Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
Zinc is required in many ways for your immune system, especially to fight viruses. One of these ways that Zinc is required is to make T-cells. You’ve probably heard that with COVID-19 there’s some T-cell immunity. There are memory T-cells that, if you get COVID and were exposed to one of the coronavirus-type colds, you might have holdover T-cells that have some ability to help fight off COVID-19 and help prevent it from becoming dangerous because this virus on its own can become quite dangerous.
Zinc and other viruses
In a study of people with HIV, when the researchers gave the patients Zinc, it improved the formation of CD4+ T-cells. That would reverse the failure of the immune system by about 76%.
Researchers also found that elderly people and people in nursing homes are commonly low in Zinc. This sets them up for not just a viral infection, but viral pneumonia. A randomized placebo-controlled study of people over the age of 65 found that if researchers gave them 25mg of a Zinc supplement every day for three months, it increased the concentration of helper T-cells and cytotoxic T-cells in their blood pretty dramatically. These are virus killers that track down and kill viruses.
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Another trial shows that nursing home residents who received 30mg of Zinc a day had improved levels of circulating T-cells. In the same study, a lower dose of 5mg had no effect. The researchers found out that if they gave the patients 30mg and they could raise their blood level of Zinc to normal, they had a much lower risk of developing serious viral infections.
Zinc and COVID-19
There was a review recently in The International Journal of Molecular Medicine and it focused on the benefits of Zinc and specifically COVID-19. They found that Zinc could have a protective effect against COVID-19 by supporting the parts of the immune system that fight viruses, but also reduce inflammation. That’s an important statement.
With COVID-19, the virus can get into major organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys and it triggers inflammation. Then, there’s a backlash by the immune system called a cytokine storm, where chemical messages from the immune system called cytokines and chemokines are released at too high of an abundance, triggering severe inflammation. Researchers are finding that interleukin 6, a cytokine created by the immune system, causes a great deal of inflammation and that, in people who develop COVID-19 pneumonia, there’s a surge of interleukin 6 that further inflames the lungs. This causes people to wind up with acute respiratory distress syndrome, where the lining of the lungs can flood with fluid.
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In this review, researchers from many places reviewed studies on Zinc’s role in preventing and treating respiratory tract infections, but also COVID-19. They found specific evidence that Zinc can fight off coronaviruses. One study showed that Zinc blocks an enzyme responsible for replicating the coronavirus that led to the SARS outbreak of 2002.
They also found that Zinc supports the production and maturation of white blood cells. These are major players in the immune system that help fight off cancer, viruses and bacteria. Zinc also helps to regulate inflammation, so that helps prevent that cytokine storm. They said that Zinc has an anti-inflammatory effect in pneumonia, limiting the amount of damage to lung tissue.
Tune into the full podcast episode for more details on the relationship between Zinc and the immune system when it comes to COVID-19.
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