Zinc deficiency is common in people with chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, and so is high blood pressure – now let’s talk about the link.
Published in the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology, lower-than-normal zinc levels may contribute to high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, by altering the way the kidneys handle sodium.
So, what do you know about zinc deficiency?
Lack of zinc in the human body is common in individuals with chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, moreover, those with zinc deficiency are also at a higher risk for hypertension.
The way in which the kidneys either excrete sodium into the urine or reabsorb it into the body, specifically through a pathway known as the sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC), also plays a role in blood pressure control.
Less sodium in the urine characteristically corresponds with higher blood pressure.
Although recent research has suggested that zinc may help regulate proteins that in turn regulate the NCC, a direct link between zinc-deficiency-induced hypertension has not yet been examined.
Details of the study
The researchers compared male mice with zinc deficiency to healthy controls with normal zinc levels.
The zinc-deficient mice developed high blood pressure and a corresponding reduction in urinary sodium excretion. Whereas the control group did not experience the same changes.
A small group of the zinc-deficient mice were fed a zinc-rich diet partway through the study. Once the animals’ zinc reached adequate levels, the blood pressure began to drop, and urinary sodium levels increased.
The research team explained: “These significant findings demonstrate that enhanced renal [sodium] re-absorption plays a critical role in [zinc-deficiency]-induced hypertension.”
“Understanding the specific mechanisms by which [zinc deficiency] contributes to [blood pressure] dysregulation may have an important effect on the treatment of hypertension in chronic disease settings.”