Zinc Strengthens Immune System

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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

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Al Sears, MD
12794 Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 16
Wellington, FL 33414
December 20, 2007

Getting pneumonia is not simply a case of having the bad luck of running into the wrong kind of bacteria. You can take simple steps to prevent it.

One of the keys is getting enough of a specific mineral you may be lacking. For example, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just revealed a strong link between zinc and pneumonia in retirees.1 Researchers found that people with normal zinc levels had much lower rates of pneumonia.

Those with healthy zinc levels were also less likely to need new antibiotic prescriptions to treat pneumonia. And those who did decide to take antibiotics went off them twice as fast as the low-zinc group. And they beat pneumonia almost twice as fast overall.

This is great news, since pneumonia is one of top ten causes of death for older folks. But that's not all: the study also found that death rates overall were significantly lower among people with healthy zinc levels, regardless of whether or not they had pneumonia.

Zinc is a vital nutrient. Most people don't know it - including a surprising number of doctors - but in addition to getting sick more often, zinc deficiency stunts growth and lengthens the amount of time your body needs to heal from cuts, bruises, and other wounds.

Zinc is also a heart-health booster. In one key study of dietary zinc in 3,500 people in India, those who got less than 7 mgs per day were more likely to suffer from heart disease.2 They had higher rates of high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels (the "bad" fat that leads to blocked arteries), and low HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind) - all factors that put you on the fast track to a heart attack.

The same study found lower rates of diabetes in the zinc-healthy group. And that's the third major reason: zinc plays a key role in helping your pancreas regulate how much insulin it makes and releases into your bloodstream. It also gives your body a hand in absorbing and converting sugar into energy. When your body can't do either very well, you've got diabetes.

Finally, zinc's a proven cancer fighter, particularly for men. In fact, it's critical to prostate health: of all the organs in the body, the prostate gland contains the highest concentration of zinc.

When you consider that heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory illness are among the leading causes of death in any given year worldwide, you can see how important zinc really is.  And, it's not only great for folks over 50, but it's great for any age.  

Good sources of zinc are:

  • Lean meats
  • Seafood (especially oysters)
  • Yogurt
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Peas

Of course, always go for free-range, wild-caught, hormone-free, and organic if you can.

You can also find zinc supplements on-line or in health food stores. I recommend 30 mg per day to get the maximum benefit.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD


1 Meydani et al, "Serum zinc and pneumonia in nursing home elderly," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007; 86(4):1167-73.
2 Singh et al, "Current zinc intake and risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease and factors associated with insulin resistance in rural and urban populations of north India," Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1998;17:564-570.

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