Metal protector

I’m sure I’ve mentioned the importance of zinc before.

For one thing, it’s a key element in testosterone production, which makes it especially important for men. (Though women definitely benefit, too.)

But new research is focusing on another one of zinc’s famous roles–namely, as a cornerstone of your body’s immune system.

This mineral offers essential protection against all kinds of infections. And thanks to recent laboratory research, scientists now know a little bit more about how zinc serves this critical purpose.

Researchers looked at human monocytes, which are among your immune system’s first responders. They found that when your immune response activates, a gene is expressed that creates a “zinc transporter” called ZIP8.

This transporter moves zinc from your blood stream into your cells. And once there, zinc will bind with a protein that stops activity along your body’s main inflammatory pathways.

In a nutshell, zinc doesn’t fight infection by boosting your immune response. It fights infection by regulating it… and keeping inflammation in check as a result.

So be sure to keep that zinc supplement handy. Because winter’s not over yet… and lower inflammation does a body good all year round.

Ohio State University. “Zinc helps against infection by tapping brakes in immune response.” ScienceDaily, 7 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.