A recent study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that zinc deficiency develops with age, which could lead to a host of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, and diabetes. The elderly population is particularly at risk, with an estimated 40 percent of American seniors having zinc deficiency.

The study discovered that old laboratory animals had signs of zinc deficiency—despite the animals’ diet showing adequate zinc intake. This is because in the older animals, zinc transporters were dysregulated. They could not absorb the mineral as well as younger animals. In fact, the older animals ultimately needed 10 times more zinc just to match the levels of the younger animals!

Added to the fact that many seniors don’t consume enough dietary zinc anyway, this presents quite a challenge. Although some inflammation is to be expected in the elderly for things like wound healing and immunity, excessive inflammation is not only atypical, but also dangerous. Zinc is a key protector from oxidative stress and DNA damage. Yet, with compromised zinc levels, older people’s bodies become unable to repair DNA damage, even as the amount of damage multiplies.

The elderly population is particularly at risk for zinc deficiency

The elderly population is particularly at risk for zinc deficiency

Despite these concerns, zinc deficiency tests are rare and often inaccurate. Particularly for the elderly, specialists suggest that the best way to ensure proper zinc intake is through supplementation. While amounts of elemental zinc over 40 mg/day should be avoided, at least the full recommended daily allowance of zinc should be consumed. For adult males, this is 11 mg/day, and for females, it is 8 mg/day. (Zinc deficiency mechanism).

It is worth noting, though, that all zinc supplements are not created equal, so even with these RDAs, there is a chance of zinc still being unabsorbed. The first and toughest barrier to zinc absorption is getting through the intestinal wall. Intestinal walls carry a negative charge. Zinc that has gone through the digestion process ends up with a positive charge. Like a magnet, the intestinal wall hangs on to the mineral and doesn’t let it pass through into the body. This is where the chelation process comes in.

In chelation, the mineral is “cloaked” by another molecule, disguising the positive charge, and allowing the zinc to pass through. Chelation is a process that originates in the body, primarily in the form of picolinic acid. Picolinic acid comes from tryptophan (which is located in the liver and kidneys) and is sent to the pancreas. During digestion, this picolinic acid travels from the pancreas to the intestine.

Research from the USDA Human Nutrition Laboratory in Grand Forks, North Dakota, has found that because picolinates are part of the body’s natural chelation process, they are more readily recognized and used by the cells. This is not the case with non-picolinate minerals. The research group found that adding five milligrams of zinc picolinate to the diet alleviated acrodermatitis enteropathica symptoms, (a rare genetic disorder characterised by diarrhoea, an inflammatory rash around the mouth and/or anus, and hair loss), while 60 milligrams per day of zinc sulfate did not. Another group of researchers from Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle, Washington, conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over clinical trial that compared zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate absorption. Zinc picolinate showed the best absorption, and therefore, the most improvement. Some have suggested that because zinc picolinate is so well absorbed, the necessary dosage may only be one third of what would be needed with other supplements. (http://customers.hbci.com/~wenonah/hydro/picolina.htm)

At the least older adults should be getting a baseline level of zinc through supplementation at a minimum of 10 mg elemental zinc per day; this would translate into 50 mg zinc picolinate, as the remaining 40 mg is derived from picolinic acid, one per day and taken with food.

Life Choice® Zinc Picolinate can be counted on for highest purity, maximum absorption, and best efficacy.

Eldon Dahl, Doctorate in natural medicine, Founder and CEO of Life Choice Ltd, Est. 1986 www.lifechoice.net

Learn more with Dr. Dahl on his blog:  https://lifechoice.net/blog/ 

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