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The Power of Zinc

*Sniff...sniff*  

“Ah...ah...Achoo!”  

*Blowing intensifies*  

“Gah, I hate this. Can this--*sniff...sniff*--get any more uncomfortable and a--ah...ACHOO!” 

“...annoying.” 

Ah, the common cold--one of the top reasons for calling in sick during work and school days. Most of us average at around 2-3 colds a year, each lasting at least a week. 

While there is no real cure for a cold, years of studies reveal that there is a certain essential mineral that can help to significantly shorten the duration of cold symptoms, and that is ZINC. 

All About Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that serves as a great source of nutrition for the body. In fact, zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in your body next to iron, and is present in every cell. But because your body doesn’t naturally produce zinc, it must be obtained through the food and supplements you take as a part of your diet.

Zinc is used by the body in tons of important ways. It is responsible for a number of functions and processes in the human body. To name a few, zinc: 

  • Is responsible for the activity of more than 300 different enzymes in our body
  • Is critical for the development and function of immune cells 
  • Is required for protein and DNA synthesis  
  • Is important for wound healing 
  • Supports normal growth and development  
  • Ensures the proper functioning of our senses (taste and smell). 
  • Is fundamental to skin health, maintains the integrity of the skin 
  • In short, YOUR BODY NEEDS ZINC! It aids your body’s growth and metabolism, enzyme reactions, DNA and protein synthesis, and immune function. Zinc can’t get any more essential than that! 

    Zinc, Your Surefire Immunity Booster 

    There are many health benefits that zinc brings to those who maintain a healthy amount of it. Zinc can treat diarrhea, enhance learning and memory by regulating the synapses between neurons, improve acne symptoms, and reduce the risk of certain age-related diseases such as pneumonia, infection, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). 

    But among the many mind-blowing benefits of zinc, its ability to boost immune health, speed up wound healing, and enhance the body’s inflammatory responses is most notable, especially at a time such as this. 

    1) Regulates immune function 

    According to the European Journal of Immunology, the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (T cells), which help the body in two ways: 

  • Controlling and regulating immune responses 
  • Attacking infected or cancerous cells 
  • Zinc is absolutely necessary for a healthy immune system. Zinc supplements stimulate particular immune cells and reduce the risk of infections. It is often added to natural cold treatments to help lessen the severity of symptoms.  

    Hence, zinc deficiency can lead to a weakened immune response and an increased risk of disease and infection. 

    2) Accelerates wound healing 

    Zinc plays a role in maintaining skin integrity and structure. It enhances re-epithelialization (the covering of damaged skin), decreasing inflammation and bacterial growth. Thus, zinc is crucial for proper healing.  

    3) Reduces inflammation 

    A growing area of research is looking at how zinc reduces inflammation in the body. 

    A 2013 study by Ohio State University found that zinc is drawn into cells that fight infection to help stop the immune system from spiralling out of control. A lack of zinc to support immune response was found to trigger excess inflammation, potentially damaging cells and the body.  

    The COVID-19 Pandemic: Does Zinc have a Say? 

    Zinc, indeed, is a very powerful ally to the immune system. We’ve seen it’s ability to lessen the severity of viruses such as the common cold, as it inhibits the binding of the cold virus to cells and suppresses inflammation.  

    But in this day and age, there is one question that begs to be asked: is Zinc able to work its magic with much more serious virus strains...virus strains as aggressive and infectious as that of COVID-19 

    COVID-19 is a new disease, and we still have much to learn about it. Although there hasn’t been any specific studies of zinc for COVID-19 yet, we can draw a few conclusions by looking at its effects in other conditions: 

  • A 2010 laboratory study showed that zinc inhibited the activity and replication of another coronavirus, SARS-CoV which caused an outbreak in 2002 
  • Studies found that zinc lozenges (at least 75mg/day) administered within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms reduced the duration of the infection in healthy people. 
  • Theoretically though yet to be proven, taking zinc lozenges during the early stages of COVID-19 may reduce symptom severity and the duration of the illness  
  • Zinc may not be a cure, and not even a proven preventive measure against such a virus, but we definitely have NOTHING TO LOSE and EVERYTHING TO GAIN if we take it in. We could surely use the added protection that zinc provides us to lessen the likelihood of contracting ANY virus! 

    Think Zinc! 

    Maintaining your zinc status could be a key to living a long, healthier life by optimizing the function of your immune system. At a time such as this, it’s best that we take the necessary measures to fortify our immunity, and zinc is right there to give our bodies all the extra ammunition we need to fight off any virus or bacteria that threatens to enter our systems.  

    So, next time you’re feeling run-down, think zinc!