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Zinc supplementation can improve the blood serum lipid profile with the potential to reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis

January 21, 2016

A new meta-analysis and systematic review has shown that daily average zinc supplementation of 39 mg per day can be effective in lowering blood levels of the key dyslipidemia biomarkers LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. It was particularly effective in patients with existing cardiovascular disease.

Zinc (Zn) is the second most common trace mineral in the body (after iron) and is present in every living cell. Zinc is found in over 300 different enzymes and as such is an essential building block for all life. A sufficient intake of zinc is important as it supports the body in a range of key functions, including immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. European health authorities recommend zinc intakes for adults of 9.5 mg per day for males and 7 mg per day for females (2). Zinc deficiency affects around one third of the global population, mainly in developing countries.

Zinc deficiency will negatively impact both fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism, both of which are important for good cardiovascular health. It will also render vascular epithelial cells more liable to the effects of oxidative stress (3). It has been hypothesized that zinc could have a positive effect on blood serum levels, but a meta-analysis covering studies up to 2008 failed to uncover any association (4). However, a new meta-analysis and systematic review (1) has been carried out because of a series of positive studies that were made after 2008. After the usual screening process, 32 studies were included, involving a total of 14,515 participants.

The study (1) found that zinc supplementation (an average of 39.3 mg/d) achieved a significant reduction in LDLcholesterol (–4.78 mg/dl), total cholesterol (–10.72 mg/dl) and triglycerides (–8.73 mg/dl). It was particularly effective in participants with existing heart disease, where it additionally increased HDL  cholesterol levels. In summary, this study provides evidence that zinc supplementation could be a useful participant in the treatment of dyslipidemia, particularly where the patient already has cardiovascular disease.

References

  1. Ranasinghe P., Wathurapatha W.S., Ishara M.H., Jayawardana R., Galappatthy P., Katulanda P., & Constantine G.R.; “Effects of Zinc supplementation on serum lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis”; Nutrition & Metabolism 2015; 12(1): 26. doi.org/10.1186/s12986-015-0023-4
  2. NUTRI-FACTS (accessed 14.1.2016): www.nutri-facts.org/en_US/trace-elements/zinc
  3. Beattie J.H. & Kwun I.S.; “Is zinc deficiency a risk factor for atherosclerosis?”; Br J Nutr 2004; 91: 177–81.
  4. Foster M., Petocz P. & Samman S.; “Effects of zinc on plasma lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations in humans: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials”; Atherosclerosis 2010; 210(2): 344–52.