Zinc Ions

Zinc in Immulina Plus

Immulina Plus provides easy absorbable zinc in a form of zinc gluconate. Each capsule contains 35 mg of zinc gluconate providing 5 mg Zn++, which makes 50 % RDA (recommended daily allowance).

Zinc is a trace element essential for humans and it is vital for many biological functions and plays a crucial role in more than 300 enzymes in the human body. The adult body contains about 3 grams of zinc. Zinc is found in all parts of the body: it is in organs, tissues, bones, fluids and cells. Muscles and bones contain most of the body’s zinc (90%). Particularly high concentrations of zinc are in the prostate gland and semen.

Zinc and Immune System

Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system, and zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. The immunologic mechanisms whereby zinc modulates increased susceptibility to infection have been studied for several decades. It is clear that zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, from the barrier of the skin to gene regulation within lymphocytes. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells. Zinc deficiency also affects development of acquired immunity by preventing both the outgrowth and certain functions of T lymphocytes such as activation, Th1 cytokine production, and B lymphocyte help. Likewise, B lymphocyte development and anti-body production, particularly immunoglobulin G, is compromised. The macrophage, a pivotal cell in many immunologic functions, is adversely affected by zinc deficiency, which can dysregulate intracellular killing, cytokine production, and phagocytosis. The effects of zinc on these key immunologic mediators is rooted in the myriad roles for zinc in basic cellular functions such as DNA replication, RNA transcription, cell division, and cell activation. Apoptosis is potentiated by zinc deficiency. Zinc also functions as an antioxidant and can stabilize membranes. This review explores these aspects of zinc biology of the immune system and attempts to provide a biological basis for the altered host resistance to infections observed during zinc deficiency and supplementation.


Drop of zinc plasma level in acute phase of infection has been observed in several studies. This is mainly due to competition for zinc binding in the host-pathogen interaction. This finding (drop of zinc plasma level) has been confirmed in number of studies where consistent decline of plasma zinc level has been found short before or after the oneset of febrile infections. The plasma zinc concentrations are very low among children with acute malaria infection and are inversely correlated with CRP, as well as other measures of disease severity such as body temperature and parasite density in peripheral blood.

This changes in zinc level came along with elevation of selected plasma proteins such as CRP (C-reactive protein) α1-antitrypsin, haptoglobin, α1-glycoprotein - a predictable set of metabolic reactions to infection or tissue injury known as the acute-phase response. The part of the depression in plasma zinc concentration is likely related to the redistribution of zinc in the acute phase response, zinc supplementation was effective at improving this measure of zinc status, even when CRP and time were taken into account.

Other Effects of Zinc

Zinc is an essential element necessary for the normal function of all organs and body systems. Dietary supplementation of zinc has positive impact on the whole body just to list the most important issues:

  • Zinc - vital for growth and cell division. It is especially important during pregnancy, for the growing fetus whose cells are rapidly dividing. Zinc also helps to avoid congenital abnormalities and pre-term delivery. Zinc is vital in activating growth - height, weight and bone development - in infants, children and teenagers
  • Zinc is important for our senses and particularly sight, smell and taste. High concentrations of zinc are found in the retina. With age the retinal zinc declines which seems to play a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which leads to partial or complete loss of vision. Zinc may also protect from night blindness and prevent the development of cataracts. Zinc activates areas of the brain that receive and process information from taste and smell sensors. Levels of zinc in plasma and zinc’s effect on other nutrients, like copper and manganese, influence appetite and taste preference. Zinc is also used in the treatment of anorexia
  • Zinc is vital for sexual system of men. It helps maintain semen production1 and spermatogenesis2 count and mobility of sperm cells and normal levels of serum testosterone. Zinc protects the prostate gland from infection (prostatitis) and ultimately from enlargement (prostatic hypertrophy). It also maintains both woman and man libido3. Zinc plays a vital role in fertility
  • Zinc – vital for skin, hair and nails. It accelerates the renewal of the skin cells. Zinc creams are used for babies to soothe diaper rash and to heal cuts and wounds. Zinc has also proven effective in treating acne, a problem that affects especially adolescents, and zinc has been reported to have a positive effect on psoriasis, eczema and neurodermitis. Zinc is also used as an anti-inflammatory agent and can help sooth the skin tissue, particularly in cases of poison ivy, sunburn, blisters and certain gum diseases. Zinc is important for healthy hair. Insufficient zinc levels may result in loss of hair, hair that looks thin and dull and that goes grey early. There are also a number of shampoos which contain zinc to help prevent dandruff
  • Zinc is important for digestive system health. Zinc deficiency may lead to peptic ulcer disease and digestive infection (Zinc Supplementation in Diarrhea)

