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Scientists have long debated whether or not zinc is good for high blood pressure. Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between zinc and blood pressure, but they hadn’t been able to put their finger on what that relationship was until recently.
There were a few things that they knew for certain which were:
- Individuals with zinc deficiency were more likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Blood vessels in the heart and brain were more sensitive to zinc than other vessels in the body.
- Zinc supplements reduced the systolic blood pressure numbers but did not affect the diastolic blood pressure numbers.
Now, after decades of research, they are honing in on exactly how zinc affects your blood pressure. Zinc can assist to regulate blood pressure levels. We have some great suggestion on how to lower your blood pressure fast.
What is zinc?
Zinc is a trace mineral that’s essential to our body, but not produced by it. While our bodies only need a small amount of it, that doesn’t reduce its importance. After iron, zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in your body.
Found throughout your body’s cells, zinc aids the immune system’s fight against disease and infection and is vital in wound healing. Additionally, it plays a major part in fetal development during pregnancy and throughout childhood.
Since the body doesn’t produce zinc, foods containing it provide the low recommended daily allowance (RDA) we need.
If you aren’t getting enough zinc from your diet, you could have low levels in your body. Your blood pressure medication(s) could also be a culprit of low zinc, as some of them decrease the amount of zinc in your blood.
While the reason why was previously unknown, studies showed that people with a zinc deficiency were more likely to have high blood pressure. Researchers started running studies and labs to figure out why.
The relationship between sodium and zinc
You might wonder what these two things have in common, or what sodium has to do with whether zinc is good for hypertension. Understanding how they each work and their relationship to each other can help explain the recent scientific findings.
What is sodium?
Sodium is a mineral, and a chemical element found in salt we use for food. Sodium is essential for our life function. But too much sodium can be a very bad thing.
Sodium is required to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals in your body. The latter plays a big part in whether you have higher or lower blood pressure numbers
You only need about 500 milligrams of sodium a day to accomplish these tasks.
The average American consumes about 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day. That’s approximately 3,400 milligrams! That’s 2,900 grams higher than what you need. This excess of sodium is what leads to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Reason for this increased risk of diseases is that the kidneys have trouble keeping up with all the extra sodium in your blood. The more sodium your body holds on to, the more water it retains to dilute the sodium.
Extra water increases the amount of fluid in your body and the volume of blood flowing throughout it.
The additional blood flow creates more work for your heart and puts pressure on your blood vessels. As time goes on, the workload and pressure can stiffen the blood vessels, making it harder to pump blood through them. This is how high blood pressure develops.
How zinc levels affect your sodium chloride cotransporter
The job of your sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC), located in the kidneys, is to reabsorb sodium that’s needed from the fluid that will be turned into urine and feed it back to your body. This process is called urinary sodium excretion and plays a key role in controlling your blood pressure.
An overactive NCC will pump more sodium back into your body, reducing what’s removed when you go to the restroom. More sodium in your urine typically corresponds to an excess of it in your body, which leads to hypertension as discussed above.
Here’s where zinc and its effects come in.
Zinc is a cofactor, which is defined as a non-protein chemical compound that binds to a protein. Cofactors can assist in biochemical transformations.
Studies have now shown that your NCC changes its behavior depending on the amount of zinc present in your body.
When your body has a zinc deficiency, the NCC is more stable, works longer, and pumps more sodium back into your body. When you have the right amount of zinc present, researchers found that it is not as active, allowing your body to get rid of the excess sodium.
This explains why the levels of zinc in your body affect your blood pressure. If you do not have adequate levels of it, your body retains more sodium than it needs because the NCC pumps it back into your body.
On the other hand, when zinc is present in your body, your NCC pumps less sodium back into your body. The excess ends up leaving through your urine, reducing the chances of fluid retention and leading to lower blood pressure.
How much zinc do you need?
If you suffer from high blood pressure, getting your recommended amount of zinc is crucial. It could be the difference between whether or not your body is retaining sodium and elevating your blood pressure.
The RDA of zinc for adult men is 11 milligrams a day, while women only require 8 milligrams a day.
When a woman is expecting, her RDA goes up to 11-12 milligrams due to zinc’s importance in DNA creation and development.
While not common in the United States, zinc deficiency has a major impact on arterial blood pressure. Not getting enough can increase your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases also.
While you want to make sure you’re getting enough zinc, you don’t want to overdo it.
Remember, your body doesn’t need much zinc. Too much of a good thing can be harmful.
