Zinc could cut cardiovascular risks in type 2 diabetes

| December 6, 2016

It is quite common for people with diabetes to be deficient in the mineral zinc. It has been known for many years that high blood sugar causes more zinc to be lost in the urine. And low zinc status can increase insulin resistance, since zinc helps insulin bind to cells and move glucose from the blood into them. So, high blood sugar and low zinc levels can easily become something of a vicious circle.

Zinc is also essential for the production and storage of insulin. It binds insulin molecules together in a form that the pancreas can store and then release as needed – a property that is exploited in some long-acting types of injectable insulin medication. In addition, zinc prevents clumps of amyloid protein (the same stuff that is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease) forming in the pancreas and interfering with insulin secretion.1

Recently, researchers at New Zealand’s Otago University reviewed all the published studies linking zinc status with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.2 Although the results from individual studies varied, their overall conclusion was that a higher serum zinc level was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease – and zinc’s protective effect was particularly apparent for people with type 2 diabetes.

This review didn’t find a clear link between people’s zinc levels and their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But earlier research suggests that zinc’s multiple actions in the body are likely to contribute to healthy metabolic function and the prevention of metabolic syndrome, even if a definite cause-and-effect mechanism hasn’t been identified.

The lack of certainty in this area could well be due to the differences in people’s genetic make-up. Variations in genes that control zinc transport within the pancreas have recently been implicated with type 2 diabetes incidence, meaning that zinc intake may be more closely linked with diabetes risk for some people than for others.3

Making sure you get enough zinc certainly seems to be sensible – and if you have type 2 diabetes it could even be a life-saver. In my next blog post, I’ll be looking at some of the other health benefits of zinc (there are a lot of them!), the best foods to find it in and how to choose the right zinc supplement.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Salamekh S, Brender JR, Hyung SJ et al. A two-site mechanism for the inhibition of IAPP amyloidogenesis by zinc. J Mol Biol. 2011; 410(2):294-306.

2. Chu A, Foster M, Samman S. Zinc status and risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus—a systematic review of prospective cohort studies. Nutrients. 2016; 8(11):707.

3. Merriman C, Huang Q, Rutter GA, Fu D. Lipid-tuned zinc transport activity of human ZnT8 correlates with risk for type-2 diabetes. J Biol Chem. 2016 Nov 8 (Online ahead of print).

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Category: Natural Diabetes Alternatives

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