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Study shows zinc helps build strong bones

By Andy Fell on October 4, 1996 in

Foods rich in zinc, eaten during the crucial teen-age years, may bekey to protecting women's bones from osteoporosis later in life, says a new research report in last month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Based on noninvasive imaging studies of primates, the findings have implications for teen-age girls' diets, says Mari Golub, adjunct professor of internal medicine at UC Davis. Golub and seven colleagues report that moderate zinc deficiencies during the growth spurts of 10 female rhesus monkeys resulted in slower skeletal growth and less bone density immediately after puberty, as well as a delay in some indicators of sexual maturity, compared to 10 control monkeys. Bone density was affected despite an equivalent amount of food eaten and before the reduced zinc levels could be detected in blood samples. Bone density measurements were taken with a bone scan method used to diagnose women with osteoporosis. "Peak bone mass is attained by women during adolescence, and increase in bone density during this time can be directly related to the occurrence of osteoporosis later in life," says Golub. Zinc is a trace mineral needed for growth, wound healing, healthy skin, immunity and as a helper to certain enzymes in the body. Rich sources of zinc include shellfish, meat, eggs, nuts, milk, peanut butter and whole grains.

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Andy Fell, Research news (emphasis: biological and physical sciences, and engineering), 530-752-4533,