Why Your Immune System Needs Zinc

on April 23, 2021

Why Zinc is Important for the Body

Zinc is a micronutrient with macro-functions in the body. It is needed in small quantities in our body, about 8 mg/day for women, and 11 mg/day for men. Zinc is a required nutrient for every single life form and is the most abundant intracellular metal ions found in our body.

A slight decrease in the amount of zinc in our body poses a grave challenge for the body. This is because zinc is implicated in a myriad of biological functions, most prominently, the maintenance of the immune system.


Zinc is Essential For Our Body and Here Are the Reasons

Zinc is an immune booster and so its deficiency compromises our overall body health. It is found in combination with hundreds of enzyme and hormones and function to regulate and maintain the well-being of our skin, muscles, bones, nails, teeth, hair as well as the brain. Additionally, it helps in DNA formation and consequently the formation of proteins and cell membranes. Protein formation is required for our immune function. Other functions of zinc include:


  • Zinc serves as an antioxidant: It reduces oxidative stress thereby decreasing the quantity of some inflammatory proteins in the body. Oxidative stress can result in chronic inflammation which is a risk factor in some illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases.
  • It reduces ageing: It maintains healthy ageing by repairing DNA and RNA together with preventing neoplastic cell growth.
  • It helps in the healing of wound: Oral ingestion of zinc supplements are useful in treating a wound or skin ulcer. However, topical administration of zinc is understood to be more effective than oral ingestion as it acts to reduce superinfection through improved local defence structures.
  • It boosts the immune system: Zinc is highly necessary for the growth and development of the body and its deficiency affects many aspects of innate and adaptive immunity. The biological processes that occur during growth are numerous and require a continuous supply of an adequate amount of zinc to maintain proper immunity.


Role of Zinc in Boosting Our Immune System

The role of zinc as immune booster comes from its influence on T lymphocytes (T cells). In the body system, zinc turns on the T lymphocytes which helps to maintain the immune system by attacking infected cells and foreign bodies (antigens). The T lymphocytes also control and regulate immune responses.

Since zinc triggers the T cells to modulate and boost our immunity, its deficiency, therefore, exerts severe impairment on the immune system by reducing the number of T cells, production of antibodies, phagocytosis and cell-mediated immunity.


Sources of Zinc

Fortunately, many foods of plant and animal origin are rich sources of zinc making it less difficult for us to get adequate supply via diet

Meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb are excellent sources of zinc.


  • Meat, like beef, lamb and pork
  • Shellfish such as lobster, crabs, clams and oysters
  • Legumes like black beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yoghurt
  • Nuts and seeds, which include cashews, hemp and pumpkin seeds
  • Grains such as quinoa, oats and brown rice
  • Eggs

For those on a vegetarian diet is should be noted that even though legumes and grains contain substantial amounts of zinc, they also contain phytates, which inhibit the absorption of zinc.  



Zinc is an important nutrient for our body with severe deficiency consequences. It functions to modulate and boost the immune system among other numerous biological functions.



This blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. Please always consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any medical conditions. All content on this page has been thoroughly reviewed. Nevertheless, no liability can be accepted for the completeness and accuracy of the information.