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New research suggests that we have an increased need for zinc to help protect against DNA damage and inflammation as we get older. The animal studies performed at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences showed that age-related zinc deficiencies can lead to immune system decline and contribute to the inflammation that underlies cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and diabetes.
The researchers noted that the ability to absorb zinc declines with age and that about 40 percent of seniors in the U.S. (and as many as two billion people world-wide) are zinc deficient. They observed signs of zinc deficiency in conjunction with an increased inflammatory response in old animals, even though the creatures’ diet presumably provided adequate amounts of zinc. After the animals were given about 10 times their dietary zinc intake, biomarkers of inflammation were restored to levels seen in young animals. The RDA for zinc is 11 milligrams a day for men and 8 milligrams for women.