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New studies show that low levels of zinc are found in many cardiac patients and supplementation can help relieve symptoms like angina. Learn whether you should take advantage of these zinc supplement benefits.
Zinc Deficiency Associated with Cardiac Diseases
Zinc levels tend to decline with age, just as the risk for cardiovascular diseases increases. Some of the well-known consequences of zinc deficiency are a compromised immune system, skin conditions like dermatitis, increased susceptibility to infection and parasites, and growth failure.
Researchers believe that decreased zinc levels might also increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that zinc levels are often significantly lower in people with conditions like atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, angina, and cardiac ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart).[1,2,3,4,5] In one study, a higher rate of cardiac failure was found in patients who were zinc deficient.
Zinc Supplements Help Relieve Symptoms
In many cases, zinc supplements can help to relieve the conditions listed above. There are several studies showing that around 300 mg/day of zinc can prevent and treat angina (chest pain). Supplementation with zinc has also been shown to protect the heart from injury due to lack of blood supply (ischemia).
Why Does Zinc Help Your Heart Health?
So how, exactly, does zinc protect your heart? Zinc is involved in many enzymatic reactions, cellular signaling mechanisms, and other essential functions in the cell. And although it is not an antioxidant itself, zinc can exhibit antioxidant effects indirectly through the activation of other molecules.[2,6]
Low zinc levels are associated with comprised antioxidant defenses that normally protect the heart, leading to a susceptibility to oxidative stress.[3,6] Zinc deficiency is also associated with cell death (apoptosis) in heart tissues, as zinc normally suppresses apoptosis.[2,3] Zinc supplementation is, therefore, an effective way to protect the heart from injury.
Are You Zinc Deficient?
The adequate zinc intake is 8 mg/day for men and 11 mg/day for women. The upper limit is 40 mg/day for adults. You may not be getting enough zinc if you are elderly, vegetarian, have digestive problems that affect your absorption of nutrients, or are taking an ACE inhibitor.
Talk with your doctor to determine whether you are zinc deficient and whether you might benefit from treatment with zinc. High doses of zinc can have negative effects, so work with your doctor to determine the best dosage.
This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated.
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 J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2014 Oct;64(4):393-400.