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Although the debate regarding the effectiveness of zinc has been going on for decades, a recent study conducted in the US shows that zinc is indeed beneficial to the body and maybe even the boss! Yes, that’s right. The boss.

Zinc is being touted as the boss’s best friend because it effectively reduces the number of work days lost to common colds and sniffles. In fact, zinc (which is found in dairy products, legumes, meat, nuts, seafood and whole grains) has been proven to shorten the duration of the common cold.

Zinc has several other benefits, which include:

1. Promoting growth and healing, especially in children.

2. Repairing and ensuring the optimal functions of DNA.

3. Preventing lower respiratory infections and recurrent ear infections.

4. Inhibiting macular degeneration, night blindness and treating cataracts.

5. Strengthening weak bones (osteoporosis) and preventing rheumatoid arthritis and muscle cramps.

6. Treating a raft of medical conditions including sickle cell disease, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), erectile dysfunction (ED), male infertility and Wilson’s disease.

7. Helping cure skin conditions including acne, eczema, herpes simplex infections and psoriasis as well as preventing wrinkles.

People whose intake of zinc is lower than the prescribed daily requirement of 15 to 50 milligrammes are termed ‘zinc deficient’, a condition that has many symptoms. These include slowed growth, low insulin levels, loss of appetite, irritability, hair loss, rough and dry skin, slow wound healing and a poor sense of taste and smell.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, consult a doctor, but do not take a zinc supplement before you do so, because overdosing on zinc can cause side effects, including loss of iron and copper from the body, lowered LDL(good) cholesterol, coughing, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, pain, fatigue, fever and kidney problems.

– Dr Samia Khan
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 25, 2012.

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