Lower marker of oxidative stress and greater total antioxidant capacity associated with zinc supplementation


September 22, 2020

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials published on August 21, 2020 in Pharmacological Research supports a protective effect against oxidative stress in association with supplementing with the mineral zinc. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals and has been linked with aging and age-related diseases.

“To our knowledge, there is no systematic review and meta-analysis summarizing the effects of zinc supplementation on oxidative stress biomarkers,” wrote Seyed Mohammad Mousavi of Tehran University of Medical Sciences and colleagues. “We, therefore, aimed to summarize all published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effects of zinc administration on oxidative stress biomarkers, including malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of oxidative stress), total antioxidant capacity, glutathione, and nitric oxide.”

Dr Mousavi and his associates selected 10 randomized trials for their meta-analysis. Pooled data from the participants of eight trials that reported information concerning the association of zinc supplementation with serum MDA levels revealed a significant reduction of 0.42 micromoles per liter among participants who received zinc in comparison with those who received a placebo. Among the four trials that reported total antioxidant capacity, levels were significantly higher among zinc-supplemented subjects compared to the placebo group, and among three trials that reported glutathione levels, supplemented participants also had higher levels. Nitric oxide levels did not significantly differ between participants that received zinc and those who received a placebo in the four trials that investigated this association.

The authors list zinc’s role in glutathione peroxidase regulation, its function in the endogenous antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) in cell membranes and its inhibitory effect against lipid peroxidase and NADPH-oxidase enzymes as among factors contributing to its ability to lower oxidative stress. They note that the benefits concluded by their analysis may be due to the inclusion of a large number of high-dose trials. “Thus, future trials should be designed to investigate the effects of different doses of zinc supplements on these biomarkers,” they recommend.


Apply What You've Learned: Zinc

  • Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential to human health.
  • In addition to its antioxidant function, zinc supports a healthy immune response, hormone production, protein and DNA synthesis and the activity of over 300 enzymes in the body.1
  • Because zinc is insufficient in many individuals, periodic blood testing is recommended to determine whether intake of the mineral is adequate.
  • Blood testing can also reveal excessive copper levels that may be normalized by zinc supplementation. In turn, consuming a high amount of zinc for a prolonged period can result in an increased need for copper.


  1. Prasad AS et al.Adv Nutr. 2013 Mar 1;4(2):176-90.


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