(Health Secrets) Most of us are familiar with the use of zinc as an aid in combating the common cold and sore throat. However, many of us are unaware of just how vital zinc is in maintaining overall good health. Zinc is one of the essential trace elements found in every cell in our bodies. While studies have indicated that about 12% of Americans are deficient in zinc, the ability to absorb zinc declines with age and it is estimated that this percentage increases to 45% in older Americans.
Zinc performs a variety of important functions. It can strengthen the immune system, protect cell membranes against free radicals, prevent cell structural damage and repair damaged DNA. Zinc is instrumental in healing wounds, supports the stabilization of blood glucose, supports neurological function, maintains the senses of taste and smell, and stimulates activity in approximately 100 different enzymes.
Zinc supports normal growth during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence, and helps to protect against macular degeneration, a cause of blindness in adults over the age of 60. Zinc can even help boost libido. Zinc may also be effective in treating such conditions as acne, eczema and anorexia nervosa, and it facilitates healing after the trauma of surgery.
Zinc deficiency can lead to numerous health conditions, a very common one being prostate disorders which can lead to prostate cancer. Because zinc affects the immune system, a deficiency can present itself in frequent colds, flu, and other infections. In children, a zinc deficiency can manifest itself in growth retardation.
In addition to aging and poor dietary habits, digestive disorders such as irritable bowel disease and Crohn’s Disease can be contributing factors in the depletion of zinc from our bodies. A deficiency of zinc can also be caused by certain medications. Among the offenders are diuretics and medications used in controlling blood pressure. Acid-suppressing medications also play an important role. Alcoholics have a higher risk of being zinc deficient, and others at risk include women taking birth control pills and those on hormone substitution drug therapy.
Zinc deficiency symptoms can present themselves as:
* Chronic diarrhea
* Night blindness
* Loss of appetite
* Decline in libido
* Hair loss
* Eye and skin lesions
There are several good dietary sources of zinc. Some of the best sources are:
* Nuts, such as cashews, almonds, peanuts
* Crimini mushrooms
* Pumpkin seeds
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. However, those that are zinc deficient, not eating a diet rich in zinc, or have a prostate disorder should take 15 mg of zinc daily. Because of the lower absorption of zinc from plants, vegetarians may need about 50% more zinc. Zinc lozenges provide a special blend of fully absorbable zinc and synergistic nutrients for maximum immune support to people of all ages.