NIH Zinc Fact Sheet: Even mild to moderate degrees of zinc deficiency can impair immunity functions

National Institutes of Health

Zinc

Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

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Zinc and Health

Immune function

Severe zinc deficiency depresses immune function [51], and even mild to moderate degrees of zinc deficiency can impair macrophage and neutrophil functions, natural killer cell activity, and complement activity [52]. The body requires zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes [2,53]. Individuals with low zinc levels have shown reduced lymphocyte proliferation response to mitogens and other adverse alterations in immunity that can be corrected by zinc supplementation [52,54]. These alterations in immune function might explain why low zinc status has been associated with increased susceptibility to pneumonia and other infections in children in developing countries and the elderly [55-58].

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