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Zinc May Help Boost Immune Response in Children

Zinc is considered an essential nutrient, meaning that your body can't produce or store it, so it must be obtained through food or supplements. A recent study suggests that supplementation with zinc may help boost the cellular immune response in children.

Participants in the study included 826 children between the ages of 2 and 5. They were given 10 mg of zinc or a placebo daily for 4 months. All participants were also given a capsule containing 200,000 IU of vitamin A 2 months into the study. Hair, blood, and saliva samples were taken at baseline, two months, and four months and used to measure hair zinc concentrations, serum vitamin A concentrations, and ex-vivo IFN-γ, serum IgG and salivary IgA.

The researchers found that zinc supplementation increased levels of ex-vivo IFN-γ, which is a cytokine produced by the cells of the immune system. The increase was greater in boys than girls, and in children younger than 3.5. In addition, zinc and vitamin A supplementation led to an increase in salivary IgG in younger and underweight children. Salivary IgG is a marker of the mucosal immune response.

The study was conducted by researchers from University of Queensland.It was published in the December 2020 issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition,

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