Zinc Safety

Although consequences of zinc deficiency have been recognized for many years, it is only recently that attention has been directed to the potential consequences of excessive zinc intake. This is a review of the literature on manifestations of toxicity at several levels of zinc intake. Zinc is considered to be relatively nontoxic, particularly if taken orally. However, manifestations of overt toxicity symptoms (nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, lethargy, and fatigue) will occur with extremely high zinc intakes. Excessive zinc intake may also induce iron and cooper deficiency that results in anemia, neutropenia and blood lipids disorder.

1 Semen is a milky liquid that contains semen cells (spermatozoa) is produced by glands of male reproductive organs mainly by prostate gland and seminal vesicles. Normal semen is essential for healthy and viable sperm cells.

2 Spermatogenesis is production of sperm cells by testicles.

3 The term "libido" was introduced by Sigmund Freud (Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis), who under the term libido understood a form of instinct energy through that different life drives (not only sexual) could be accomplished. Today libido term is narrowed to that could be described commonly as "sexual appetite".

Dietary Zinc Requirements

There are very many factors influencing zinc requirement for normal healthy person. Just to specify few the most important: age, gender, physical activity, life style, type of diet used. It is well known negative role of phytate and phytic acid* in diet for zinc absorbtion from GI tract. Phytic acid, mostly as phytate, is found within the hulls of seeds, including nuts, grains and pulses. Cooking the food will reduce the phytic acid to some degree. Therefore EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) has formulated that as AR (average requirement [mg/day]) and PRI (population reference intake [mg/day]) that are presented in a table below.


* Phytic acid (known as inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6), inositol polyphosphate, or phytate when in salt form), discovered in 1903, a saturated cyclic acid, is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially bran and seeds. It can be found in cereals and grains.

Zinc: The must-have mineral

Zinc is so essential to your health that experts struggle to neatly summarize what it does. A better question might be, what doesn’t it do? "Zinc is required by every cell, system, and organ in your body", says Michael Hambidge, PhD, professor emeritus of pediatrics and nutrition at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "It’s just of outstanding importance", he adds. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), zinc plays an indispensable role in cell metabolism, immune function, digestion, DNA expression, and wound healing. “It’s involved in nearly every biological process,” Hambidge says. "And because its functions are so diverse, symptoms of a deficiency are also diverse."

The good news is that zinc is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth, and is found in many foods. But some people – especially those with gut disorders, or those who adhere to restrictive diets—may have cause for concern. Read on to find out how to identify a zinc deficiency, and how to prevent low zinc in the first place.

Signs and symptoms of a deficiency

Because zinc plays such an important role in your body, the symptoms of a deficiency can show up in a hundred ways. But some of the more common symptoms include diarrhea, hair loss, eye and skin conditions, impotence, and loss of appetite, says Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, RD, a certified personal trainer and food industry consultant. Foggy thinking, weight loss, and frequent illness (due to immune system weakness) could also be signs of a deficiency, Hambidge adds.

However, true zinc deficiencies are rare, and most Americans consume enough zinc through diet, according to the NIH. Much more common is zinc inadequacy. The NIH reports that 20 to 25% of U.S. adults over age 60 have inadequate zinc intakes.

Diagnosing a zinc deficiency is not straightforward

Blood levels of zinc are not always a reliable gauge of how much zinc your body has or lacks, Hambidge says. And because the symptoms of a zinc deficiency are widespread and "non-specific" – meaning they’re associated with many other health conditions – diagnosing a zinc deficiency isn’t easy, he says. If you’re worried about a zinc shortage, your doctor will assess your symptoms and, if she deems it necessary, test your blood. Taken together, these indicators can give her a good idea of whether you have low zinc.

