Zinc deficiency may contribute to life-threatening inflammation in the face of serious infection. The researchers at Ohio State University used animal models and human cell cultures to study the immune response to infection. They found that when zinc was adequate, the innate immune response was effective but did not get out of control. When zinc levels are too low, however, the immune reaction may run amok and lead to excessive inflammation that could be deadly. This might also help explain why zinc may be helpful against the common cold.The scientists posit that about 40% of elderly Americans may suffer from zinc deficiency because they get too little red meat and shellfish in their diets.
[Cell Reports, Feb. 8, 2013]
We discuss zinc lozenges (zinc acetate or zinc gluconate are the ones to use, without citric acid) in our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu. The guide also offers a number of other cold remedies; nearly all of them work best if used early in the illness.