Zinc Zaps Infection in Older People
A new study, from Wayne State University in Detroit, included 50 people ages 55 to 87. Half the group took a daily dose of zinc gluconate (45 mg of elemental zinc) for 12 months. The other half took blank look-alike pills. Infection rate was monitored in both groups, and included colds, upper respiratory infections, cold sores, flu and fever.
The infection rate in the people taking zinc was about one-third the rate in the people not taking zinc. Blood work from both groups also showed that the people taking zinc had lower levels of inflammatory markers and oxidative stress.
Zinc has many roles in the body, including the normal development of infection-fighting immune cells. Up to 30-35 % of older adults may be zinc deficient because of increased needs and dietary shortages. Supplementing with zinc may improve immune function and reduce unwanted inflammation in the body, leading to less chronic disease, researchers conclude. (Prasad, AS, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:837-44.)