Zinc supplementation reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
An article published in the June, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes a clinical trial involving older men and women which found reductions in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation among those who supplemented with zinc. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are risk factors for atherosclerosis, and zinc deficiency has been observed in a number of other diseases associated with these conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and cancers. "We previously observed that healthy elderly subjects had increased concentrations of plasma lipid peroxidation byproducts and endothelial cell adhesion molecules compared with concentrations in younger adults," the authors write in their introduction. "Zinc was proposed to have an atheroprotective function because of its antiinflammatory, antioxidant, and other properties."
In a double-blinded trial, 40 healthy men and women between the ages of 56 and 83 were randomized to receive 45 milligrams zinc from zinc gluconate or a placebo for 6 months. C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 and other markers of inflammation were measured before and after treatment, as were malondialdehyde and hydroxyalkenals, which are markers of lipid peroxidation.
Zinc concentrations were higher in the zinc group by the end of the study, while remaining relatively unchanged among those who received the placebo. Plasma antioxidant powers were higher, and malondialdehyde and hydroxyalkenals were lower in the zinc supplemented subjects after 6 months, indicating a reduction in lipid peroxidation. Additionally, plasma C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and other inflammation-associated factors were reduced among those who received zinc. “To our knowledge, this is the first documentation to show the down-regulation of plasma CRP concentrations by zinc supplementation in human subjects,” the authors remark.
In another experiment involving cell cultures, zinc also reduced indicators of inflammation and lipid peroxidation as well as the activation of nuclear transcription factor kappa-beta, which is involved in the initiation and development of atherosclerosis.
"This study showed that zinc increased antioxidant power and decreased CRP, inflammatory cytokines, adhesion molecules, and oxidative stress markers in elderly subjects after 6 months of supplementation," the authors write. “These findings suggest that zinc may have a protective effect in atherosclerosis because of its antiinflammatory and antioxidant functions,” they conclude.
We now understand atherosclerosis as a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the way arteries function at the most basic level. Instead of viewing the arteries as pipes through which blood flows, we now understand that arteries are muscular organs that change and adapt to their environment and contract and expand in response to multiple factors, helping to raise and lower blood pressure and distribute blood throughout the body. Finally, we have begun to unravel the biochemical processes that underlie atherosclerosis.
Blood testing is a very important part of any risk-reduction program for coronary heart disease. Healthy adults should have their blood tested at least once a year. People who have heart disease or multiple risk factors should have their blood tested twice a year to monitor their progress. A comprehensive blood test will measure levels of blood lipids, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, fibrinogen, and other blood markers. Regular blood pressure monitoring is also important. Life Extension recommends an optimal blood pressure reading of 119/75. Life Extension also recommends that people aim for low levels of C-reactive protein, LDL, homocysteine, and other markers of disease. The following table summarizes the optimal ranges for various blood levels:
Life Extension’s Optimal Range
Up to 460 mg/dL
Less than 300 mg/dL
Up to 4.9 mg/L
Less than 0.55 mg/L (men) Less than 1.5 mg/L (women)
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