by Gina Nick, NMD, PhD
A study of 600 nursing facility residents has found that those with adequate zinc levels were about fifty percent less likely to develop pneumonia than those with low body concentrations of zinc. Also, those with sufficient levels of zinc received fewer prescriptions for antibiotics, had shorter durations of pneumonia and had lower mortality rates.
The researchers suggested that zinc supplementation for zinc-deficient elderly persons may result in a lower incidence of pneumonia and that further study is required to determine whether zinc supplements may be an effective and low-cost intervention to reduce pneumonia deaths among vulnerable populations who already have low zinc intakes. (An earlier analysis of the same data had shown that those who consumed 200 international units (IU) of vitamin E were less likely to get upper respiratory infections, such as colds.) The study was released August 10, 2010 and will be published in a future issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the meantime, it can be read online at by subscribers to the journal or those who pay the article access fee.
The evidence is mounting that proper nutrient levels keep us well. In general licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctors will not, however, advise that everyone run out and buy a high potency vitamin and mineral supplement. We are all unique, and what we have discovered at our office is that one person may have toxic levels of zinc in their body, while another may have a deficiency. That is why we are strong proponents for testing to discover what your unique nutrient, amino acid and fatty acid needs are. Armed with objective information on your body, we can then create a plan for you of what supplements to take, in what form, how often, and what dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to keep you healthy, well and safe!