Zinc is an essential nutrient in the immune system, where it is used to by many of the processes in the bloodstream that become active in combating infections, including increased production of white blood cells . It also protects the intestinal walls from infections. Zinc has direct antiviral effects and supports the activation of antioxidant defenses in damaged tissues.
All growing cells also require zinc on a routine basis, which is why zinc deficiency is associated with growth delays in infants and children. This also means that tissues with faster rates of growth and regeneration are affected, including cells in the intestine, blood and skin.