Zinc Deficiency May Contribute to Inflammation, Chronic Disease
Studies have shown that older people tend to eat fewer zinc-rich foods and that their bodies do not absorb zinc as well, leaving them at greater risk for zinc deficiency. A recent study suggests that zinc deficiency may result in higher levels of chronic inflammation and immune dysfunction.
For this study, the researchers examined zinc levels in the cells of older humans as well as old and young mice. In the mice, they found that low zinc levels corresponded with higher chronic inflammation and lower levels of IL-6 methylation. IL-6 methylation is what cells use to control gene expression.
In the human trial, the researchers also found lower IL-6 methylation in the older group when compared with the younger group.
The researchers concluded from the results of these two studies that zinc deficiency may be linked with increased chronic inflammation as we age. Chronic inflammation is believed to play a role in a number of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, gum disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Researchers from Oregon State University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 17 in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Zinc is an essential mineral that has been linked to maintaining a healthy immune system, healing wounds, helping with growth, supporting the reproductive system, and better eye health.
The human body cannot make zinc, so it’s important to get it from food and supplement sources. Zinc can be found in many foods, including oysters, beef, crab, fortified cereals, lobster, beans, yogurt, nuts, milk, chicken, cheese, and oatmeal. You can also consume zinc in a supplement form, but be careful not to take too much. Intakes of greater than 150 mg per day have been associated with negative side effects, such as a weakened immune system.