Unlocking the Power of Essential Minerals for Immune Health 

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Posted: April 16, 2024

Helping our immune system function optimally requires a multifaceted approach, with proper nutrition playing a central role. While numerous nutrients contribute to immune function, zinc remains a standout essential mineral due to its versatile roles in supporting overall health. Join us as we delve into the significance of zinc and explore other essential minerals such as iron, folate, selenium, and copper, discovering their crucial contributions to immune health. At Balchem, we’re committed to advancing research on these minerals and providing innovative solutions to support immune health, 


Zinc, a cornerstone of immune health, plays multifaceted roles in supporting the body’s defense mechanisms and overall well-being. One important aspect lies in its support of T-cell development—a pivotal process in the immune response against pathogens.1   T-cells, originating from the thymus gland, rely on zinc’s presence for the production of thymulin, a hormone crucial for their function. Recent studies have underscored zinc’s significance, showing how its deficiency can impede thymulin production, thereby compromising the body’s ability to effectively defend against infections. 2 Zinc is also important for maintaining proper B-cell function, essential for antibody production and targeted pathogen elimination. 3 Additionally, zinc aids in the neutralization of harmful oxygen radicals and protects cells against oxidative stress.4 Ensuring an adequate intake of zinc-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help support immune function.5  


Did you know that iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world? 6 Iron, an essential mineral, is integral to numerous important processes in the body. It facilitates the synthesis of crucial proteins, aids in oxygen transport and storage, and supports muscle metabolism. 7 Adequate iron levels are necessary for various immune processes, including the production of T lymphocytes and the generation of reactive oxygen species that help combat pathogens. 8, 9 Dietary iron exists in two main forms: heme (found in animal products) and nonheme (found in plant-based and fortified foods) – with the latter being less bioavailable. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans have a higher requirement for iron, and are at greater risk of deficiency. 7 

Minerals play a vital role in immune function, and inadequate intake of micronutrients can have serious effects on the diverse and complex functions within the immune system.  The role of the immune system is so wide-ranging that there is a function for every mineral somewhere in the mix.

Other minerals that have been extensively studied regarding their roles in supporting proper immune function include zinc, iron, selenium, and copper. 10 

  • Folate: Folate helps maintain innate immunity through natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells play a major role in the host-rejection of virally infected cells.10 It is also essential for sufficient antibody response to antigens. 11 
  • Selenium: Selenium is essential for the functioning of selenoproteins, which support the antioxidant host defense system, and affect NK cell function. 11 It is also involved in the generation of T cells, which help recognize and deal with unwanted invaders in the body.11 
  • Copper: Copper has roles in T cell proliferation, antibody production and cellular immunity. It is a free-radical scavenger 10 and may play a role in the innate immune response. 9  

It is important to remember that not all minerals are created equal. Minerals come in a variety of forms based on their source, processing and delivery methods. Some mineral forms are difficult to digest, may cause digestive discomfort, or may simply not be available for use by the body. 

Years of extensive research, clinical analysis, third-party critiques, and strict laboratory manufacturing processes have enabled Balchem to develop the highest quality, fully reacted and effective mineral chelates, providing you the greatest chance to absorb the minerals for the best immune support advantage. 

Contact us today to hear more about our various options that can help you support your immune system.    


1. IJMS | Free Full-Text | Zinc Signals and Immunity. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/18/10/2222 

2. Comparison of Thymulin Activity with Other Measures of Marginal Zinc Deficiency | Biological Trace Element Research. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12011-020-02159-y 

3. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function – PubMed. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29186856/ 

4. Zinc in Infection and Inflammation – PubMed. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28629136/ 

5. Zinc – Health Professional Fact Sheet. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ 

6. Main nutritional deficiencies – PMC. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9710417/ 

7. Office of Dietary Supplements – Iron. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/ 

8. Immunity In Brief. Linus Pauling Institute. Published February 13, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/immunity-in-brief 

9. Iron in Infection and Immunity – PMC. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676888/ 

10. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals on the Immune System – Patricia T. Alpert, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1084822317713300 

11. Full article: Studying the impact of nutritional immunology underlying the modulation of immune responses by nutritional compounds – a review. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09540105.2015.1079600 

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