Zinc - Immune Health Wonder Nutrient

| Modified on Nov 09, 2020

An essential trace element, zinc plays an important role in the human body. Even though it is only needed in minute amounts, zinc is a vital nutrient that is responsible for an array of functions. This single nutrient helps stimulate the activity of over 100 different enzymes in the body, making it an important nutritional supplement.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is an essential nutrient for maintaining health. Found in cells throughout the body, zinc functions in a variety of ways to stimulate immune function and fight infection. The nutrient also functions in manufacturing proteins and DNA in the body. Zinc is a nutrient that is needed throughout all life stages including conception, infancy, childhood, and adulthood.

Zinc is a nutrient that must be accounted for via diet and nutritional choices. A variety of different foods contain the supplement; however, oysters are the best source. Additionally, red meat, poultry, crab, lobsters, and fortified breakfast cereal contain some of nutrient. Beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products provide an adequate amount of the nutrient.

Zinc can also be found as an independent supplement as well as a component of many multivitamin/mineral supplements. It is most effective when taken in addition to calcium and magnesium.

Health Benefits of Zinc

One of the most important roles zinc plays is maintaining immune health. The nutrient activates the T lymphocytes in the body, which function to control and regulate immune responses as well as attack infected or cancerous cells.

As such, zinc can be used to treat a number of specific conditions. Diarrhea, stomach ulcers, acne, ADHD, herpes simplex virus, immune function, sickle cell anemia, and Wilson’s disease respond well to treatment with zinc. The nutrient can also be used to treat age-related macular degeneration, depressed appetite, bad breath, blood disorders, boils, burns, cancer, canker sores, celiac disease, cognitive disorders, the common cold, and a variety of other conditions.

Although it is a trace element, zinc is no less important than any other nutrient. This nutrient helps maintain regular function of the body and supports treatment of a wide array of health conditions.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Paula (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) on 08/29/2012

I was having persistant diarrhea for a week and researched that in developed countries, they would give zinc to children so that they don't die from the diarrhea.

I tried zinc gluconate 50mg and it stopped my diarrhea. Apparently zinc deficiencies make diarrhea worse.

Multiple Cures Reported

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Deirdre (CT) on 11/08/2020

At least a decade ago, I started writing on Earth Clinic about trying to clear up nail issues on one of my feet. Then about 4 years ago, I started to have a bad rash on the top of my foot that I also wrote about. This rash got worse and worse and worse over time. A bunch of Earth Clinic readers were kind enough to write in suggestions about that one, and two incredibly kind women even sent me homemade herbal ointments to try!

Well, I wanted to report a CURE after all these years. It appears that it was a simple case of zinc deficiency!!

I started to take a zinc/copper supplement this summer and the itchy rash on the top of my foot disappeared after a week. I had managed to get it mostly clear by applying an antifungal OTC to it, but the zinc supplement completely eliminated the rash and I no longer have to apply anything to it.

Then... after 10 or more years, the nail on my big toe has finally grown in PERFECTLY over the past few months. For many years it kept splitting in the middle and looked terrible. I tried a lot of remedies over the years to cure it, including a cheapo apple cider vinegar from Heinz, which dyed my entire foot orange for a while (not kidding, that post is on Earth Clinic).

Now how many people would relate these two issues to a zinc deficiency? I've had issues on that right foot for decades, so I'm guessing I've been zinc deficient for 30+ years. I have never regularly supplemented with zinc, believe it or not!

Got fungal and/or nail issues? Try zinc for 6 months and report back.

Is the copper important? Possibly but I don't know for sure.

Replied by Madelyn

Hi Deirdre,

I was wondering the same thing, and then read your last sentence about the copper.

What form of zinc and copper were in the supplement? How many mg of each did you get taking the daily dose?

Copper is a natural anti-fungal, so I won't be surprised if that helped too.

And nowadays with Corona virus, I think it's smart to make sure we don't have any zinc deficiency.

Thank you for sharing. I've been a reader for around 12 or 13 years now. Love love love this site and community.

Replied by Deirdre

Hi Madelyn!

I have been taking zinc orotate (15mg) and copper orotate (2mg). Bulletproof brand.

Oral Health

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Rkymtsprt (Missoula, Mt, USA) on 10/29/2009

Hi, I could not find any feedback about Zinc supplements on the Ailments link or the Supplements link. Anyone have fantastic results with it? It seems to be great for my oral health...my gums have stopped bleeding. Been taking one 50 mg tab for two months now.

Replied by George
(Melbourne, Vic)

I have been taking zinc for 2 months now and I have been told by my dr it increases the immune system and white blood cell count...

Replied by Harrie
(Ennis, Tx)

I have been taking Zinc 50 mg for two years now. I had a MRSA infection and was in the hospital and the infection control doctor put me on it. He said it helped build up the immune system. Also, since taking it I have not had a single cold, flu or any other type respiratory problem. I had also had another doctor tell me he took Zinc in the winters to avoid colds/flu. So I guess there is something to it.

Replied by Suzie
(New York, Usa)

you need to keep an eye on your copper levels when you are taking zinc supplements as it may effect your neutrophils....

