Many of you have heard me bemoan the fact that we hear plenty about the importance of calcium yet hardly anything about the need for vital magnesium and zinc. I noticed this study this morning which, although done on animals and extrapolated to humans, suggests two things:
1. We absorb less zinc as we get older and
2. The mechanism whereby zinc is linked to so many illnesses, especially ageing ones, is likely to do with inflammation. Less zinc simply means more inflammatory response in the body and since many experts are now classifying most human diseases like heart disease, diabetes etc as inflammatory conditions, this is a really important bit of knowledge.
The study suggests that the recommended amount of zinc advised as we age should be reviewed in the light of this finding and I would agree with that. The majority of people have a zinc deficiency I would imagine, even at current RDA standards. Check your fingernails for white spots for a start. Have you lost your sense of taste or smell? Is your skin saggy and getting stretchmarks easily? Do you keep getting infections and not being able to fight them off? Those are just a few signs to look out for.
Teenagers Need Zinc Especially
Teenagers after a growth spurt are particularly vulnerable when zinc is needed in shed-loads for growth hormone etc. Without being too indelicate either, boys becoming sexually active (on their own, if you see what I mean) are especially vulnerable since ejaculate contains a goodly amount of sperm that is then lost to the body. That’s why you often see an illness/behavioural problem/poor immunity/fatigue etc kick off just after puberty. One of the first questions I ask of parents calling me about their teens’ health problems is how tall are they and have they just had a growth spurt. Useful to know.
So, how much zinc do you need?
Generally, for health, I would normally advise about 15-25mg zinc of one of the better forms eg Nutrigold’s Zinc Citrizorb and if taking it for longer than a couple of months, to take a balanced copper and zinc like Higher Nature’s Zinc and Copper. Or make sure there is a useful amount of the right forms in your multi. It’s always best to take a multi rather than just taking a separate mineral; they all work synergistically.
Zinc for Colds
Don’t forget too, as we enter the cold season, the importance of boosting zinc and Vitamin C to prevent and shorten your colds. See here for more help on this.
Since I wrote that piece, I have been recommending zinc and Vitamin C combined with Black Elderberry as in Elderberry Complex which also contains the immune supportive beta glucans. They also do a Junior version. Very useful to have in your cupboard at this time of year. In fact, I give P these lozenges too since, as he uses his voice for work, it is imperative he keeps it!
- Zinc deficiency mechanism linked to aging, multiple diseases (sciencedaily.com)