Increased intakes of zinc may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes by 28%, according to a US study.
The study involved 82,297 women aged between 33 and 60 taking part in the Nurses' Health Study. Over the course of 24 years, 6,030 cases of type 2 diabetes were documented. After relating the incidence of the disease with data obtained from a validated food frequency questionnaire, the researchers noted that women with the highest average dietary intakes of the mineral were 10% less likely to develop diabetes, while women with the highest average total intakes had their risk reduced by 8%.
Further analysis by the researchers took into account other potentially confounding factors, and showed that increased intakes of zinc were associated with a reduction up to 28%. The mechanism behind the effects is not known. Also, the research does not prove causality.
Thus, the researchers warned that more studies are needed to confirm these finding before any firm conclusions can be drawn. Zinc, one of the most plentiful trace elements in the body second only to iron, mediates many physiological functions. It is believed to be essential for maintaining a healthy immune system; recent science suggests the mineral could also influence memory, muscle strength and endurance in adults. Zinc nutrition in very young children has been related to motor, cognitive and psychosocial function. (1)