The right amount of zinc can help lower and prevent high blood pressure numbers. Too much zinc could cause your blood pressure to spike. Researchers have found that excess zinc influences your systolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure, which is the pressure exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels.
Studies also show that too much zinc in your diet can cause a hypertensive state by increasing the oxidative stress on your arteries.
How can you get more zinc if you aren’t getting enough?
Change Your Diet To Incorporate Foods Naturally Zinc Rich Foods
The best way to provide your body with more zinc is by having a zinc rich diet.
Shellfish such as Alaskan king crab, cooked lobster, cooked shrimp, and especially oysters are rich in zinc. These are only a few examples of seafood options high in zinc, but there are plenty of other foods you can eat.
Here are a few more foods you can add to your diet to get more zinc.
Red meat, pork, and poultry
- The foods in this category that are highest in zinc are beef chuck pot roast, pork chops with the fat still on them, roasted chicken legs with the skin, and lean roasted ham. Many types of meat can help you hit your zinc RDA within 1-2 servings.
- Whole grains are grains that contain the 3 major parts of a seed. Those parts are the bran, which is the outer layer, the germ (middle layer), and the endosperm (core). Examples include brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn (unsalted for reduced sodium intake), whole-wheat bread, and pasta.
Nuts and seeds
- Nuts and seeds don’t contain a lot of zinc per serving, but, as a snack, they are a great way to add a milligram or two. Your best options in the nut category are pine nuts, dry roasted pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, and almonds. As for seeds, grab a handful of pumpkin or squash seeds, or sunflower seeds. If you like homemade smoothies, add an ounce of chia seeds or flax seeds for their zinc.
- Legumes are great sides to any meal, or a snack, depending on how you eat them. Some that contain zinc are beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. Outside of providing zinc, legumes are good on their own for lowering blood pressure.
- This is another food ground that doesn’t contain much zinc per serving, but enough to make a difference when going for the RDA of 8-11 milligrams. Avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, raspberries, and cantaloupes all contain small amounts of zinc.
- No healthy diet is complete without vegetables. Cooked shiitake mushrooms, green peas, spinach, lima beans, and asparagus all add about 1-2 milligrams of zinc to your meal.
There are plenty of foods you can eat to get the recommended amount of zinc you need without the addition of supplements. Be mindful of these zinc-packed foods as well. You don’t want to add too much zinc to your diet and have excess in your body.
If you suffer from hypertension, consult your healthcare provider before taking zinc supplements. It is important to check whether any additional supplements will interact with your medication.
In addition, you should make sure you don’t get more zinc than you need through supplements.
Here at Shealy-Sorin Wellness we recommend a zinc supplement as part of a basic vitamin & supplement regimen to bolster the immune system and provide proper levels of zinc.
Additional benefits of zinc
Along with helping treat high blood pressure, zinc is beneficial in a variety of ways. Some of them are…
When in excess, zinc can cause oxidative stress, but the right amount of zinc reduces the body’s oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body, which can lead to chronic inflammation. If the oxidative stress is reduced, that reduces swelling and inflammation.
Boosts your immune system
Zinc enhances the performance of and increases the number of T cells. The job of T cells is to help the immune system protect the body and fight off infections. The proper amount of zinc in your body helps these cells properly function, increasing the strength of your immune system as a whole.
Faster wound healing
Your body uses zinc throughout the process of healing a wound or injury. Zinc is used in these instances to help speed that process up.
Zinc is good to take for high blood pressure
Still curious if zinc is good for high blood pressure? Science believes so. And we have seen so with our patients at Shealy-Sorin Wellness with high blood pressure.
Zinc has proven to be essential for many internal body functions. Now, it seems to be a mineral necessary to lower blood pressure as well.
To summarize, it’s been known that zinc affects blood pressure levels, but how was the question.
After years of research, it seems that zinc levels directly impact how the body excrete sodium.
The NCC, located in the kidney, is responsible for reabsorbing sodium from the liquid in your body before it’s turned to urine. When there is a zinc deficiency within the body, the kidneys handle sodium differently.
With less zinc present, the NCC is overactive which results in it pumping more sodium back into the blood.
The additional sodium leads to water retention putting a strain on your blood vessels. This strain makes it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout the body, increasing the blood pressure.
When the body has adequate amounts of zinc, the NCC isn’t as active, reducing the amount of sodium retained.
If you want to add more zinc to your diet hoping to control your blood pressure, eating foods rich in zinc is the best option, which there is a variety of.
Supplements are another option, just be sure to check with your doctor before starting them. They will be able to tell you how it will interact with your blood pressure medications.