There have been many studies examining the relationship between zinc and the immune system. Studies have found that the immune system is negatively affected by a moderate zinc deficiency. Zinc is required to activate white blood cells that help fight off infection. When individuals with low levels of zinc are given zinc supplementation, their immune system gets a boost as their ability to fight infection greatly improves.

Many people have heard that zinc can help decrease the severity or duration of a cold. In a study of over 100 people, researchers found that zinc lozenges decreased the duration of colds by one-half. There were no benefits to taking a zinc lozenge to decrease the duration of a fever, or to decrease muscle aches. Other studies done on 400 people found that zinc supplementation only decreased the severity of cold symptoms after the first 3 days of treatment when the cold was brought on by a virus. However, they noticed no difference when subjects took zinc supplements for natural colds. Therefore, more research is needed to determine whether zinc does help with the common cold.

Zinc offers many health benefits, and you should make sure that you are getting enough of this mineral. If you do not receive an adequate amount from your diet, you should take some supplementation to meet your requirements. It can help for growth, improve your immune system, and may possibly help with a cold. However, as with most things, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Try having the amount of zinc that you need for your age and gender. Too much zinc, or too little can be damaging to your health.

Zinc can be found in a variety of foods such as red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products. You can have greater absorption from animal sources then plant sources.


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Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in almost every cell. It activates over 100 enzymes. Zinc is necessary to support a healthy immune system, to promote wound healing, to maintain your sense of taste and smell, and is needed for DNA synthesis. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy. That is why it is so important to have enough of this mineral in your diet. Children, who had mild to moderate growth failure and were zinc deficient, had improved growth when they supplemented their diet with zinc. There are several ways that people consuming enough zinc can still be deficient in this mineral. Adults or children who have had gastrointestinal surgery or who have digestive disorders that result in malabsorbtion, including sprue, Crohns disease and short bowel syndrome, are at risk of a zinc deficiency. Individuals who experience chronic diarrhea should make sure they include good sources of zinc in their daily diet and may benefit from zinc supplementation.

Suggested Zinc Intake:

infants 0 through 6 months 2 mg per day
Children 4-8 years 5 mg per day
Children 9-13 years 8 mg per day
Boys 14-18 11 mg per day
Girls 14-18 9 mg per day
Men 19+ 11 mg per day
Women 19+ 8 mg per day
Pregnant women 11 mg per day
Lactating women 12 mg per day