A new study by researchers from the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) shows that a modest 4 milligrams of extra zinc a day in the diet can have a profound, positive impact on cellular health that helps fight infections and diseases. This amount of zinc is equivalent to what biofortified crops like zinc rice and zinc wheat can add to the diet of vulnerable, nutrient deficient populations. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was led by CHORI Senior Scientist Janet King, PhD. Dr. King and her team are the first to show that a modest increase in dietary zinc reduces oxidative stress and damage to DNA. "We were pleasantly surprised to see that just a small increase in dietary zinc can have such a significant impact on how metabolism is carried out throughout the body," says Dr. King. "These results present a new strategy for measuring the impact of zinc on health and reinforce the evidence that food-based interventions can improve micronutrient deficiencies worldwide." The open-access AJCN article is titled “A Moderate Increase in Dietary Zinc Reduces DNA Strand Breaks in Leukocytes and Alters Plasma Proteins Without Changing Plasma Zinc Concentrations.” Zinc is ubiquitous in our body and facilitates many functions that are essential for preserving life. It plays a vital role in maintaining optimal childhood growth, and in ensuring a healthy immune system. Zinc also helps limit inflammation and oxidative stress in our body, which are associated with the onset of chronic cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Around much of the world, many households eat polished white rice or highly refined wheat or maize flours, which provide energy but do not provide enough essential micronutrients such as zinc.
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