Zinc Is A Star

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Zinc is a trace element your body uses and its importance is generally not discussed or underscored unlike most other popular minerals. You cut yourself or you injure yourself, zinc comes to your rescue by boosting the immune system and accelerating healing. Some researchers feel that zinc is ranked with vitamin C for its therapeutic importance.

Zinc is an element for the reproductive systems, boosts liver function and enhances your sense of smell and taste. Oysters are being considered popularly as an aphrodisiac, due to the high concentrations of zinc. All sea foods have high concentrations of zinc. So a glass of red wine and sea food meal are prerequisite for an enjoyable pleasurable evening. So, zinc is considered as a mineral for all forms of life, human beings included.

Every cell in our body has this trace element for its function, and high levels are found in the prostate glands required for its development and functions.

Treatment of common cold
Zinc can shorten the duration of a seasonal cold.Cochrane Reviews – the gold standard of assessing the cred of health care research – has concluded that taking zinc supplements at the first sign of a sniffle (within 24 hours), can reduce a cold's duration by about a day.

Zinc seems to prevent replication of the cold virus and secondly, boosts the immune system.Zinc is available over the counter as zinc ascorbate, zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate and zinc oxide and all have similar benefits. They are available as tablets, liquids, nasal sprays and sucking lozenges.

Too much of zinc taken by mouth can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients like copper and iron.

Copper is necessary for hemoglobin formation in red blood cells, enzymes and collagen (connective tissue). Dietary allowance for zinc is 18mg per day. Phytates present in whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes and other foods-bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Thus, the bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal foods, although many grain- and plant-based foods are still good sources of zinc Vegans seems to be zinc deficient than carnivores. The zinc deficiency would result in changes in taste and smell or a loss of appetite and retarded sexual maturation.

Vegetarians need to take as much as 50% more zinc than non-vegetarians. They may need to take less certain foods that reduce the binding of zinc by phytate, and take more soaking beans, grain, and seeds in water for several hours before cooking them and allowing them to sit after soaking until sprouts form. Zinc is stored in liver, kidney, pancreas and the brain, and not lost through blood, urine or feces. Birth control pill can lower blood levels of zinc and calcium.

Zinc in high doses could be toxic. One tablet a day is sufficient. Zinc supplementation is not advised to children, but Cochrane review in Australia found that zinc supplementation for school going children who suffer recurring colds have reduced the incidence of absenteeism from school.

Healthy skin
Zinc also helps to maintain a healthy skin. Zinc seems to be effective for helping to treat acne, pimples, eczema and diminish pigmentation. Zinc also helps growth of hair roots in male type of balding, provided the roots are not destroyed.

Prostate Health
Zinc seems to be important to maintain healthy prostate. Some reports indicate that taking zinc medication for adults can cut down the incidence of prostate cancer.
Older adults zinc deficiency

It is observed that adults over 60 years or older had zinc intakes below estimated average requirement of 6.8 mg/day for elderly females and 9.4 mg/day for elderly males. Zinc supplementation is required among the elderly.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD)
Researchers have suggested that both zinc and antioxidants delay the progression of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and vision loss, possibly by preventing cellular damage in the retina. In a population-based cohort study in the Netherlands, high dietary intake of zinc as well as beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E was associated with reduced risk of AMD in elderly subjects. However, the authors of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2007 concluded that zinc is not effective for the primary prevention of early AMD, although zinc might reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD.

GI disorders
Gastrointestinal surgery and digestive disorders (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and short bowel syndrome) can decrease zinc absorption and increase endogenous zinc losses primarily from the gastrointestinal tract and, to a lesser extent, from the kidney. Other diseases associated with zinc deficiency include malabsorption syndrome, chronic liver disease, chronic renal disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, malignancy, and other chronic illnesses. Chronic diarrhea also leads to excessive loss of zinc.

Foods containing zinc per serving in mg
Oysters, 6 medium 76.7
Beef shanks, cooked, 3 ounces 8.9
Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 3 ounces 6.5
Pork shoulder, cooked, 3 ounces 4.2
Chicken leg, roasted, 1 leg 2.7
Chicken breast, roasted, ½ breast
with skin removed 0.9
Baked beans, canned, ½ cup 1.7
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 1.6
Chickpeas, ½ cup 1.3
Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup 0.8
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 1 cup 1.6
Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces 2.5
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 1.0
Peas, boiled, ½ cup 0.8
Milk, 1 cup

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