Influenza Vaccination and Zinc

In the olden days scientific information was only published in scientific journals. News filtered down via newspapers and only then non-medical people could read of the latest scientific news. Now, the Internet delivers virtually all information, true or false, without any context. How would you know with site contains true information? Well, this site for instance.
On countless sites the connection between influenza and zinc is heralded. Zinc is a trace element which means that your body only needs an infinitely small amount of it. Just as all other trace elements, it is important for several functions in your body. Most sites claim that zinc is pivotal for a strong immunity and they are right. What these sites fail to mention is that zinc deficiency is usually due to insufficient dietary intake. In layman’s terms: you do not eat enough healthy foods but that doesn’t happen much in the western world.

It has been hypothesized that micronutrient levels of - amongst others zinc - play a role in the immune response to vaccination. It is also hypothesized that decreasing levels of nutrients would be associated with decreased responses to influenza vaccination. The purpose of a recent study was to determine whether serum zinc levels are associated with influenza vaccine response in adults 65 years or older. Participants in this study included 205 adults 65 years or older who received a influenza vaccine and donated blood samples before and 21 to 28 days after vaccination. Of these, 20% had low serum zinc levels.

After adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and prevaccination titer., the study showed no association between variations in levels of zinc and influenza vaccine response[1].

Our advice remains: eat healthy and vaccinate yourself against seasonal influenza.

[1] Sundaram et al: Vitamin E, vitamin A, and zinc status are not related to serologic response to influenza vaccine in older adults: an observational prospective cohort study in Nutrition Research - 2014

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