How Does Zinc Help The Immune System?

Back to Health Hub

Zinc is a mineral that is widely used to help keep the immune system strong and fight off any unwanted bacteria. Find out how zinc helps the immune system.

Zinc is a key mineral that our body needs to support a number of functions. These are supporting the growth and development of neurological functions, and the support of the immune system too. Zinc helps the cells of the immune system respond to infections, and helps to keep any inflammation under control. However, our body cannot produce Zinc on its own, so needs to get enough from the foods that we eat.What is zinc

What is zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that is considered an essential nutrient. This means that the body cannot produce or store the mineral on its own. That is why you have to make sure that your diet is high in zinc so that the body receives enough of the mineral.

What does zinc do?

Zinc is used for a number of different processes that happen throughout the body, which include:

  • The reaction of enzymes
  • Healthy immune function
  • Protein synthesis
  • The healing of wounds
  • Healthy growth and development

Zinc is necessary for over 300 enzymes in the body that support the metabolism, digestion function and the role of the immune cells in the body. The body’s growth and development are also dependent on the amount of zinc that is in the body due to its role in the support of cell growth and division.

How does zinc support the immune system?

There are many ways in which Zinc supports the immune system, but its main role is by activating the enzymes that break down the proteins which are present in viruses and bacteria. This means that they are less able to spread.

The mineral also increases the response that cells have towards fighting an infection. Research has also been conducted to show that zinc can help in the destruction of E. coli by overloading them, which essentially means it poisons the cells and kills them off.

There are other ways in which zinc can help boost the immune system, such as:

Helps inflammation

There has been research to show that zinc has the ability to reduce any inflammation that occurs in the body. Inflammation that is linked to conditions such as heart disease, dementia and mental health conditions, are all helped with zinc.

Zinc pushes through into the inflamed cells to calm down the swelling and thus reduces the inflammation of the affected area.

Cuts the length of a cold

There have been studies which show that zinc has the ability to help the body combat cold and flu symptoms. It does this by reducing nose discharge, congestion and sore throats. This is due to zinc stimulation of particular immune cells which supports the reduction of oxidative stress.

Boosts the healing of woundshealing of wound

Zinc is most commonly used in hospitals the aid the healing of burns, ulcers, and other deep-tissue skin injuries. This is due to the mineral playing a vital role in the synthesis of collagen, and inflammatory response. A zinc deficiency can slow the process of wound healing; however, supplementing zinc can aid in a speedy recovery.

How much zinc do you need?

As with all vitamins and minerals, there is a recommended daily amount. The recommended daily amount of zinc is 7mg for women and 9.5mg for men. Deficiencies in the mineral are rare, but it has been most noted in older people, who may be eating less. It is also commonly seen in Vegans or Vegetarians; this is because the richest source of Zinc is meat and shellfish.

Signs of a Zinc deficiency

Even though a deficiency in zinc is rare, it is not unheard of. There are a few symptoms that you will suffer from if you are low in zinc. If you think you are suffering from any of the below symptoms, then you should contact your doctor for the best next steps.

The signs of a zinc deficiency include:

zinc supplements

  • Loss of appetite
  • Having wounds that won’t heal
  • A loss in sense of smell or taste
  • Loss of energy
  • Poor immune function

Zinc is incredibly important for the healthy function of the immune system, and a lot of body processes too. If you think you are deficient or aren’t getting enough through your diet alone, then you should always consult your doctor before taking any kind of supplements.

That is our guide on zinc and the immune system, want to find out how to improve your immune system even more? Why not take a look at our article about 9 vitamins that boost your immune system, next?


Sign up to our newsletter