Its difficult to test for, but new research suggests that zinc deficiencies are widespread across the world, with as many as 12 percent of the total U.S. population and an estimated 40 percent of elderly Americans affected by it.
A new study conducted at Oregon State University finds that even minor zinc deficiencies can cause DNA damage.
“Zinc deficiencies have been somewhat under the radar because we just dont know that much about mechanisms that control its absorption, role or even how to test for it in people with any accuracy,” said Emily Ho, a researcher at OSU.
Adequate zinc intake is essential for fighting off infectious disease, boosting immune function, repairing DNA damage and fighting cancer.
Zinc is naturally found in proteins like beef and poultry, and in even higher levels in shellfish like oysters. Its available in plants but poorly absorbed from them, raising additional concerns for vegetarians.
Inadequate zinc intake is so prevalent in the elderly that Ho suggests they consider nutritional supplements to ensure adequate levels.