The relevance of zinc for proper functioning of the entire immune system is already well documented. However, the identification of individuals who really need zinc supplementation is still debated in view of the fact that excessive zinc may also be toxic. The risk of developing zinc deficiency in people from industrialized countries is relatively low, except for elderly subjects where zinc intake may be suboptimal and inflammation is chronic. Thus, the role of zinc on the immune system and on the health of European elderly people is becoming of paramount importance, considering also that the elderly population is rapidly increasing. In particular, the factors contributing to and the biochemical markers of zinc deficiency in the elderly are still remain to be established. Epidemiological, functional, and genetic studies aimed at formulating a rationale for the promotion of healthy ageing through zinc supplementation was the subject of an International Conference held in Madrid from 11-13 February 2006 (3rd ZincAge Meeting) at the CNIO Institute (local organizer: Maria Blasco, partner of ZincAge).
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