Zinc Deficiency Mechanism Linked to Aging, Multiple Diseases

This is extra important if you're a vegetarian!

A new study has outlined for the first time a biological mechanism by which zinc deficiency can develop with age, leading to a decline of the immune system and increased inflammation associated with many health problems, including cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease and diabetes.

...it's especially important for elderly people to get adequate dietary intake of zinc, since they may need more of it at this life stage when their ability to absorb it is declining.

About 40 percent of elderly Americans and as many as two billion people around the world have diets that are deficient in this important, but often underappreciated micronutrient, experts say....

When the animals were given about 10 times their dietary requirement for zinc, the biomarkers of inflammation were restored to those of young animals.

"We've previously shown in both animal and human studies that zinc deficiency can cause DNA damage, and this new work shows how it can help lead to systemic inflammation,"...

... she would recommend all senior citizens take a dietary supplement that includes the full RDA for zinc, which is 11 milligrams a day for men and 8 milligrams for women. Zinc can be obtained in the diet from seafood and meats, but it's more difficult to absorb from grains and vegetables -- a particular concern for vegetarians.

Medical tests to determine zinc deficiency are rarely done, scientists say, and are not particularly accurate even if they are done. The best approach is to assure adequate intake of the nutrient through diet or supplements, they said, especially in the elderly.

Levels of zinc intake above 40 milligrams per day should be avoided, researchers said,...

Before reading this, I'd assumed that I was getting enough Zinc in my diet, and didn't bother taking it. But I have chronic inflammation. My joint specialist just put me on an anti-inflammatory medication. It looks as if zinc is just what I need.

Oysters have the highest zinc content of almost any food.

Tags: autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes, healthy aging, heart disease, inflammation, mineral deficiency, zinc, zinc deficiency

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