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The missing zinc: Put it in your diet

You may not be getting enough of an important nutrient that can help fend off cancer and heart disease.

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon found that as many as 40 percent of older Americans have a zinc deficiency. The reason is twofold: Many don't eat enough foods high in zinc, and the older we get, the harder it is for the body to absorb the mineral.

For those 65 and older, researchers recommend 11 milligrams a day for men and 8 milligrams for women. Zinc is found copiously in oysters (a whopping 74 milligrams per 3-ounce serving) and in beef (5-7 milligrams per 3-ounce serving), among other foods. Most daily vitamin and mineral supplements contain the recommended amounts of zinc. But don't overdo the pills or the oysters: Getting more than 40 milligrams of zinc every day can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.

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