One of the most essential nutrients true to the term “essential” is the mineral zinc. There are upwards of 300-plus enzymes in the human body that require zinc in order to function. We don’t need that much zinc each day — around 10 mg — but that amount is used to its full benefit.
Zinc is a powerful builder of the immune system and hunts down invading bacteria and viruses with the best of them. That’s why many studies have evidence suggesting that zinc could treat and prevent a cold, among other things. Some studies have found proof that the mineral could take down even one of the heaviest viral hitters: pneumonia.
A study adds some fuel to that particular fire. A high proportion of nursing facility residents was found to have low levels of zinc in their blood in a U.S. study. The scientists found that those with normal blood zinc levels were about 50% less likely to develop pneumonia than those with low concentrations. The study was based out of Tufts University in Boston.
Researchers have been studying immune response and respiratory infections in about 600 elderly residents in 33 nursing facilities. Previously, they found that residents who consumed 200 international units (IU) of vitamin E daily for one
year were 20% less likely to get upper respiratory infections, such as colds, than those who took a placebo.
A second analysis came across the zinc angle. It found that a high percentage of residents had low zinc levels at the beginning of the study, and again one year later. All were receiving recommended levels of all essential nutrients during the study.
Those with normal zinc status were not only less likely to develop pneumonia, they also had fewer new prescriptions for antibiotics, a shorter duration of pneumonia, and fewer days of antibiotic use. And here’s another stunner: death rates were lower in those who had sufficient zinc levels.
The study suggests that zinc supplement use for zinc-deficient older adults can result in reduced risk of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a very serious problem amid the elderly population, whose immune systems often cannot overcome the infection. More studies are needed to see if zinc supplements could indeed reduce overall mortality rates due to pneumonia.
A powerful mineral, a powerful idea.