new research on zinc and immunity

Are you ready for some good news in these crazy COVID times?

A few new studies from late 2021 offer really promising findings about the role of vitamins and minerals to mitigate or prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Is this surprising? Not at all. Is it nice to have scientific validation? You bet.

We’ve long known that repletion leads to resilience: If you’ve got enough raw materials on hand, your body can MacGyver its way around all sorts of impediments, albeit not always elegantly. In other words, having enough nutrients around helps your body heal itself, although you may still get and feel sick. If you’re deficient, that process is simply more difficult.

Today let’s discuss the new findings about zinc.

the new research

A December 2021 study in Frontiers in Medicine concluded that “zinc supplementation may be an effective prophylaxis of symptomatic COVID-19 and may mitigate the severity of COVID-19 infection.”

The Florida researchers tracked folks taking 10mg, 25mg and 50mg of zinc picolinate every day and looked at how they fared in the pandemic versus people not taking supplemental zinc.

Overall, people not taking the zinc supplements were 5.93 times more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19 infection. When adjusted to consider other preexisting health conditions, people who didn’t take zinc were 7.38 times more likely to get symptomatically sick.

This preventive effect showed up even for those taking the lowest supplementary dose. The researchers determined that “oral zinc supplementation even at 10 mg daily may be beneficial in the prevention of the spread of the contagion from asymptomatic individuals to susceptible hosts during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Our data also suggest that individuals using zinc, even in low doses, were protected from developing asymptomatic COVID or acquiring COVID from close relatives who had been symptomatically affected by the virus.”

Zinc offers these protections through a combination of known and postulated mechanisms.

  • It’s a known modulator of the immune system, including T-cell function and and cytokine production.
  • Healthy zinc levels reduce the number of ACE-2 receptors, where the SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to our bodies.
  • Zinc helps support a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria), which is another key to immune function.

are you getting enough zinc?

Zinc deficiency affects up to 45 precent of adults over 60 years old — exactly the demographic at greatest risk from COVID-19 infection. Your doctor can run a simple blood test to find out.

Some top food sources of zinc include:

  • Oysters
  • Dark turkey meat, beef
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pecans, Brazil nuts, peanuts, almonds and walnuts
  • Split peas

Note that beans and grains, as part of their plant defenses, can impede zinc absorption. Soaking and sprouting can help prevent this.

As always, please talk with your doctor before making any changes to your health regimen.

I think this is exciting news. It’s not exactly surprising that a mineral long known to support the immune system would be helpful in these times, but it’s great to have more science to bolster the cause in this specific case.

For more common-sense ideas to support staying well, check out my Immune Resilience Action Guide or schedule an appointment to get personalized advice.