Zinc is a trace element that essential for the immune system, and zinc deficiency affects multiple aspects of innate and adaptive immunity. There are remarkable parallels in the immunological changes during aging and zinc deficiency, including a reduction in the activity of the thymus and thymic hormones, a shift of the T helper cell balance toward T helper type 2 cells, decreased response to vaccination, and impaired functions of innate immune cells. Immunity Benefits of Zinc as We Age
A lack of zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness. Many studies confirm a decline of zinc levels as we age.
First, let’s learn about the benefits of zinc for our Immunity:
You know, Zinc has many benefits for our health.
It is one of the most abundant nutritionally essential elements in the human body. It is found in all body tissues. 85% of the body’s total zinc found in muscle and bone, 11% in the skin and the liver and the remaining 4% in all the other tissues.
Zinc is important for balancing immunity, decreasing inflammation, as an antioxidant, cognitive function and so much more!
This important mineral wears many hats. All vitamins and minerals do. This is why a deficiency could have a negative impact on so many different aspects of our health. Zinc is needed to activate over 300 biochemical reactions (think jobs) needed for your well-being. Vitamins and minerals are the first true ‘multi-taskers’.
Without enough zinc, your body can’t make immune cells properly and the immune cells can’t work as well. When you don’t get all of the zinc you need, you will be at an increased risk for bacterial, viral (colds and flu) and parasitic infections .
So, how to maintain Zinc level when we age
The best way for elder patients to combat the loss of zinc is to consume more of it—specifically 11 mg/day for men and 8 mg/day for women. A person who eats a wide variety of foods is more likely to take in enough zinc in their daily diets. This includes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Lean meats and seafood are good sources, and oysters have the highest level of zinc from food. Grains and other protein-rich plant sources like beans and legumes also have quite a bit of zinc. But if you are only consuming a plant-based diet, many of these foods also contain a compound that binds up zinc so you don’t absorb it well and would have to eat even more. For older patients who don’t eat a lot of meat and are at risk of not consuming enough zinc, a multivitamin containing zinc may be warranted, as long as patients are staying below the upper level recommendation of zinc, which is 40 mg/ per day.
It is unlikely to get excessive amounts of zinc from your diet, but you can overdose on supplements . Remember that zinc can be toxic in large quantities, adding that patients should aim to stay below the upper level limit of 40 mg/day. Taking too many zinc supplements can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and headaches. Zinc also can react with certain medications so it’s important for patients to inform their healthcare providers if they are starting any sort of supplement routine.