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#Allergy and Immunology
An article published in Age stated that diet in the elderly does not provide a sufficient level of nutrients needed to maintain an adequate health status, leading to micronutrient deficiencies and impaired immune response with subsequent development of degenerative diseases.
Zinc is a key micronutrient contributing to the maintenance of a good integrity of several body homeostatic mechanisms, including immune efficiency, on account of its requirement for the biological activity of many enzymes, proteins and for cellular proliferation and genomic stability. The authors reported that individuals aged 60-65 years and older have zinc intakes below 50% of the recommended daily allowance on any given day. Many causes can be instrumental in this low intake – such as, altered intestinal absorption, inadequate mastication, psychosocial factors, drugs interactions and altered subcellular processes like zinc transporters, metallothioneins and divalent metal transporter-1.
This article inferred that zinc supplementation may remodel the immune alterations in elderly leading to healthy ageing. Several zinc trials have been conducted with contradictory data, possibly due to incorrect choice of an effective zinc supplementation in old individuals. Older individuals with specific IL-6 polymorphism (GG allele carriers; named C-) are more prone for zinc supplementation compared to the entire old population, in whom correct dietary habits with foods containing zinc (Mediterranean diet) may suffice to restore zinc levels and correct the impaired immune response.
Source: Mocchegiani E, Romeo J, Malavolta M, et al. Zinc: dietary intake and impact of supplementation on immune function in elderly. Age (Dordr). 2013 Jun;35(3):839-60.