Although quite the micronutrient underdog, zinc is in fact a powerful antioxidant and is directly influential to cell renewal and division. This micronutrient is so important that even the slightest deficiency may result in illness, especially in older adults.

A new study posted on ScienceDaily.com says that it is important for older adults to regularly include zinc in their diets and that the body’s ability to absorb it declines with age. Working with both elderly humans and animals, researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences found that the elderly aren't only zinc-deficient, but they also don't absorb it properly as well. This leads to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, and diabetes.

As zinc plays a very important part in keeping illnesses at bay, it’s recommended that older adults take dietary supplements that contain zinc, with 11 milligrams a day for men and eight milligrams a day for women. Zinc may also be found in seafood, meat, and even chocolates, so sources are hardly lacking. Although it’s important for older adults to have this micronutrient in their systems, no more than 40 milligrams a day should be consumed, as it may disrupt the absorption of other important nutrients. Remember, the key to staying healthy is a good dietary balance.

(Photo by Fechi Fajardo via Flickr Creative Commons)

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