Replied by Wilmaj
(Santa Margarita, Ca, United States)

At first, I only believed that only a Vitamin C is crucial for me, I don't even believe in any supplements right now and which one are the effective ones. After several years I discovered that I'm having zinc deficiency symptoms which I read from this http://products.mercola.com/zinc-supplements/ a Dr. Mercola's article and I wanna know if it is true at all about what he is saying?

Replied by Timh
(Louisville, Ky, USA)
2064 posts

We are living in the industrial/agricultural age where nutritional deficiencies are on the rise (in our exo & endo environments) and the hypoxic or lowered oxygen states are the natural consequence; and another consequence is Cancer.

Zinc isn't found in sufficient amounts except in perhaps 2 foods ---liver and pumpkin seeds, so if one never or rarely eats these foods and also doesn't take a multivitamin/mineral supplement daily, then deficiency is very likely.

Replied by Maggie
(Calgary, Alberta, canada)

How much zinc should females in their teens require? My daughter eats pumpkin seeds sometimes; never liver and has had acne problems since she was 11. She takes a multi with 15 mg of zinc. Wondering if this would be enough for her.

Replied by Timh
(Louisville, Ky, Usa)
2064 posts

Maggie, for a daily maintenance dose 25mg Zinc Citrate would suffice. In chronic disease treatment 50mg daily may be needed. In severe or acute illness up to 100mg can be taken. My current Z regimen is 100mg plus 3mg Copper every other day.

Replied by Cornelius
(Durham, Nc)

Try apple cider vinegar for acne. It works better than anything I've ever tried. You can find user experiences here on earth clinic.

Picolinate Vs. Gluconate

Posted by Pat (Singapore) on 06/11/2011

hi, I've been reading on Earthclinic.com that zinc supplements can help with acne but there's so many kinds of zinc!

i narrowed it down to either zinc picolinate or gluconate.............. So may I ask which one is more readily absorbed by the body and hence, more effective for acne ?

many thanks!

Replied by Dave
(Vaaldam, Gp. South Africa)

I have been using zinc and castor oil ointment (commercially packaged and obtained from my local chemist(drug store)) as a topically applied sun block for the last six months. It has been amazingly effective and has worked better than the sun tan lotions I have used previously. It has also cleared my sunspots and melanomas from my facial skin. I find it very effective in healing burns and small wounds - it has now become my first aid kit in a jar!

Replied by Francisca
(Zug, Switzerland)

Do you maybe have the formula for the Zinc and Castor Oil? I suppose that would be the only way one could have it in other countries. Maybe the name would help as well....

Replied by Linda
(Geelong, Australia)

Not sure if it's the same chemical breakdown but Zinc and castor oil cream is available in Au in pharmacys and the baby isle of the supermarket--it's a great nappy rash/moisture barrier cream.

Replied by Sunny

Powder and then Softgel form more abosorbed by body. Also, look into chelated. Pass it forward>>>> Health and love to you.

Zinc Chloride

Posted by Kevin (San Jose, California) on 12/07/2013

I have purchased zinc chloride. You have stated that I use zinc chloride as a 5% solution. How do I go about this? What do you mean by 5% concentration? Should I use a teaspoon, tablespoon or what other measurement to do a 5% solution. Should I take it with water or what? I don't know how to go about a 5% solution? Could you help me in my inquiry? Thank you in this matter.

Replied by Happy
(Up The Creek In Wv, Usa)

California Kevin: Get a little digital scale at harbour freight company that weighs grams. milli-grams. Weigh out 5 grams of zinc chloride. place in a jar. Weigh out 95 grams of water [or your base material, whatever that is] , add that to the jar. Shake the two together as a mixture. you now have a 5% solution of zinc chloride. You can double or triple both ingredients, if you want a bigger suppply. It will still be a 5% mixture.

Question: are you making a hoxsey cancer salve formula with the zinc chloride?

Replied by Kevin
(San Jose, California)

How do I use zinc chloride as a solution regarding a 5% concentration level?

Zinc Compounds

Posted by Trisha (Prince George, Bc) on 12/30/2012

The only zinc our health food store carries is zinc citrate.... What is the difference in the zinc you recommend and zinc citrate? is it worth the $$ and effort to take citrate? will I see any improvement taking citrate or shoud I try to find the other kinds?

Thank you!

Zinc Side Effects

1 User Review

Posted by Sunny (Ca) on 10/09/2013

When I take Zinc with food it makes my stomach feel weird, like nausea. Does anyone know how to make this go away? Or has it happened to you? I drank milk and it kind of stopped.

Replied by Timh
(Ky, Usa)
2064 posts

@Sunny: It is imperative to not take Zinc (whatever form) w/ fiber foods. The fiber & phytates major interfere w/ absorption.

Replied by KT

I remember reading that zinc is best taken on an empty stomach. Just before you go to bed would be good.

Replied by Jean In La

Zinc causes nausea as a normal side effect. Try taking half a dose or even a quarter at a time. Also, it is recommended to take it away from food, especially some antibiotics. According to published research, Zinc acetate is the best one available, but is much more expensive and is prescribed as the drug Galzin by family doctors.

Replied by Sam

Check out zinc whole foods supplement. Always prefer whole food vs. synthetic supplements.

Replied by Purplebutterfly

Thank you.