May #23 : The Missing Zinc - by Enid Vazquez

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Table of Contents

Plastic Explosion

Who's Afraid of Reinfection?

Don't Call Him 'Poster Boy'

Saving Faces

Grandmother Theresa

Surgical Rotations

Fate Expectations

Mirror Image


Mailbox-May 1997

On Native Ground

Move Over, Elmo

Devil's in the Data

Cheesehead Shalala

Don't Cry for Me, Marijuana

The Pot Thickens

Fellatio Felon

Diver Dissed

French Roast

AZT Linked to Cancer in Mice

The Philadelphia Story

Fashion Victims

Say What

Legacy-Tom Stoddard

Skin Deep


She's Going to Live!


A Delicate Bully Pulpit

La Dolce Morte

Damned but Beautiful

Dressed for Arrest

POZ Picks-May 1997

Hymn to a Gym

Bodies of Work

Healing Beauty

Longtime Companion

For Doom, the Bell Tolls

Whatta Cut Up

Health Club Horrors


Protein Power

The Missing Zinc

Bad Blood

Lovely Labs

The Biology of Beauty

It's My Party


Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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May 1997

The Missing Zinc

by Enid Vazquez

Shoring up an essential mineral can strengthen immune function and more

Zinc is a mineral for all seasons. It helps the body build protein. Helps libido by maintaining testosterone level. Repairs taste and smell aversions that ruin appetite. Zaps zits and rashes. Teams up with vitamin A to alleviate night blindness. Most important to PWAs, it's essential for proper immune function, particularly of CD4 cells.

Research by the University of Miami has found that many people with HIV are deficient in this vital mineral (and many other nutrients)--starting early in the infection and accelerating from there. And zinc levels are lowered by both AZT use and diarrhea. Accordingly, supplementing at modest dosages appears to slow disease progression. One study found a 14-month-longer life expectancy for people with advanced AIDS taking zinc than for those in a control group. Another study found that AZT-treated participants taking zinc had far fewer opportunistic infections than those taking AZT alone.

But what about a publicized study--merely observing, not changing,  PWAs' nutrient intakes--that found faster disease progression in those taking higher levels of zinc? HIV-nutrition specialist Lark Lands, PhD, argues: "The overwhelming weight of other evidence suggests this finding may simply be a fluke." She proposes that one possible explanation could lie in the complex relationship between zinc and copper.

"Zinc taken long term without sufficient copper to balance it can result in immune dysfunction," Lands says. Most experts recommend taking zinc and copper in a ratio of 10 to 1. And since copper competes with zinc for absorption, each at a separate meal.

Some telltale signs that may signal a zinc deficiency include night blindness, recurrent rashes or acne, slow-to-heal wounds, white spots on your nails, or cracks in the skin on your fingers. But you may be deficient even without these symptoms.

The richest food source of zinc is cooked shellfish; much smaller amounts are in other fish, red meat and poultry. Food alone probably won't supply PWAs with needed amounts. So supplements--in either tablet, capsule or liquid form--are advisable. Jon Kaiser, MD, a San Francisco AIDS practitioner, recommends a daily dose of 25-75 mg, not to exceed 100 mg (higher doses may cause toxicity), taken with food. Lands says the most absorbable forms are zinc picolinate and zinc citrate. For best absorption, take zinc along with B-6 phosphate and vitamin A.

So, for your immune-boosting nutritional program, consider taking everything and the kitchen zinc.

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