Minerals

Minerals that are crucial to immunity

Scientists have found that four minerals are crucial for immunity – iron, zinc, copper and selenium. Miniscule in terms of volumes, but they ensure the smooth functioning of 3 of the most important defence levels of the immune system – the defences of the skin and mucous membranes (zinc), cell immunity (iron, zinc, copper, selenium) and the ability to produce antibodies (zinc, copper, selenium).

Background information on the functioning of the immune system

The barrier function performed by the skin and mucous membranes is our first line of defence. This is so-called innate immunity. The barrier is mechanical, chemical and microbiological and it is located in the eyes, nose, oral cavity, lungs and gut.

The second type of immunity is adaptive immunity. This is the so-called cell immunity and humoral (antibody) immunity.

Even a minor deficiency of a micronutrient lowers immunity. The result is higher susceptibility to infections of the upper and lower airways, the urinary and genital tract.

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Zinc

  • for the functioning of the immune system – promotes growth, maturing and functioning of several immune cells (B, T, lymphocytes, killer cells etc);
  • pronounced zinc deficiency results in massive decrease in immune cell activity and antibody production;
  • an antioxidant – it protects immune cells from oxidative stress, working in synergy with vitamin C;
  • taking a zinc supplement within 24 h the appearance of initial cold symptoms can reduce the symptoms, as well as the gravity and duration of illness;
  • seniors with even a minor zinc deficiency are more susceptible to virus infections and allergies, which can be corrected by taking a zinc supplement;
  • for children supplementation with zinc can lower susceptibility to acute respiratory infections by 15%;
  • zinc deficiency is linked to slow healing of wounds.

Zinc is necessary for:

  • proper vision;
  • acid-alkaline metabolism;
  • metabolism of macroelements (carbohydrates, fat and protein);
  • brain function;
  • healthy bones;
  • healthy skin, hair and nails;
  • fertility and reproduction;
  • blood testosterone levels.
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Iron

  • for the functioning of the immune system – in case of iron deficiency anaemia cell immunity improves and frequency of infection decreases after taking additional iron;
  • vitamin C promotes absorption of iron.

Iron is necessary for:

  • energy producing metabolism;
  • production of red blood cells and hemoglobin;
  • preventing exhaustion and fatigue;
  • cell division process;
  • transporting oxygen throughout the body;
  • brain function.
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Selenium

  • for the functioning of the immune system – selenium deficiency can lead to decreased immunity, increased susceptibility to viruses and cancer;
  • for protecting cells against free radicals – selenium is part of glutathione peroxidase and other cell antioxidants in the body’s internal antioxidant system.

Selenium is necessary for:

  • energy producing metabolism;
  • connective tissue health;
  • spermatogenesis;
  • healthy hair and nails;
  • functioning of the thyroid.
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Copper

  • for the functioning of the immune system – copper deficiency causes neutropenia – an abnormally low count of neutrophils (immune cells);
  • in case of copper deficiency, additional use of it raises B cell (immune cells) count;
  • protects cells against oxidative stress.

Copper is necessary for:

  • connective tissue health;
  • energy producing metabolism;
  • functioning of the nervous system;
  • hair and skin pigmentation;
  • transporting iron throughout the body.
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