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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Zinc deficiency linked to chronic inflammation
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April 6 2015. A report published in the May 2015 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reveals how being deficient in the mineral zinc results in immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, which is involved in cardiovascular disease and other conditions.

Emily Ho of Oregon State University (OSU) and her colleagues examined the effects of zinc deficiency in cell cultures and aged mice. The team observed an increase in the responses of the cytokines interleukin 1beta and interleukin 6 following the administration of an inflammation-provoking substance to human white blood cells known as monocytes. In aged mice, zinc deficiency was also associated with an increase in interleukin 6 gene expression

"Zinc deficiency induced inflammatory response in part by eliciting aberrant immune cell activation and altered promoter methylation," the authors concluded. "Our results suggested potential interactions between zinc status, epigenetics, and immune function, and how their dysregulation could contribute to chronic inflammation."

"When you take away zinc, the cells that control inflammation appear to activate and respond differently; this causes the cells to promote more inflammation," explained Dr Ho, who is a professor and director of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Dr Ho noted that 12% of U.S. residents and nearly 40% of those 65 and older fail to obtain adequate zinc. In addition to consuming less of it, older men and women are less efficient at absorbing the mineral. "It's a double-whammy for older individuals," she observed.

"We think zinc deficiency is probably a bigger problem than most people realize," Dr Ho noted. "Preventing that deficiency is important."

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Health Concern


Not every person who suffers from atherosclerosis presents with the risk factors commonly associated with the condition, such as elevated cholesterol, but every single person with atherosclerosis has endothelial dysfunction. Aging humans are faced with an onslaught of atherogenic risk factors that, over time, contribute to endothelial dysfunction and the development of atherosclerosis.

The most common clinical tests used to diagnose diabetes are measures of blood glucose. The fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test measures the amount of glucose in the blood after fasting. Prediabetes is diagnosed if the fasting blood glucose level is between 100 and 125 mg/dL. Diabetes is diagnosed if the fasting blood glucose level rises to 126 mg/dL or above.

The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is used to measure insulin response to high glucose levels. During this test, patients are given glucose, and the rise in blood glucose levels is measured. Prediabetes is diagnosed if the glucose level rises to between 140 and 199 mg/dL. Diabetes is diagnosed if blood glucose levels rise to 200 mg/dL or higher.

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