Sunday, June 19, 2011

Placebo double blind trial: Zinc supplements are beneficial for the elderly.

An excellent placebo double blind trial, which is the best you can do, was undertaken in elderly population. Now elderly in this case was 56 years old - 80 years old. Which in my mind 56, isn't that old. Very importantly they were healthy elderly. That is they were not sick. This means that they had no obvious signs of zinc deficiency, nor any mineral/vitamin deficiency. They were not looking to make unhealthy people well, but look at difference it make to antioxidant markers in so called healthy individuals.

Secondly they used a high daily dose of zinc, 45 mg. To put that is perspective the RDI, depending on country is about the 15 mg level. So this is 3x the RDI of zinc.

Thirdly they supplemented for 6 months. This means that the bodies stores had time to stabilize and the body had a chance to rebuild/repair or overcome any issues that lack of zinc might have caused.

Thus they were focusing on maximizing any effect. This is a great study as often supplement trials aren't double blind placebo, don't focus on already healthy, don't supplement high enough levels and have a very short time frame. Hence the results for supplementation can be variable.

What did they find a reduction in the markers for oxidative stress and inflammation across a whole range of  markers, proteins, cells etc. For those who like the jargon the reduction was across:
  • High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)
  • Iinterleukin (IL)-6, 
  • Macrophage chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1)
  • Vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1)
  • Secretory phospholipase A2
  • Malondialdehyde and hydroxyalkenals (MDA+HAE)
And for the record I can't tell you off the top of my head what these are all are/mean/do. However rest assured with the conclusion of the study was:
These findings suggest that zinc may have a protective effect in atherosclerosis because of its antiinflammatory and antioxidant functions

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