Zinc deficiency could be the key to chronic diseases as we age
Zinc deficiency could be the key to a range of chronic illnesses as we get older, from cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease and diabetes, say researchers.
The micronutrient appears to keep inflammation in check, which is increasingly being recognised as the cause of many diseases. But a poor diet and an inability to absorb zinc as we age often leads to a deficiency in the elderly, say researchers from Oregon State University.
This deficiency leads to DNA damage and systemic inflammation, which is associated with most chronic, degenerative diseases, and yet it remains an unsuspected cause because nobody is measuring it.
The researchers recommend that all elderly people supplement with 11 mg of zinc a day, which is the recommended daily intake. Amounts above 40 mg should be avoided, as high levels of zinc prevent other nutrients, such as iron and copper, from being properly absorbed.
(Source: Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2012; doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.07.005).