Zinc and selenium status in subjects over 90 years of age.




Exp Gerontol

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Selenium Zinc Aging
Professional Data: Selenium Zinc Aging


The study of advanced aging is an exciting one and vast in perspective. So many changes that occur in the individuals as they reach 80 and 90 years of age go unnoticed because of the various disease states that receive primary attention during those years. However, as our life-span increases, so does the opportunity to further explore many areas of advanced aging that may lead to a higher quality of life for those whose lives are extended to eight, nine decades and beyond. Certainly, a main focus in gerontology is nutritional status. In a study conducted in Italy, researchers investigating the nutritional status of individuals over 90 years of age focused their attention on two minerals, zinc and selenium.

Both zinc and selenium are considered to be trace minerals. Until the late 1950s, selenium was thought to be toxic. Although it can indeed be toxic at high doses, it is now recognized as an important nutritional trace mineral. Selenium plays important roles in detoxification and antioxidant defense mechanisms in the body. Zinc is necessary for the functioning of over 300 different enzymes and, as such, it plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Much attention has been placed on this mineral for its role in the immune system.

In this Italian study, researchers recruited 152 individuals who were divided into two groups based on age. Group A were aged 91 to 110, whereas group B were between 60 and 90 years of age. The study results showed that the older participants in Group A had a significantly lower zinc and selenium status than did participants in Group B. However, only slightly over 3% of those in Group A had levels low enough to be considered deficient. The authors of this study stated that this indicated that zinc and selenium would be reliable markers to use to determine micronutrient status in older individuals and may provide information regarding early disease state status.1


1. Savarino L, et al. Serum concentrations of zinc and selenium in elderly people: results in healthy nonagenarians/centenarians. Exp Gerontol. 2001 Feb;36(2):327-39.