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      Immune-Enhancing Role of Vitamin C and Zinc and Effect on Clinical Conditions

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          Abstract

          Vitamin C concentrations in the plasma and leukocytes rapidly decline during infections and stress. Supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities, lymphocyte proliferation, chemotaxis, and delayed-type hypersensitivity. Vitamin C contributes to maintaining the redox integrity of cells and thereby protects them against reactive oxygen species generated during the respiratory burst and in the inflammatory response. Likewise, zinc undernutrition or deficiency was shown to impair cellular mediators of innate immunity such as phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, and the generation of oxidative burst. Therefore, both nutrients play important roles in immune function and the modulation of host resistance to infectious agents, reducing the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases. This is of special importance in populations in which insufficient intake of these nutrients is prevalent. In the developing world, this is the case in low- and middle-income countries, but also in subpopulations in industrialized countries, e.g. in the elderly. A large number of randomized controlled intervention trials with intakes of up to 1 g of vitamin C and up to 30 mg of zinc are available. These trials document that adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc ameliorate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold. Furthermore, vitamin C and zinc reduce the incidence and improve the outcome of pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea infections, especially in children in developing countries.

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          Most cited references49

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          An overview of the immune system.

          We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed, or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether these organisms penetrate and cause disease is a result of both the pathogenicity of the organism (the virulence factors at its disposal) and the integrity of host defence mechanisms. The immune system is an interactive network of lymphoid organs, cells, humoral factors, and cytokines. The essential function of the immune system in host defence is best illustrated when it goes wrong; underactivity resulting in the severe infections and tumours of immunodeficiency, overactivity in allergic and autoimmune disease. In this review we have covered the normal function of the immune system in recognising, repelling, and eradicating pathogens and other foreign molecules.
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            Zinc and the risk for infectious disease.

            Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human growth, development, and immune function. Zinc deficiency impairs overall immune function and resistance to infection. Mild to moderate zinc deficiency can be best detected through a positive response to supplementation trials. Zinc supplementation has been shown to have a positive effect on the incidence of diarrhea (18% reduction, 95% CI: 7-28%) and pneumonia (41% reduction, 95% CI: 17-59%), and might lead to a decrease in the incidence of malaria. Zinc has also proven to decrease the duration of diarrhea by 15% (95% CI: 5-24%). Maternal zinc supplementation may lead to a decrease in infant infections. Studies assessing the role of zinc supplementation among persons with HIV, tuberculosis, and the common cold have not been conclusive. Two studies have shown zinc supplementation to decrease child mortality by more than 50%. Zinc clearly has an important role in infant and childhood infectious diseases; programs to increase the intake of zinc among deficient populations are needed.
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              Effect of zinc supplementation started during diarrhoea on morbidity and mortality in Bangladeshi children: community randomised trial.

              To evaluate the effect on morbidity and mortality of providing daily zinc for 14 days to children with diarrhoea. Cluster randomised comparison. Matlab field site of International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh. 8070 children aged 3-59 months contributed 11 881 child years of observation during a two year period. Children with diarrhoea in the intervention clusters were treated with zinc (20 mg per day for 14 days); all children with diarrhoea were treated with oral rehydration therapy. Duration of episode of diarrhoea, incidence of diarrhoea and acute lower respiratory infections, admission to hospital for diarrhoea or acute lower respiratory infections, and child mortality. About 40% (399/1007) of diarrhoeal episodes were treated with zinc in the first four months of the trial; the rate rose to 67% (350/526) in month 5 and to >80% (364/434) in month 7 and was sustained at that level. Children from the intervention cluster received zinc for about seven days on average during each episode of diarrhoea. They had a shorter duration (hazard ratio 0.76, 95% confidence interval 0.65 to 0.90) and lower incidence of diarrhoea (rate ratio 0.85, 0.76 to 0.96) than children in the comparison group. Incidence of acute lower respiratory infection was reduced in the intervention group but not in the comparison group. Admission to hospital of children with diarrhoea was lower in the intervention group than in the comparison group (0.76, 0.59 to 0.98). Admission for acute lower respiratory infection was lower in the intervention group, but this was not statistically significant (0.81, 0.53 to 1.23). The rate of non-injury deaths in the intervention clusters was considerably lower (0.49, 0.25 to 0.94). The lower rates of child morbidity and mortality with zinc treatment represent substantial benefits from a simple and inexpensive intervention that can be incorporated in existing efforts to control diarrhoeal disease.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                ANM
                Ann Nutr Metab
                10.1159/issn.0250-6807
                Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism
                S. Karger AG
                0250-6807
                1421-9697
                2006
                February 2006
                27 February 2006
                : 50
                : 2
                : 85-94
                Affiliations
                aBayer Consumer Care Ltd., Basel, and bReinach, Switzerland
                Article
                90495 Ann Nutr Metab 2006;50:85–94
                10.1159/000090495
                16373990
                3288cbe4-2d93-42ca-ac43-30fee6164c0a
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                History
                : 28 April 2005
                : 14 September 2005
                Page count
                References: 93, Pages: 10
                Categories
                Review

                Nutrition & Dietetics,Health & Social care,Public health
                Risk of infections,Zinc,Oxidative stress,Effects on immune response,Vitamin C

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