Low levels of the mineral zinc may lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) by affecting the way the kidneys handle sodium in the body, according to a mouse study published in the American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology. Zinc is a trace element that helps support a healthy immune system.
For this study, researchers compared zinc-deficient mice to healthy controls with normal zinc levels. They found that mice with low levels of zinc experienced a decrease in urinary sodium output and developed high blood pressure, while the control group didn’t experience these changes.
Partway through the study, the researchers began feeding a zinc-rich diet to a sub-group of the deficient mice. When zinc levels reached adequate levels in these mice, their blood pressure decreased, and urinary sodium output increased.
In the United States, most people get enough zinc (2 to 13 mg a day, depending on age and other factors) from their diet. Zinc deficiency is more common in people with chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes or kidney disease. Foods that contain zinc include:
- Shellfish, especially oysters and crab
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
Sourced from: American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology