Zinc is your go-to immune nutrient that is a game changer for overall wellness.
Zinc improves immune cell activity and scavenges free radicals as an antioxidant, helping to eradicate inflammation (1, 2). It also reduces viral replication and supports physical barriers that protect the body from pathogens.
While achieving baseline zinc levels is necessary for health, high dose supplementation is most effective if you are already sick. A meta-analysis found that high-dose zinc lozenges that supplied more than 75 mg of zinc a day led to a 20 percent reduction in cold duration. Lower doses of less than 75 mg a day had no effect (3).
A second analysis showed that zinc lozenges in doses of 80 to 92 mg a day reduced the duration of upper respiratory illness. Nasal congestion decreased by 37 percent, scratchy throat by 33 percent, hoarseness by 43 percent, and cough by 46 percent. The duration of muscle aches decreased by 54 percent (4).
Zinc deficiency profoundly affects the immune system because low zinc produces a direct and rapid decline in immune cell function. T cells elevate the body’s immune system when viruses, bacteria, or challenges to health arise.
Am I At Risk of A Deficiency?
Low zinc is common in people with poor health, and those with gastrointestinal problems, including IBS and celiac disease. Additionally, vegetarians and people who don’t eat plenty of zinc-containing foods are prone to zinc deficiency.
Older people are at greater risk of zinc deficiency, which is not solely due to poor dietary intake. There’s evidence that you need more zinc as you age to counter inflammation, support the immune system, and ensure healthy cell function. The best sources of zinc are meat, shellfish, and dairy. Seeds, nuts, and vegetables do contain zinc but they also contain phytates that result in poor absorption.
How To Take Zinc
To correct low zinc, a high-quality zinc chelate such as UberZinc will help restore the body’s zinc levels. Use zinc for extra immune support to overcome an acute illness such as COVID-19.
When you have an upper respiratory illness, it is fine to use higher dose zinc lozenges that supply between 75 and 90 mg a day, but it is not recommended that you go over 100 mg. When trying to raise levels from a deficiency, supplementing zinc with 25 to 45 mg a day should be sufficient. As a daily preventative, a lower dose of 5 to 10 mg is considered safe. Zinc is not stored in the body, so you need to get it from your diet or supplement on a regular basis.
For longer term use, zinc combined with selenium and copper will optimize nutrient stores and support the body’s ability to recover from intense training. Zinc Essentials supplies zinc, copper, and selenium in the proper ratios. Avoid taking zinc without copper for the long term because doing so will lead to an imbalance between these two nutrients.
Zinc should be taken with food in order to avoid stomach upset or nausea. It should be taken separately from supplements containing iron or magnesium for better absorption. Coffee may impair zinc absorption by 50 percent and coffee drinkers should delay taking zinc for one hour from coffee ingestion.