We often talk about the importance of minerals to maintaining overall health, but time and time again, the spotlight falls on magnesium and calcium. While those two nutrients are absolutely vital for strong bones, joints and muscles, there are many other minerals that sadly get sidelined. Among them? Our trusty immune-booster zinc.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays pertinent roles in skin protection, immune function, reproductive health, protein synthesis and more. Over 300 enzymes rely on zinc in order to function normally!
With summer ahead (topical zinc can help protect against sun damage!), we thought you might like to know about some of the benefits this mighty mineral brings to the table.
Zinc Deficiency May Manifest as DNA Damage
A recent study published in Nutrition Research determined that zinc supplementation may be able to protect against DNA strand breaks, which are generally caused by free radicals. Researchers followed 40 Ethiopian women with low zinc status due to decreased meat intake and high intakes of phytate, a compound that hinders zinc absorption. For 17 days, they were given either 20mg of zinc or placebo.
The zinc group experienced dramatic improvements in DNA damage. The length of comet tail strand breaks decreased from an average of 39.7 to 30.0 in the supplemented group, but not the placebo group. However, blood levels of zinc did not significantly change in either group, probably because plasma zinc only represents a very small portion of total body zinc.
The researchers concluded that zinc deficiency is a marker of increased oxidative stress, which often causes DNA damage. Thus, by supplementing the diet with zinc and observing strand length changes, individuals may be able to actually reverse DNA damage.
Zinc Absorption Declines Sharply with Age
Proper zinc utilization is no simple task. In fact, it takes an entire mob of 24 different transporters to help regulate and direct proper zinc use in the cells! As we age, some of these “players” may not work as well as others, which messes up the flow of the entire “team.” As a result, zinc doesn’t always make it to its target destination. And since our bodies don’t have a way to store zinc for later use, they require a constant stream of zinc intake.
A recent study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that as we age and our ability to use zinc declines, inflammation in the body increases. The good news? When subjects supplemented with zinc, the inflammation decreased.
To put it simpy, zinc deficiency increases with age, and our ability to fight off DNA damage declines. So make sure you get enough zinc, especially if you no longer consider yourself a spring chicken.
Antioxidants Found to Protect Sperm Count in Older Fathers
With Father’s Day just a few days off, we’ve got the guys in our lives on our minds. As we shop for dads, granddads, father figures & pops-to-be, we’re thinking about how we can help the fellas we love stay in tip-top shape.
A study published in Fertility & Sterility found that antioxidants help protect sperm counts in older men. Researchers followed 80 nonsmoking men between the ages of 22 and 80 and analyzed dietary questionnaires to determine individual intakes of beta-carotene, folate, vitamins C and E, and zinc from food and supplements.
At the end of the study, the researchers were able to forge a link between higher intakes of antioxidant nutrients (including zinc and particularly vitamin C) and less damage to sperm counts. Supplementing with these nutrients, say researchers, could help turn back the clock for older men who want to become dads.