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Blood samples showed that levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a marker for inflammation, and oxidative stress markers were also reduced in the zinc-supplemented subjects.
"After zinc supplementation, the incidence of infections was significantly lower, plasma zinc was significantly higher, and generation of tumour necrosis factor-alpha and oxidative stress markers was significantly lower in the zinc-supplemented than in the placebo group," concluded the researchers in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
A report published this week by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) highlighted the need for action in addressing nutrition in the elderly.
Report author Professor David Richardson told NutraIngredients.com that as people age their energy intake declines, making it much more difficult to ensure the micronutrient intake of diet as a whole. Such a deficit in micronutrient intake offers an opportunity for food supplements, he said.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2007, Volume 85, Number 3, Pages 837-844 "Zinc supplementation decreases incidence of infections in the elderly: effect of zinc on generation of cytokines and oxidative stress" Authors: A.S. Prasad, F.W.J. Beck, B. Bao, J.T. Fitzgerald, D.C. Snell, J.D. Steinberg and L.J. Cardozo