Zinc supplements for seniors

Research: Add More Zinc to Your Daily Pill Popping Regimen

When’s the last time you had your blood tested for zinc? Maybe… never? That’s because zinc tests are famously inaccurate. But based on a new study published this month, some scientists are saying that tests or no tests, older people need to supplement in large doses.

As we age, it turns out, we become less and less able to absorb zinc. What’s more, our diets may be lacking in it; about 40 percent of older Americans have zinc-deficient diets. The combination can lead to a decline in immune system functioning and an increase in oxidation as well as the inflammation that leads to cancer, heart disease and a host of other ills.

“In zinc deficiency, the risk of which has been shown to increase with age, the body’s ability to repair genetic damage may be decreasing even as the amount of damage is going up.” —Dr. Emily Ho

In fact, in a study conducted with old mice by scientists at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Science, even the mice whose diets had sufficient zinc showed low zinc levels and high levels of inflammation. When the researchers jacked up the animals’ daily dose to ten times their RDA, those inflammatory markers returned to the levels of a young mouse.

Given these results, a principal investigator in the study, Emily Ho, now recommends that the elderly take their full RDA of zinc, regardless of diet. That’s 11 milligrams a day for men and 8 milligrams for women. The study authors also recommend an FDA rethink of the RDA for older adults, but warn against taking more than 40 milligrams a day. Good dietary sources of zinc are beef, pork, and lamb, with nuts, whole grains, legumes and yeast providing smaller amounts. If you like oysters, be happy: They contain the highest amount of zinc of any food.

Read the full story on Health News Digest by clicking here; or the study abstract published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

3 comments
  • dianne
    REPLY

    My doctor recommended my taking zinc for a skin condition (lots of moles) in conjunction with Lysine. When shopping the only amounts I saw were in 50mg. and 100 mg. for the zinc. Does that sound like too much given what you state above?

    • Barbara, Senior Planet editor
      REPLY

      Hi Dianne, I’m so sorry we can’t help you with this info, but we really aren’t qualified to make these kinds of recommendations, especially since your doctor wants you to take this therapeutically for a condition. Can you call your doctor’s office to check on the dose he/she recommends?

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