Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that has a role in many aspects of cell metabolism. This includes over 300 different enzymes that catalyse essential chemical reactions in our bodies.[51]

One of the primary roles of zinc is in growth and development. Zinc deficiency is known to inhibit growth [52], a link that’s been found especially in children and infants[53,54]. Zinc may directly affect growth hormone levels. A case study on two teenagers who were growth hormone-deficient found that GH levels returned to normal when they were given zinc supplements[55]. Another study from 2013 on 40 children and adolescents with growth hormone deficiency found that they also had a decreased level of zinc in their blood, and the authors concluded that zinc testing and supplementation should be a priority in these cases[56].

Zinc also plays an important role in the body’s antioxidant defences. Zinc has a structural role in one of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzymes, which catalyse the breakdown of damaging superoxide radicals that are formed from oxygen metabolism in our cells. Zinc may also have other mechanisms of action as an antioxidant, which are not yet fully understood.[57] There is also a link between zinc and glutathione: it has been found that zinc deficiency is correlated with decreased levels of glutathione and oxidative stress in different cells and tissues[58].

Zinc may have an effect on the sleep-wake cycle through influencing melatonin production. A study on rats found that those given zinc supplements had higher plasma melatonin levels, and those that were fed a zinc-deficient diet had a decrease in melatonin.[59] However, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of clinical trials directly examining the effects of zinc supplementation on sleep in humans or animals.

Lastly, zinc supplementation has been found to support the healing of wounds, and therefore may encourage collagen production. Topical zinc is known to improve wound healing[60]; and studies in animals have suggested that oral zinc supplementation could also have this effect, and is linked with an increase in collagen fibres at the wound site.[61]

 

REFERENCES

51. McCall KA et al. Function and mechanism of zinc metalloenzymes. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1437S-46S.

52. MacDonald RS. The role of zinc in growth and cell proliferation. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1500S-8S.

53. Walravens PA et al. Zinc supplementation in infants with a nutritional pattern of failure to thrive: a double-blind, controlled study. Pediatrics. 1989 Apr;83(4):532-8.

54. Imdad A, Bhutta ZA. Effect of preventive zinc supplementation on linear growth in children under 5 years of age in developing countries: a meta-analysis of studies for input to the lives saved tool. BMC Public Health. 2011 Apr 13;11 Suppl 3:S22.

55. Collip, PJ et al. Zinc deficiency: improvement in growth and growth hormone levels with oral zinc therapy. Ann Nutr Metab. 26(5):287-290, 1992.

56. Bol’shova OV et al. [Zinc status in children and adolescents with growth hormone deficiency]. Lik Sprava. 2013 Jul-Aug;(5):70-5.

57. Powell, SR. The antioxidant properties of zinc. Journal of Nutrition. 130(5):1447S-1454S, 2000.

58. Omata Y et al. Decreased zinc availability affects glutathione metabolism in neuronal cells and in the developing brain. Toxicol Sci. 2013 May;133(1):90-100.

59. Bediz CS et al. Both zinc deficiency and supplementation affect plasma melatonin levels in rats. Acta Physiol Hung. 2003;90(4):335-9.

60. Agren MS. Studies on zinc in wound healing. Acta Derm Venereol Suppl (Stockh). 1990;154:1-36.

61. Sazegar G et al. The effects of supplemental zinc and honey on wound healing in rats. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2011 Jul;14(4):391-8.

 

 

 

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