Zinc (Zn) is a component of at least 300 enzymes, and inadequate intake of Zn renders animals severely immunodeficient and highly susceptible to infection. Both innate and acquired immunity are inhibited by Zn deficiency. Some studies suggest that the Zn required for optimum immunity is higher than that for optimum productivity. For example, in humans daily Zn supplementation reduced the incidence and duration of diarrhea and reduced the incidence of acute and lower respiratory infections. Furthermore, strains of mice that are genetically susceptible to infection by a certain pathogen can be made resistant by consuming a Zn-enriched diet. However, adverse effects of Zn excess on lymphocyte proliferation and chemotaxis and phagocytosis of neutrophils are

Table 1 Several nutrients with well documented immunomodulatory effects

Primary immunological






Nitric oxide production



Primary nitrogen carrier

in blood

n 6 PUFAs


Promote inflammation

n 3 PUFAs


Inhibit inflammation

Vitamin E


Enhance humoral and

and Selenium

cell mediated immunity and

inhibit inflammatory

cytokine production

possible, and beneficial immunological effects of excess Zn have not been clearly demonstrated in livestock.

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