MORE ABOUT VITAMINS: ZINC

Zinc, which has been studied more extensively than any other mineral, has a profound effect on the immune system. As an essential cofactor in more than 100 enzymes, zinc has its “fingers” in a lot of pies. Wounds on animals put on a zinc-deficient diet heal with difficulty, which is an indication of immune-system failure. The animals also suffer from lack of growth, sexual immaturity and loss of hair.

Good supplies of zinc are essential for a healthy immune system. A deficiency of this mineral can lead to shrinkage of the thymus gland, which, in turn, prompts a reduction in the number of T-cells available to grapple with germs. I have found that the ratio of T4 to T8 cells may be skewed as the result of a zinc deficiency. B-cells are adversely affected by a deficiency of zinc, as is the ability of immune-system cells to rush to the scene of a battle and jump into the fight.

Low levels of zinc increase one’s susceptibility to infections, and may lead to low levels of blood immunoglobulins. In many cases, administration of zinc restores these immune-system functions to normal levels.

I have successfully used a combination of zinc and vitamin C for treating patients with burns or severe wounds. In one case, a 40 year-old woman came to the hospital with severe burns on her legs. The burned skin and muscle were surgically cut away. When the wounds refused to heal, I administered zinc and vitamin C orally, and the stubborn wounds quickly began to heal.

But too much zinc can depress the phagocytic activity of neutrophils, so be careful not to overdose on zinc.

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