The role of zinc, an essential trace mineral, has been studied for decades. The consequences of zinc deficiency are seen in people with genetic disorders, immune dysfunctions, emotional disorders, thyroid and neurological issues, and many other illnesses.
Zinc deficiency is among the most common malnutrition problems worldwide. Zinc is a key ingredient in creating enzymes and proteins involved in many biochemical pathways.
It isn’t surprising that zinc deficiency is so common. This mineral began disappearing from our soil with the advent of industrial agriculture, largely due to farming practices reliant on chemical fertilizers and pesticides that deplete the soil’s immune system, alter its pH balance, and harm healthy soil-borne microorganisms that help create trace minerals.
Anthony William, the best-selling author of a series titled Medical Medium, summarized much of the research around zinc deficiency, warning that not getting enough zinc will cause the immune system to overreact to virulent flu, or underreact to a low-level chronic viral infection such as herpes or Epstein-Barr virus.
When our immune system is well-stocked with zinc, it slows these viruses by repelling and weakening them, allowing the lymphatic system and liver to quickly kill off and remove the virus particles from the body.
An overreacting immune system, in the form of a “cytokine storm,” is a particular problem with COVID-19.
A cytokine storm occurs when the immune system overreacts to infectious or noninfectious diseases, and the inflammatory response spirals out of control, elevating inflammation to dangerous levels. This explains why otherwise completely healthy people can get so virulently sick with COVID-19.
A study in 2011 showed that zinc was able to suppress immune [hyper] response and regulate the inflammatory cytokines.
A compilation of studies done by the WHO in 2011 looked at children diagnosed with other respiratory infections and affirmed this aspect of zinc supplementation.
“Zinc is thought to help decrease susceptibility to acute lower respiratory tract infections by regulating various immune functions,” wrote the WHO researchers.