Researchers clarify how zinc levels effect cardiac function

A new study by researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany clarifies the relationship between levels of zinc and its effect on cardiac function.

Research shows when there’s a shortage of zinc in the body, oxidative stress occurs, a condition the heart is particularly susceptible to and one which can predispose the heart to serious diseases. In the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers monitored glutathione and vitamin E and its effect on piglet hearts.

Investigators deprived the animals of nutritional zinc to different extents over a few days to examine the effects of lower levels on the heart. Results showed that the concentration of glutathione and vitamin E in the heart declined alongside lowering zinc levels, suggesting the heart was functioning at lower levels.

"The body was no longer able to compensate for the resulting shortage of zinc, even though our tests only ran for a few days," said Daniel Brugger, the lead author on the study and a tk at the Chair of Animal Nutrition at TUM, in a statement. "After the first phase, during which a reduction in tissue zinc concentration was observed, the heart muscle intervened and increased the amount of zinc back to the basal (control) level. However, this increase took place at the expense of the zinc content of other organs—above all the liver, kidneys, and the pancreas."

Brugger suggests further research be completed to confirm the findings and explain how the body delegates zinc to different organs when levels are low.