Zinc deficiency and high blood pressure.

Zinc deficiency is common in people with chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, while low zinc levels also put us at a higher risk for hypertension. Now research using mice suggests lower-than-normal zinc levels may even contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension) by altering the way the kidneys handle sodium.

The way in which the kidneys either excrete sodium into the urine or reabsorb it into the body—specifically through a pathway called the sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC)—also plays a 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.

In the study, when researchers fed zinc-deficient mice a zinc-rich diet, once the animals’ zinc reached adequate levels blood pressure began to drop and urinary sodium levels increased. The team concluded these were significant findings demonstrating that enhanced renal [sodium] re-absorption plays a critical role in [zinc-deficiency]-induced hypertension, opening the door to a better understanding of mechanisms by which zinc deficiency contributes to blood pressure dysregulation and so treatment of hypertension in the context of chronic disease.

The body doesn’t store zinc, so you need to eat enough every day to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirement. Good food sources are red meat, oysters and other shellfish, legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans, seeds such as pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds, nuts such as almonds, pine nuts and cashew, eggs and whole grains.

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