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How does zinc strengthen our immunity?

For a year and the appearance of COVID-19, more than a hundred scientific articles have been published about Zinc as part of the fight against this pandemic.

Food Sources and “Benefits” of Zinc

  • Zinc is provided in food through animal products and seafood,
  • The absorption of zinc can be disturbed by the intake of certain foods such as cow’s milk, cereals, legumes.
  • Zinc is necessary for normal growth and development of the fetus during pregnancy and after birth until puberty,
  • It is essential for the activity of more than 200 enzymes in the human body,
  • It is essential for the proper functioning of our immune system.

It is this last activity that is arousing the interest of scientists today in the fight against COVID-19.

Zinc deficiency is common in the population

As the body does not have a system that can store large amounts of zinc, a deficit can quickly occur in case of insufficient intake.

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Zinc deficiency is more important in the elderly and surprisingly in young children with a difference by sex: 40% of one-year-old boys and 58% of three-year-old girls.

Zinc deficiency can have a significant impact on the occurrence and severity of virus infections.

The role of zinc on infections

Zinc is involved at several levels in the fight against viral infections.

First of all, it physically opposes the penetration of viruses into the cells of the body, thus limiting their infection.

It also improves the elimination of viruses from the respiratory tract by improving the evacuation of bronchial secretions.

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Furthermore, when the virus has succeeded in entering the body’s cells, zinc is involved in several actions that slow down its multiplication in these infected cells and the proliferation of the virus in the body.

Zinc improves the body’s defenses against viruses

Zinc makes it possible to limit viral infections also by intervening in the stimulation of immune phenomena.

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Zinc is directly involved in increasing the production, by our cells, of molecules that will block the division of viruses and the production of toxic viral molecules.

Excessive inflammatory reactions, harmful to the body when they get carried away (the all too famous “cytokine storm”), can also be slowed down under the action of Zinc.

Finally, by inhibiting the growth of bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumonia, zinc helps fight against secondary bacterial infections that often complicate pneumonia of viral origin.

Prevention role of Zinc supplementation

The numerous scientific data published today agree on the importance of Zinc supplementation in deficient people to prevent viral infections.

This has been demonstrated for many viruses, especially respiratory viruses, and including viruses that are part of the family to which SARS-CoV-2 *, the virus responsible for COVID-19, belongs.

For example, a meta-analysis carried out by the “Cochrane Library” showed that supplementation at a rate of 75 mg of Zinc per day decreases the frequency of onset of influenza and the duration of symptoms.

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A systematic review of scientific data, published this year, demonstrated that preventive zinc supplementation at the same dose of 75 mg per day made it possible to reduce the duration of viral pneumonia symptoms.

On the other hand, the existing scientific data are contradictory concerning Zinc supplementation’s impact in the treatment of viral infections; they do not allow the indication to be proposed with certainty.