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Zinc deficiency is recognized in a malnourished group of people who presents with hepatosplenomegaly, hypogonadism, dwarfism and an increased risk of infection. Zinc is the 2nd most abundant trace metal in the human body after iron. It is a vital component of protein structure and function. Biologically, zinc is necessary for cellular processes that includes growth and development, along with DNA synthesis and RNA transcription.
Zinc is essential for growth, development, and the maintenance of immune function. Zinc deficiency is very common affecting distinct populations in the developed countries due to lifestyle, age, and disease-mediated factors. Zinc status is an important factor that can influence antiviral immunity, particularly as zinc-deficient individuals are at risk of acquiring viral infections.
Zinc can act as a direct antiviral and a stimulant of antiviral immunity. There is plenty of evidence that has added more than 50 years to prove the antiviral activity of zinc against a variety of viruses, and via several mechanisms. The antiviral mechanisms and clinical benefit of zinc supplementation as a preventative and helpful treatment for viral infections is considered.
Data indicate that zinc deficiency is related with high disease activity in the perspective of chronic viral infection. Oral zinc supplementation might act in a synergistic manner after co-administered with antiviral treatment and contribute to enhanced clinical outcomes.
Zinc supplementation at a therapeutic dose and in the correct method has the potential to significantly improve the clearance of both chronic and acute viral infections, along with their associated pathologies and symptoms.
Source: Read SA, Obeid S, Ahlenstiel C, Ahlenstiel G. The Role of Zinc in Antiviral Immunity. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(4):696-710. doi:10.1093/advances/nmz013