Zinc supplementation may be very important for the elderly

October 07, 2014

Zinc supplementation may be very important for the elderly

     Many chronic diseases of the elderly including atherosclerosis, diabetes, neuro-degenerative disorders, Parkinson's disease and age related macular degeneration are related to chronic inflammation and increased oxidative stress.
The mineral Zinc plays an important role in immunity and healing and it is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. In developed countries nearly 30% of the elderly are zinc deficient, with many others having low Zinc, but not to the level of deficiency.

Researchers from the Department of Medical Oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit report that studies where the elderly are supplemented with Zinc have shown decreased numbers of infections, improved antioxidant activity (decreased oxidative stress – or internal rusting), and decreased generation of inflammatory cytokines; biochemical molecules that increase inflammation.

Decreased incidences of blindness in patients with age related macular degeneration and increased protection against hardening of the arteries (atherogenesis) have been observed in the zinc supplemented elderly. Zinc is a molecular signal for proper function of immune cells and many gene related factors involved in the release of inflammatory cytokines are regulated by zinc.

The study is published in the August 2014 issue of the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology.