Zinc Effects on Your Respiratory System
We’re living through a global pandemic of COVID 19, the new highly infectious and potentially severe respiratory viral illness. As scientists race to find viable preventives and treatments, I want to draw your attention to an important trace mineral that’s simple to get from your diet or supplements yet surprisingly easy to become deficient in.
The trace mineral I’m referring to is zinc.
In this article, I’ll explain:
- The benefits of zinc for your respiratory and immune systems
- The risks of zinc deficiency
- How you can increase your zinc intake
Let’s dig into the benefits of this important element.
The Risks Of Zinc Deficiency
If you’re deficient in zinc, and you develop a lung infection, it will last longer. As well, you’ll have diminished T-cell function. T-cells are an integral part of your immune system. (The T stands for the thymus gland.)
There are three main types of T-cells:
- Killer: these specialize in killing viruses
- Helper: helper T-cells are the coordinating unit of your immune system. They recruit backup immune functions, and increase the killing power of other immune cells called phagocytes, for example.
- Regulatory: regulatory T-cells suppress the overreaction of your immune system, including preventing autoimmune diseases. If your regulatory cells are weak, or too few, you’ll tend to have conditions like asthma, allergies, and even inflammation that lingers and moves into a chronic phase.
Clearly, you don’t want to risk a deficiency of T-cells.
As well, if you’re zinc-deficient, you’ll have a lot more cytokines, which are small proteins. Cytokines have many different functions. One is as messengers among cells.
Another is as a pro-inflammatory, which is a normal part of the immune process. Sometimes this inflammatory response, though, goes out of control. If so, and if you’re deficient in zinc, you can potentially experience what’s called a cytokine storm, when your body releases too many cytokines too quickly into your bloodstream.
As far as your lungs go, if you experience a cytokine storm you can develop scar tissue, which inhibits healthy lung function.
Zinc Helps With Various Respiratory Conditions
Zinc is an excellent general anti inflammatory, too; however, it’s especially powerful for your lungs. If, for example, you have a lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you’re nearly always deficient in zinc.
When you’re too low in zinc, your risk also goes up for conditions such as:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Upper respiratory infections, which affect the nose, throat, and airways
- Lower respiratory infections, which affect the lungs and anything below your voice box
As well, low levels of zinc make your lungs more susceptible to ventilator-induced injury, because the ventilator pushes pressure into your lungs to help you breathe. When you’re put on a ventilator, your overall risk of dying goes up. If your lungs are already weakened, being on a ventilator becomes even more risky.
When you develop a lung infection, your body will use up the zinc that’s available, and that in itself can cause you to become deficient in zinc, setting up a vicious circle.
How To Get More Zinc
Especially during this time of the COVID 19 pandemic, having adequate zinc is crucial. It will protect your lungs; and,should you come down with the viral infection, you can potentially lessen the severity of it.
I put together an entire video focused on teaching you the conditions that will prevent you from absorbing enough zinc, thereby leading to a deficiency. I encourage you to check it out in its entirety
But just in case you’re impatient, here’s a sneak peek:
The foods that are rich in zinc are oysters, meat, nuts, and seafood. Make sure you’re getting enough of these foods, and you’ll be upping your zinc. However, even if you do eat them, you still need to make sure you can absorb the zinc you’re consuming. So, check out the video!
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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.