• Mon, Feb 11 2013

Zinc Actually Can Improve Your Immune System (And For More Than Just Colds)

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I’m kind of obsessive about immune boosters, especially at this time of year. Some people say they’re just placebos, but regardless, I like to give my body some extra defenses when fighting off, colds, flu and the norovirus. Zinc is one of my faves (shoutout to Zicam!!) and today, there’s new research that says zinc can be beneficial for more than just colds. Interestingly, zinc might be able to help doctors fight sepsis, a dangerous whole-body inflammatory state.

In a study recently published in Cell Reports, researchers looked at the way that zinc interacts with a certain protein, NF-kB. This protein apparently “lures” zinc into the immune cells, making them respond to fight infection more quickly. Once inside, it also helped the cells decide when to stop their response to infection, effectively acting as a feedback loop.

Researchers from Ohio State say that zinc can help the body fight off inflammation and that zinc-deficiency could sometimes lead to excessive inflammation. Dr. Darren Knoell said:

We want a robust inflammatory response, which is part of our natural programming to defend us against a bug. But if that is unchecked, and there is too much inflammation, then it not only attacks the pathogen but can also cause much more collateral damage.

He also said that it was still a bit too early to make the jump to zinc being used as a treatment for sepsis, but emphasized that further study would beneficial. Sepsis is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and is currently treated with rapid administration of both antibiotics and fluids.

Researchers also said that the information uncovered in this of zinc new study, which looked at data from both animals (mice) and humans, may help make it clear why taking zinc at the beginning of the cold can help shorten the severity and duration of the cold.

Photo: Shutterstock

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