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Zinc Overview

Zinc is an essential trace mineral necessary for the proper function of about 300 different enzymes. Therefore, zinc plays a role in virtually all biochemical pathways and physiological processes in the body. Thirty percent of the body’s zinc is stored in the bones and 60% in muscles. The other 10% is found in virtually all body tissues. Zinc is important for wound healing; immune system support; to reduce length and severity of colds (in lozenge form); to support a healthy prostate gland (prevents benign prostatic hyperplasia – BPH); and to increase fertility (sperm production). It also assists digestion, energy production, growth, cellular repair, collagen synthesis, bone strength, cognitive function, and carbohydrate metabolism (glucose utilization and insulin production). Even mild zinc deficiency has been associated with depressed immunity, decreased sperm count and impaired memory.

Dietary Sources: The richest dietary sources of zinc are seafood (especially oysters), meat, fish, eggs, and poultry.

Dosage: The RDA for zinc is 15mg per day. As therapy for colds, however, higher levels are required – with levels in the range of 13-23mg (in lozenge form) taken every 2 hours for no more than 2 weeks effective for reducing duration and severity of cold symptoms.

Side Effects: The short-term use of zinc at therapeutic doses for cold relief (see below) is assumed to safe and chronic supplementation with zinc at levels 2-3 times the current RDA should not be expected to pose any significant adverse side effects. However, high doses of zinc are not recommended for periods of more than two weeks due to interference with copper absorption. High doses of zinc (gram levels) can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.


Research Overview

Deficiency in zinc has been shown to contribute to:
1. Hypogonadism
2. Testicular dysfunction
3. Atrophy of testes
4. Decreased sperm motility
5. Decreased sperm count
6. Sperm cell death
7. Unwanted weight loss
8. Impaired taste functioning
9. Poor appetite
10. Dermatitis
11. Acrodermatitis enteropathica
12. Alopecia
13. Night blindness
14. Delayed wound healing
15. Diarrhea
16. Delays in cognitive development
17. Impaired memory
18. Impaired capacity to learn
19. Decreased activity levels
20. Decreased attention performance
21. Increased susceptibility to infectious diseases
22. Juvenile and adolescent growth delays
23. Delayed puberty
24. Stunted brain and body growth
25. Stunted organ growth
26. Tinnitus
27. Dwarfism
28. Bone mineral loss and osteoporosis
29. Impaired immune functioning
30. Impaired platelet aggregation
31. Reduction in natural killer cell activity
32. Impaired female reproductive processes
33. Decreased growth hormone production
34. Higher risk of esophageal cancer
35. Adverse lymphocyte production and maturity
36. Insulin resistance
37. Weakened thyroid hormone metabolism
38. Atrophy of thyroid gland
39. Decreased basal metabolic rates
40. Potentially increase neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s and Down’s Syndrome

Zinc supplementation was found to:
1. Enhance efficacy of interferon therapy in Hepatitis C
2. Improve bacterial prostatitis
3. Prevent hepatic encephalopathy
4. Prevent alcohol induced liver damage
5. Prevent esophageal cancer
6. Improve night vision
7. Work synergistically with vitamin A
8. Improve halitosis
9. Reduce plaque buildup in teeth
10. Reduce duration and severity of the common cold
11. Reduce incidence of pneumonia when taken with vitamin A
12. Reduce severity and duration of chronic diarrhea
13. Prevents damage from mercury exposure
14. Reduce anxiety and depression
15. Increase weight gain in anorexia nervosa
16. Increase weight gain and growth in children with sickle cell disease
17. Improve thyroid function
18. Enhance efficacy of thyroid hormone supplementation
19. Improve immune function
20. Decrease oxidative stress
21. Enhance efficacy of tuberculosis treatment when combined with vitamin A
22. Decrease blood glucose levels
23. Inhibit the development of Type I diabetes
24. Improve libido
25. Increase sperm count
26. Increase frequency of sexual intercourse
27. Treat delayed adolescent sexual development
28. Treat hypogonadism
29. Treat recurrent aphthous stomatitis
30. Improve tinnitus
31. Treat Alzheimer’s disease
32. Act as a topical antioxidant
33. Improve neurological recover in brain injury
34. Protect cells from drug toxicity (AZT)
35. Reduce incidence of infection in AIDS
36. Treat dandruff
37. Potentially reduce incidence and severity of fetal alcohol syndrome
38. Improve liver function in alcoholic cirrhosis
39. Reduce inflammation and promotes stomach ulcer healing
40. Improve wound healing
41. Reduce bone loss in osteoporosis

Zinc Abstracts (91)

Zinc Citations (1000)