The symptoms change with age

Young children who aren’t getting enough zinc may experience slow or stunted growth, loss of appetite, a rotten mood, and “failure to thrive,” Hambidge says. Among older adults—a group that may be at increased risk because of poor diet or inadequate food intake—zinc deficiency is more likely to show up as problems thinking, a weakened immune system, or macular degeneration, he says.

How much zinc should we consume?

The National Academy of Medicine’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 mg for adult men need 8 mg for adult women. For pregnant women, the NAM recommends intakes in the range of 11 to 12 mg. While it’s fine to pay attention to the amount of zinc in the foods you eat, Hambidge reiterates that it’s tough to estimate exactly how much zinc an individual will get from diet. Your gut is not like anyone else’s gut, and the amount of zinc your body absorbs depends on some of the other health and dietary factors mentioned above.

The best food sources of zinc

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Almost everything you eat contains a little zinc. But its bioavailability - the amount of the mineral your body can easily extract and use - varies from food group to food group, Hambidge says. Along with mollusks like oysters, "animal meats are the best sources of zinc," he says. "If you eat a carnivorous or omnivorous diet, you’re at low risk for a deficiency." Whole grains, too, contain some zinc. "But the amount depends on what’s been done to the grain," he says. "Polished rice or processed grains may not have much zinc left, but whole grains will have a fair amount." Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with zinc.

Vegans and vegetarians may be at risk of zinc inadequacy

Zinc is a mineral "of great concern" for vegetarians and vegans, per a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN). (The other mineral of concern is iron.) Meat is high in bioavailable zinc and may actually enhance absorption, so vegetarians and vegans – who don't eat meat – may need up to 50% more of the RDA for zinc than people who do eat meat. What's more, many plant foods – especially legumes and whole grains – contain a compound called phytic acid that blocks the absorption of zinc. But vegetarians don't necessarily need to pop a supplement or go back to their carnivorous ways. Soaking beans, grains, and seeds in water for several hours until sprouts form can increase zinc bioavailability in those foods.

Pregnant women are at increased risk for becoming zinc insufficient

Zinc plays a crucial role in human development, Hambidge says. So children, teens, and pregnant or nursing moms may need more zinc in order to meet their own (or their newborn’s) nutrient demands. Kids who are following a parent’s strict vegetarian or vegan diet could be particularly at risk for inadequacy, Hambidge says. "But one thing we’re not sure about yet is how much the human digestive system can adapt based on need," he says. "There’s some evidence that pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers have increased zinc absorption as a result of increased need." He and other experts are still sorting all this out.

Your GI conditions may play a role

Certain gastrointestinal disorders may up your risk of developing a zinc deficiency. "The gastrointestinal conditions most often associated with zinc deficiency are Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome," says Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, senior education coordinator at the University of Maryland’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology. These conditions both decrease zinc absorption, she explains. Chronic diarrhea can also lead to zinc loss.

Sickle cell disease can increase your odds of a deficiency

Zinc deficiency affects 60 to 70% of adults with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition in which abnormal blood cells carry less oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and where abnormal blood cells clump and get stuck in blood vessels. It can be a painful condition, and lead to infections and organ damage.

Alcohol dependency can up your risk

Roughly 30% to 50% of people who abuse alcohol suffer from "low zinc status," according to the NIH. Alcohol appears to block your intestines’ absorption of zinc while simultaneously upping the amount of zinc you lose when you pee, the NIH reports.

If you have a zinc deficiency, your iron levels may also be low

Many of the same foods that are full of zinc – namely, animal sources of meat – are also the best dietary sources of iron. (As mentioned earlier, some research links vegan and vegetarian diets to lower levels of both these minerals.) So if you’re worried your body’s zinc stores are running low, you may also want to pay attention to your iron intakes. Just don’t go nuts with zinc and iron supplements. Yet another AJCN study finds taking zinc and iron together can limit your body’s iron absorption.

Think twice before taking a supplement

If you have zinc inadequacy or deficiency, you may want to consider supplements – but consult your doctor first. Hambridge says adding a supplement with 5 to 10 mg of zinc to your diet could be particularly beneficial for vegans and vegetarians, as well as for those who have gut disease like Crohn’s.

However, too much zinc can be harmful and may cause symptoms like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Zinc can also interfere with medications, such as certain types of antibiotics and diuretics. The National Institutes recommends that adults get no more than 40 milligrams of zinc per day.

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