Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wisdom Wednesday: Zinc and Hypertension

New research links zinc deficiency to hypertension. Zinc is involved with hundreds of enzyme systems and has other health implications. Zinc has been shown to be beneficial for learning and cognition  and is also recommended for people with a genetic predisposition to heart disease. It may even mitigate certain degenerative effects of aging. Some research indicates zinc deficiency may be a component of dementia.

The link to zinc deficiency and hypertension has been shown in an earlier cohort study, and a new animal study suggests a possible mechanism. Zinc deficient mice were compared to those with normal zinc levels. The researchers found that the zinc deficient mice had decreased sodium excretion and, therefore, higher blood pressure when compared to healthy controls. Zinc deficiency increases blood pressure by causing an upregulation of sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC) and a decrease in sodium excretion.

The researchers stated, “This study links dysregulated renal sodium handling to zinc deficiency induced hypertension. Furthermore, NCC is identified as a novel mechanism by which zinc regulates blood pressure. Understanding the mechanisms of zinc deficiency induced BP dysregulation may have important therapeutic impact on hypertension.”

My Take:
For years, what little attention to diet and hypertension has focused on limiting sodium intake. Unfortunately, conventional health care does not differentiate between organically bound sodium (think celery) and inorganic sodium (added to processed meats). The latter is associated with hypertension, not the former.

Hypertension is the major gateway to prescription medication, eventually leading to polypharmacy (taking 5 or more prescription drugs daily). The average adult American takes 4.5 prescription medications daily. It starts with a beta-blocker, calcium channel blocker or ACE inhibitor to lower blood pressure. This creates edema in the kidneys and lower extremities (congestive heart failure) so a diuretic is added. This creates a potassium (and probably zinc) deficiency requiring a prescription potassium supplement. However, that irritates the stomach, so a proton-pump inhibitor is added. The Prilosec or similar drug leads to anemia, osteoporosis and malnutrition. Now you too, are the average American.

Zinc is abundant in meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs and whole grains. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for zinc is 11mg for men and 8mg for women. However, I believe that level is woefully low. I typically will supplement anywhere from 10 to 30mg of zinc daily when needed.

One of the most common signs of a zinc deficiency is a diminished sense of taste or smell. It’s often so gradual that patients are not aware of the loss. However, they will frequently sprinkle table salt on their food to “improve the taste.” The salt compounds the hypertension issue, increasing inorganic sodium with a zinc deficiency.

I use a simple Zinc Taste Test to determine zinc deficiency. I place a teaspoon of dilute zinc solution on the patient’s tongue. They should immediately note a metallic taste. If not, I have them swish the solution around the mouth, swallow and add some air. This further stimulates the taste buds. If the zinc deficiency is mild, they will then note the metallic taste. If the zinc deficiency is more pronounced, the solution just tastes like water. Over the course of a couple of months, with zinc supplementation, the metallic taste will slowly return.

Bottom Line:
If you have hypertension, consider adding a zinc supplement. Follow my guidelines for dosage and monitor your blood pressure. If you feel your sense of smell or taste are diminished you might also want to supplement some zinc. Standard Process sells the dilute zinc solution if you want to take the Zinc Taste Test.

Source: February 14, 2019 Biotics Research

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