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Zinc Supplementation May Decrease Incidence of Infections in the Elderly

Zinc Supplementation May Decrease Incidence of Infections in the Elderly

Thursday, March 15th 2007

March 13, 2007 - Zinc supplements reduce the incidence of infection in elderly patients, according to the results of a small, randomized, double-blind trial reported in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Zinc deficiency, cell-mediated immune dysfunction, susceptibility to infections, and increased oxidative stress have been observed in elderly subjects (ie, those > 55 y old)," write Ananda S. Prasad, from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, and colleagues. "Zinc is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent."

At a senior center, a group of 49 healthy adults aged 55 to 87 years and inclusive of all ethnicities were randomized to zinc supplementation (zinc gluconate, 45 mg of elemental zinc per day) or placebo orally for 12 months. Outcome measures included incidence of infections during the study; generation of inflammatory cytokines, T helper 1 and T helper 2 cytokines, and oxidative stress markers; and plasma concentrations of zinc at baseline and after supplementation.

Compared with a group of younger adults, the older subjects had significantly lower baseline levels of plasma zinc, higher ex vivo generation of inflammatory cytokines and interleukin 10, and higher plasma oxidative stress markers and endothelial cell adhesion molecules.

Compared with the placebo group, the zinc-supplemented group had a significantly lower incidence of infections and ex vivo generation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and plasma oxidative stress markers, and significantly higher plasma zinc and phytohemagglutin-induced interleukin 2 messenger RNA in isolated mononuclear cells.

The main limitation of this study is the small sample size.

"After zinc supplementation, the incidence of infections was significantly lower, plasma zinc was significantly higher, and generation of tumor necrosis factor alpha and oxidative stress markers was significantly lower in the zinc-supplemented than in the placebo group," the authors write. "We hope that our results will stimulate larger zinc trials in the elderly."

The National Institutes of Health and Labcatal Laboratories (Paris, France) supported this study. None of the authors have disclosed any relevant financial relationships.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:837-844.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

I believe it is vital for all New Zealanders to take a daily supplement of zinc, as this vital mineral is deficient in our soils. The recommended daily amount is 15 mg, however most people need a lot more than this.

If you live on the North Shore of Auckland, call into our shop and ask for your free Zinc taste test. This is a simple way to determine your existing zinc status. Please make sure you have eaten before having the test, as some people can feel nauseated if it is taken on an empty stomach.

Having a zinc taste test can enable you to see if the amount of zinc you are currently taking is adequate for your daily needs.

The following products all contain Zinc:

Zinc Complex
Zinc Oral Drops
Zinc Optisorb
Mega Zinc Powder Raspberry
Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc
Echimax - Chewable Immune Support
Men's Formula
Superior Olive Leaf
Mineral Power

Related health information can be found here:

Astra Forte
Cold & Flu - Common Cold
Colostrum - immune booster, tissue repair
Winter ailments and immune boosting

Related articles can be found here:

Behind the science of Sambucol - virologist developed - clinically tested
Childhood vaccination: Is there a "dark side"
Improved Colostrum provides extra health benefits
Olive Leaf Extract - For Winter Ills and Much More
The winter first aid kit in a bottle

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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