High Blood Pressure Linked to This Surprising Nutrient Deficiency

According to new nutritional science, there is great news for the more than 100 million people suffering from high blood pressure (in the United States alone). Research shows that a zinc deficiency may be the missing link behind the condition known as hypertension. The new study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology found that a zinc deficiency can cause the kidneys to absorb more sodium than they otherwise would, thereby potentially increasing blood pressure by throwing off the body’s delicate mineral balance.

Scientists have known about the zinc deficiency link to hypertension for over two decades thanks to studies like one published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology which showed the link, but it has been unclear as to the role of a zinc deficiency in high blood pressure. The new study shows that the mineral deficiency causes excessive sodium absorption.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the measure of force that blood applies to the walls of the arteries as it travels through the blood vessels carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body and back again. When blood pressure becomes high, which is known as hypertension, it can damage the arteries making them less effective at moving blood through the body. It can be a risk factor for heart concerns like stroke, heart attack, and other heart disease-related problems.

Zinc is a Nutritional Powerhouse in the Body

Zinc is a mineral required by the body to make over 300 different enzymes—specialized proteins that are required for many of the body’s biochemical processes, which we now understand includes regulating sodium absorption by the kidneys. Without sufficient amounts of zinc, your body is vulnerable to attacks on its immune system, problems with reproduction, poor skin health and vision impairment. In addition to the kidneys, the brain, heart, liver, muscles and even our blood depend on zinc for health. Even a minor deficiency can have wide-reaching health effects and may be the missing link in regulating high blood pressure.

The Problem of Excessive Sodium

While sodium is an essential mineral, meaning that we need it to survive, too much can be extremely dangerous. Contrary to the advice I’ve been seeing on many health blogs on the internet, excessive amounts can be harmful. Sodium is one of the minerals that is known as an electrolyte which is a class of substances that regulate the healthy function of cells and organs, particularly the cells’ ability to conduct electricity and regulate water.

Sodium is intricately involved in heart muscle contractions which help to regulate overall heart function. Together with another electrolyte, potassium, sodium significantly influences heart health—for better or worse depending on the amount we ingest through diet or drugs. To simplify the science, sodium increases blood pressure and potassium decreases it. Taken in the right proportions sodium and potassium can regulate blood pressure and significantly influence heart health. However, an underlying zinc deficiency may cause high sodium levels, which in turn, may lower essential potassium levels, since the two minerals work together for balance: when one is high the other tends to become low. And, a high sodium and low potassium diet like the one most North Americans eat is linked to a 50 percent increased risk of death from heart disease.

The Problems with the Drugs Used to Treat Hypertension

Instead of addressing a zinc deficiency, many people turn to statin drugs, beta blockers or ACE-inhibitors to treat their high blood pressure, but these drugs are replete with many nasty side-effects. Statins are linked to weakness, dementia and muscle pain. Beta blockers can block compounds in your body that regulate the heart to slow your heart and are linked to dizziness, weight gain, cold extremities, depression and breathing problems. ACE Inhibitors have been linked to dizziness, fatigue, headaches, loss of taste and even death. Never discontinue any medication without consulting your physician first.

How Much Zinc Do You Need?

Nutrition experts estimate that adult women and men need about 8 to 11 milligrams of zinc, respectively, on a daily basis; however, there really is no such thing as an average person, so our needs may fluctuate depending on our health and at varying stages of life. Men tend to need 11 milligrams daily since zinc is vital to male reproductive health. Infections, stress, trauma and the use of steroid medications can deplete zinc in your body, as can conditions like Crohn’s disease.

Food Sources of Zinc

While oysters are the most known source of zinc, there are many others, including: legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, Romano beans, etc.; beets and beet greens, Brazil nuts (other nuts too but Brazils contain higher amounts); carrots; dark leafy green vegetables; nuts and nut butters; onions; peas; pumpkin and sunflower seeds; sprouts, and whole grains.

Supplementing with Zinc

If you choose to supplement with this mineral, zinc gluconate, zinc citrate and zinc orotate tend to be the most absorbable forms. Different nutrition experts have their specific preferences. Do not exceed dosage amounts indicated on the package of the product you select, as the mineral can build up to toxic levels in the body. Additionally, it competes with copper, which is also important for health. Keep zinc supplements out of reach of children. Do not take zinc supplements within 2 hours of high fiber foods like bran since fiber can bind to zinc and escort it out of your body.

For more information about naturally regulating high blood pressure, check out my blog, “12 Foods to Eat if You Have High Blood Pressure.”

Related Stories:

 

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, founder of Scentsational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. Follow her work.

 

84 comments

Colin C
Colin Clauscen9 days ago

I take one zinc tablet daily and have done for over 15 years. I virtually never get colds and my blood pressure is great for my age.

SEND
Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine A18 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Sandra V
Sandra Vito18 days ago

Thanks

SEND
Sandra V
Sandra Vito18 days ago

Thanks

SEND
beba h
beba h19 days ago

Always try to have a fresh salad with sprouts, greens, beets etc everyday.

SEND
Jessica K
Jessica K19 days ago

Never knew that carrots had zinc and that potassium reduces blood pressure. Thanks.

SEND
David C
David C20 days ago

thanks

SEND
David C
David C20 days ago

thanks

SEND
Shirley Plowman
Shirley Plowman20 days ago

VERY INFORMATIVE ARTICLE, MANY THANKS.

SEND
Tabot T
Tabot T21 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

SEND