You may have noticed that zinc lozenges have quite a strong taste, or perhaps they make your tongue sore. Well this atom-sized (nano) zinc does not require digestion (safe for the gut) and is tasteless when mixed with a liquid like water, juice, tea, smoothie, shake... or my favorite: 1 dropperful in my Emergen-C drink!
Zinc is an essential mineral (trace element) which takes part in many aspects of cellular metabolism. It's vital for growth and development, as well as immune function. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) fact sheet on zinc, zinc is "required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes, plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system."
This 2019 study review summarizes clinical evidence which "examines zinc as a direct antiviral, as well as a critical factor of antiviral immunity, particularly as zinc-deficient populations are often most at risk of acquiring viral infections such as HIV or hepatitis C virus."
Zinc deficiency is surprisingly common (moreso in developing countries), usually due to lifestyle, age, and disease-mediated factors. I touch a bit upon zinc deficiency in my blog post Low Hydrochloric Acid & Leaky Gut Syndrome (mentioned at the beginning of this post). Zinc is essential to maintain normal physiology, and deficiency can manifest in many forms -
ranging from delayed wound healing to immune dysfunction and impairment of multiple sensory systems.
Zinc can play an important role in stress and chronic inflammation as well.
In this study investigators used zinc supplementation (given either to support immunity, or by correcting zinc dependent immune functions in people with zinc deficiency) to affect the outcome of various diseases. There were benefits observed in children with diarrhea, chronic hepatitis C, shigellosis, leprosy, tuberculosis, pneumonia, acute lower respiratory tract infection, common cold, and leishmaniasis.