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Life Extension Update

Zinc supplementation associated with better glucose handling in prediabetics

Tuesday, April 26 2016

A trial reported in the May 2016 issue of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice found that supplementing with zinc improved the ability of prediabetic men and women to handle glucose. "A number of small studies indicate that zinc supplementation improves glucose handling," note authors M.R. Islam of Australia's University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute and colleagues. "In this pilot, double blind, randomized placebo controlled trial, we set out to investigate if zinc supplementation among prediabetic adults improves fasting blood glucose (FBG), HOMA [homeostatic model assessment, an index of insulin resistance] parameters, and ultimately, prevents the development of type 2 diabetes."

The trial included 55 prediabetic patients residing in Bangladesh, which is one of the most zinc deficient regions in the world. Subjects received 30 milligrams zinc sulfate or a placebo daily for six months. Fasting glucose, HOMA parameters, including pancreatic beta cell function, insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance; serum zinc, and lipids were measured at the beginning and end of the study.

At the end of the treatment period, participants who received zinc had lower fasting glucose compared to the placebo group as well as compared to levels measured in their own group at the beginning of the study. Beta cell function, insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance also improved among those who received zinc.

As potential mechanisms, the authors note that zinc is needed for insulin's action and carbohydrate metabolism, to moderate inflammatory cytokine levels that can destroy beta cells, for preventing human islet amyloid polypeptide from aggregating into amyloid fibers that have a toxic effect on beta cells, to reduce oxidative stress and for other protective functions.

"To our knowledge this is the first trial to show an improvement in glucose handling using HOMA parameters in participants with prediabetes," Dr Islam and associates announce.

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