Getting pneumonia is not simply a case
of having the bad luck of running into the wrong kind of
bacteria. You can take simple steps to prevent it.
One of the keys is getting enough of a
specific mineral you may be lacking. For example, the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just
revealed a strong link between zinc and pneumonia in
found that people with normal zinc levels had much lower
rates of pneumonia.
Those with healthy zinc levels were
also less likely to need new antibiotic prescriptions to
treat pneumonia. And those who did decide to take
antibiotics went off them twice as fast as the low-zinc
group. And they beat pneumonia almost twice as fast
This is great news, since pneumonia is
one of top ten causes of death for older folks. But
that's not all: the study also found that death rates
overall were significantly lower among people with
healthy zinc levels, regardless of whether or not they
Zinc is a vital nutrient. Most people
don't know it - including a surprising number of doctors
- but in addition to getting sick more often, zinc
deficiency stunts growth and lengthens the amount of
time your body needs to heal from cuts, bruises, and
Zinc is also a heart-health booster.
In one key study of dietary zinc in 3,500 people in
India, those who got less than 7 mgs per day were more
likely to suffer from heart disease.2
They had higher rates of high blood pressure,
high triglyceride levels (the "bad" fat that leads to
blocked arteries), and low HDL cholesterol (the "good"
kind) - all factors that put you on the fast track to a
The same study found lower rates of
diabetes in the zinc-healthy group. And that's the third
major reason: zinc plays a key role in helping your
pancreas regulate how much insulin it makes and releases
into your bloodstream. It also gives your body a hand in
absorbing and converting sugar into energy. When your
body can't do either very well, you've got diabetes.
Finally, zinc's a proven cancer
fighter, particularly for men. In fact, it's critical to
prostate health: of all the organs in the body, the
prostate gland contains the highest concentration of
When you consider that heart disease,
cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory illness are
among the leading causes of death in any given year
worldwide, you can see how important zinc really
is. And, it's not only great for folks over 50, but
it's great for any age.
Good sources of zinc are:
- Lean meats
- Seafood (especially oysters)
Of course, always go for free-range,
wild-caught, hormone-free, and organic if you can.
You can also find zinc supplements
on-line or in health food stores. I recommend 30 mg per
day to get the maximum benefit.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1 Meydani et al, "Serum zinc and
pneumonia in nursing home elderly," American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition, 2007; 86(4):1167-73.
2 Singh et al, "Current zinc intake and risk of diabetes
and coronary artery disease and factors associated with
insulin resistance in rural and urban populations of
north India," Journal of the American College of