Inadequate zinc levels contributed to high blood pressure (hypertension) in a new study conducted on mice.
The research demonstrated that lower-than-normal zinc levels altered the way the kidneys handle sodium.
Zinc deficiency is common in people with chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
People with low zinc levels are also at a higher risk for hypertension.
The kidneys either excrete sodium into the urine or reabsorb it into the body. This is specifically done through a pathway called the sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC).
NCC plays a critical role in blood pressure control. Less sodium in the urine typically corresponds with higher blood pressure.
Recent research has suggested that zinc may help regulate proteins that in turn regulate the NCC, but a direct link between zinc-deficiency-induced hypertension has not been examined.
For this new study researchers compared male mice with zinc deficiency to healthy control mice with normal zinc levels.
The zinc-deficient mice developed high blood pressure and a corresponding decrease in urinary sodium excretion. The control group did not experience the same changes.
A small group of the zinc-deficient mice were started on a zinc-rich diet part-way through the study. Once the animals’ zinc reached adequate levels, blood pressure began to drop and urinary sodium levels increased.
The results were reported in an article “Zinc deficiency induces hypertension by promoting renal sodium reabsorption” which was published in the American Journal of Physiology.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information zinc is a micronutrient that is essential for all living organisms; however, its deficiency is so common it is estimated to affect 25% of the world’s human population.
Zinc can be found in nuts, lentils, yogurt, hemp seeds, tofu, mushrooms and in varying amounts in most meats. In dietary supplements it can be purchased as a stand-alone ingredient or part of a multi vitamin/mineral product.
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