Zinc nutrition as we enter endemic phase

Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection


Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system

and zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens

It is clear that zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system

Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells

Zinc deficiency also affects development of acquired immunity, activation of T lymphocytes and B lymphocyte help

B lymphocyte development and antibody production, particularly immunoglobulin G, is compromised

The macrophage, is adversely affected by zinc deficiency

Zinc is needed by these key immunologic mediators

Basic cellular functions such as DNA replication

RNA transcription, cell division, and cell activation


Zinc deficiency results in altered numbers and dysfunction of all immune cells

Suboptimal zinc states have an increased risk for infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and cancer

Risk groups for zinc deficiency


Elderly and patients with various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

Mild zinc deficiency is largely sub-clinical,

it is unnoticed in most people

World Health Organization

Assumes that at least one third of the world population is affected by zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency is responsible for 16% of all deep respiratory infections world-wide

Supplementation, for which minimal to no side effects are known.

Europe 10 to 20% zinc deficiency


Zinc Protects the Human Body From Entering of the Virus

Essential for tissue barriers equipped with cilia and mucus, anti-microbial peptides like lysozymes and interferons

The expression of tight junction proteins was found to be zinc-dependent

Mucociliar clearance of viruses is affected by zinc

Physiological concentrations of zinc increase ciliary beat frequency

Zinc-dependent alterations in gene expression by pneumocytes

Associations with interferons

Zinc Directly Inhibits Viral Replication

Direct antiviral effects of zinc have been demonstrated

E.g. coronaviridae, picornavirus, papilloma virus, metapneumovirus, rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus, respiratory syncytial virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the hepatitis C virus

It was suggested that zinc can prevent fusion with the host membrane

Decreases the viral polymerase function

Blocks viral particle release

Destabilizes the viral envelope

Zinc Balances the Immune Response During Infectious Diseases

Hyper-inflammation, immune products including pro-inflammatory cytokines

Movement and over activation of immune cells to the lungs

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

Need of zinc for lymphocyte development and function and that zinc supplementation can reverse lymphopenia

Zinc is indispensable in the signal cascade of the T cell receptor and as a second messenger

Zinc is required for B cell maturation and function

Zinc Supplementation in Respiratory Infections

A row of successful supplementation studies focusing on respiratory tract infection

In most cases, prophylactic zinc supplementation was more effective than therapeutic proceedings

Studies showed reduced symptom severity, reduced frequency, and duration of the common cold after zinc administration

Zinc supplementation of children in developing countries

Reduced pneumonia-specific morality by 15%

and 19% of pneumonia morbidity by 19%

Risk Groups and Symptoms of COVID-19 and Zinc Deficiency Reveal a Large Overlap

Low serum zinc levels are regularly observed in:

COPD, bronchial asthma, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, kidney diseases, dialysis, obesity, diabetes, cancer, atherosclerosis, liver cirrhosis, immunosuppression, and known liver damage

57.5% elderly and nursing home residents in the U.S., showed significantly decreased zinc intake

Zinc supplementation was able to reconstitute immune function in elderly and zinc deficient individuals


(Journal of infectious diseases)

The study data clearly show that a significant number of COVID-19 patients were zinc deficient. These zinc deficient patients developed more complications, and the deficiency was associated with a prolonged hospital stay and increased mortality.

Foods containing zinc

Whole gains
Dark chocolate

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)


Boys and men age 14 and older, 11 mg/day

Women 19 and older, 8 mg/day

Pregnant women 11 to 18 mg / day

Lactating women 12 to 14 Mg/day