A new study has sought to explain the exact mechanism behind the long known role of zinc in fighting infections and boosting the immune system.
The work done at the Center for Nutritional Sciences at the University of Florida focused on testing healthy volunteers who were divided into two groups – one which took nutritional supplements containing zinc and the other which was given placebo.
The investigators then analyzed T cells from the participants’ blood samples and simulated infection in laboratory conditions. They found that T cells from the zinc-supplemented group had a higher activation rate than those from the control group.
T cells are responsible for destroying viruses and bacteria and are at the forefront of the body’s immune system response.
Dr. John Wherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology which published the results, says that "studies like this help shed light on how zinc may enhance the ability of our immune systems to fight off foreign invaders."
He adds that the value of the research lies in the fact that it may lead to new treatments for infections, many of which are becoming increasingly resistant to traditional antibiotics.