Zinc and the risk of pneumonia.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Zinc
Professional Data: Zinc


Zinc is necessary for the functioning of over 300 different enzymes and, as such, it plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Much attention has been placed on this mineral for its role in the immune system. In humans, the highest concentrations of zinc are found in the liver, pancreas, kidneys, bone, and muscles. The best dietary sources of zinc are lean meats, liver, eggs, and seafood (especially oysters). Whole grain breads and cereals are also good sources of zinc.

Zinc helps regulate a wide variety of immune system functions and it may stimulate anti-viral activity.1 Because of these benefits, it has been studied for use as a treatment for the common cold.2 Zinc has been studied for use in a wide range of other disorders. Recently it has been studied in cases of pneumonia and acute lower respiratory track infections. This randomized placebo-controlled study was conducted in New Delhi, India. For 4 months 2482 children aged 6 to 30 months received 10 to 20 mg of zinc or placebo. All the children were administered a single substantial dose of vitamin A at the start of this study. All the children were visited weekly to monitor any infections or illnesses. The results showed that the zinc supplementation had no positive effects in respiratory track infections. However, children that received zinc had a lower incidence of pneumonia when compared to those who took the placebo. The authors concluded that, "Zinc supplementation substantially reduced the incidence of pneumonia in children who had received vitamin A."3


1. Taylor CG, et al. Dietary zinc deficiency and expression of T lymphocyte signal transduction proteins. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. Oct2000;78(10):823-8.
2. Mossad SB, et al. Zinc Gluconate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold. A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study. Ann Intern Med. Jul1996;125(2):81-88.
3. Bhandari N, et al. Effect of routine zinc supplementation on pneumonia in children aged 6 months to 3 years: randomised controlled trial in an urban slum. BMJ. Jun 2002;324:1358.