Do you always seem to have a cold? Make sure that you are getting enough zinc!

A recent study shows: senior citizens who suffer from zinc deficiency can strengthen their immune system if they take zinc in a sufficiently high dosage.

In the wet and cold season, hardly anyone is spared from a cold. However, if infections occur frequently or last a long time, an insufficent supply of zinc may also be the cause. The reason for this is that the trace element is indispensable for the immune system - a deficiency weakens the body’s defences. Senior citizens in particular often do not have an adequate supply of zinc. As a recent clinical study has again confirmed, the function of the immune system in elderly people with poor zinc status can be significantly improved if they take a sufficiently high dose of a zinc preparation.

Of the 53 senior citizens aged 65 and over who were investigated, 58% had reduced zinc concentrations in the blood before taking zinc. Half of these patients received 30 mg of zinc a day, the other half a placebo with only 5 mg of zinc. After 3 months of treatment, their blood was analysed again: Among the study participants who had received a higher dose of zinc, not only the zinc levels had significantly increased, but also the immune function was improved: the number of important defence cells, the T cells, had significantly increased in these individuals (1).

Previous studies had already shown: in older people there is a connection between a poor supply of zinc and a weakened immune system (2). Older people in particular are not only more susceptible to infections, but also to a zinc deficiency. Due to a change in eating habits, medicines, illnesses and a decline in the absorption capacity of the intestines, there is usually less zinc available to the body (3).

(1)    Barnett J.B., Dao, M.C.; et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on serum zinc concentration and T cell proliferation in nursing home elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):942-51. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.115188

(2)    Lukito. W., et al., Nutritional indicators, peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets and survival in an institutionalised elderly population. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr (2004) 13(1):107-112

(3)    Classen HG, Gröber U, Loew D, Schmidt J, Stracke H. Zinc deficiency: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and therapy: MMP 2011; 3: 87-95. (in German)

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