Zinc is an essential mineral with a wide range of roles in the human body, including supporting the function of over 300 enzymes. The body needs zinc to carry out normal metabolism and ensure the proper function of the reproductive, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
Foods high in zinc include animal products, such as meat, shellfish, chicken, and fortified breakfast cereal. However, beans, nuts, and seeds also contain zinc. Phytates in vegetables and grains can reduce the absorption of zinc and, therefore, vegetarians and vegans may need 50% more zinc in their diet.
Deficiency in zinc has associations with delayed growth in children, as well as increased risk of infection. It is also a significant risk factor for the development of pneumonia, which can be a consequence of COVID-19.
Zinc supports the production and maturation of white blood cells, which are the major players in the immune system. There are multiple types of white blood cells, some of which make antibodies, capture and destroy pathogens, and return the immune system to normal after an infection.
Zinc also helps to regulate inflammation. While an inflammatory response is necessary to fight infection, the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines early in the infection is responsible for some of the worst symptoms of COVID-19.
There is evidence that zinc may have an anti-inflammatory effect in pneumonia, limiting the damage to lung tissue.
For decades, scientists have known that zinc can block the replication of rhinoviruses responsible for respiratory infections in people, including the common cold.
Higher levels of zinc in cells help block the reproduction of rhinoviruses and stimulate interferon alfa production. This signaling molecule prompts nearby cells to initiate their anti-viral defenses.
Dr. Birken recommends 15 to 30 mg of Zinc along with Vitamin C 2000-3000 mg daily.
The office carries both as a pharmaceutical grade supplement.