Fewer infections when older folks take zinc supplements

As we age, zinc deficiency combined with impaired immunity increase our susceptibility to infection.

Now, a study hows that zinc supplementation raises zinc blood levels, and lowers circulating proteins that increase the risk of infection. Most importantly, it also lowered the rate of infection in the elderly.

50 healthy adults (55-87 years old) were recruited from a senior center. Over the next 12 months, one group received a capsule of zinc gluconate (15 mg of elemental zinc) 1 hour before breakfast and 2 capsules before bedtime. The rest received a placebo.

Compared with another group of younger adults, the study participants had significantly lower blood zinc levels at the start of the study.

And the results.

After one year, the group treated with zinc had higher blood levels of zinc and a lower incidence of infection. They also had lower tumor necrosis factor alpha and plasma oxidative stress marker levels compared to the placebo group.

The bottom line?
Many older people do not show the typical early signs of infection. They might have non-specific clinical symptoms and show confusion, which makes an accurate diagnosis difficult and may lead to a life-threatening delay of diagnosis and therapy. All this supports taking zinc supplements each day.

3/16/07 19:10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.