Zinc Can Help Prevent Pneumonia In Over Sixties

August 31, 2010

Zinc is certainly an essential ingredient in your diet for fighting infection and something that I supplement with every winter to keep colds at bay and now my anecdotal experience has been medically validated.

That is probably a first, but a new report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that zinc plays a very important role in health maintenance, particularly for the over 60s. Simin Nikbin Meydani, DVM, PhD of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Massachusetts studied over 600 people from 33 different nursing homes in the Boston area.

What they found was that those with healthy blood levels of zinc are 50 percent less likely to develop pneumonia than those with sub-par levels. The study was a follow-up to a previous one which found that people given 200 international units (IU) of vitamin E every day for one year are 20 percent less likely to develop upper respiratory infections, including common colds. But after a follow-up, the trial also revealed that a majority of those same participants had low levels of zinc in their blood. As we saw in the previous item, zinc is a necessary mineral for maintaining immune health, regulation of blood pressure and the mineralization of bone and as well as being essential For the eyes and prostate.

The study’s conclusion is that daily zinc intake can help nursing home residents who are susceptible to pneumonia as it can reduce the risk of developing pneumonia by about 50%. Plus – bearing in mind the previous item – not only did those participants have a higher risk of developing pneumonia when they did become sick, they did not recover as quickly and required a longer course of antibiotics.

Another factor to bear in mind is that they also found that those who were taking regular zinc supplements also had a 39% lower rate of deaths from all causes than a comparable group who were not taking supplements.

Food sources:

Best sources of zinc are the protein foods including beef, lamb, pork, crabmeat, turkey, chicken, lobster, oysters, clams and salmon. Other good sources are dairy products, yeast, peanuts, beans, and wholegrain cereals, brown rice, whole wheat bread, potato and yogurt. For vegetarians and vegans pumpkin seeds offer one of the most concentrated non-meat food sources of zinc.

If you have a good and varied diet then your body getting enough zinc, the RDA for adults is around 11 mg a day, but the actual amount your body can absorb may be as little as 15 to 40% but you can improve this if you are taking Vitamins C, E and B6 and minerals such as magnesium as they can increase zinc absorption in the body.


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