Since at least the 1970s, zinc has been recognized as an essential nutrient for the body. More than 300 enzymes throughout the body require it for normal function, and the scientific consensus is that zinc supports immunity.
Now, a new study has confirmed that zinc also helps regrow immune cells, making it something of an immune booster.
Zinc helps the body to produce more disease-fighting T cells by regenerating the thymus, a primary lymphoid organ that creates them.
“A molecule inside your cells called GPR39 acts as a sensor that tracks changes in external zinc, and when the level rises, GPR39 triggers the release of a key renewal factor and thymic regeneration,” explains Dr. Joseph Mercola.
“Zinc ionophores, which act as a shuttle to transport the zinc into the cell, improve zinc uptake. Zinc ionophores include hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), chloroquine, quercetin and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).”
Back in 2020, we reported about how a nutrition “cocktail” of green tea, zinc, and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is effective against the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) – and probably many other diseases as well.
Zinc is an essential nutrient for maintaining optimal respiratory health
It turns out that zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral found in the human body. It does not store so well, however, which means it must constantly be consumed either through food or supplementation in order to derive maximum benefits.
Since taking too much zinc can deplete copper stores, it is also important to supplement that nutrient as well. And copper is dependent upon iron, so be sure to consume foods containing that mineral, too.
Zinc is uniquely beneficial for respiratory health, helping to curtail the length and severity of upper respiratory infections. A 2017 meta-analysis found that people who consumed 80 to 92 milligrams (mg) of zinc daily at the onset of cold symptoms saw a reduction in cold length of about 33 percent.
“Research published in 2020 also demonstrated that zinc is crucial to immune system function and that deficiency can raise your risk of severe Covid illness,” Mercola further explains.
“Early on in the pandemic, a number of doctors who were treating Covid patients recognized the importance of zinc and published early treatment guidelines that included it.”
As it pertains to the immune system, here are some other ways zinc benefits health:
- Zinc prevents viruses from entering and replicating within the cells; deficiency leaves them prone to infection.
- Zinc mediates non-specific immunity, including natural killer cells and neutrophils.
- Zinc deficiency negatively impacts the function of macrophage cells, which can trigger cytokine production and dysregulated intracellular death; this leads to more infections and an increase in hyperinflammatory response.
- Zinc regulates DNA replication and RNA transcription, as well as cell activation and division.
- Zinc supports the growth and function of ciliary hairs in the respiratory system, which improve mucociliary clearance. The mineral also increases the length of cilia and the number of epithelial cells in the bronchus.
- Zinc improves the respiratory epithelial barrier.
- Zinc modulates interferon-gamma (IFN-y), which plays a major role in defending against intracellular pathogens. A reduction in this cytokine impairs immune function.
Just the other day, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that zinc actually regenerates the immune system as well as supports the regrowth of immune cells.
The thymuses of mice deprived of dietary zinc shrank and produced notably fewer mature T cells in as little as just three weeks of consuming a no-zinc diet. Without zinc, in other words, T cells cannot fully mature.
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