Dietary Zinc can help mend our DNA?

Today I came across an article on ‘medical news today’, which talked about the benefits of a modest increase of dietary zinc. I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt with you, as I was surprised to find out how many benefits it could reap.

 What are the benefits of zinc?

Zinc is well known to have a role in aspects of cellular metabolism and division, alongside supporting human development and growth. Limiting inflammation and reducing oxidative stress are also benefits of zinc, with the potential to protect against cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Alongside helping to maintain the health of the human immune system and having a role in DNA and protein synthesis.

It is also known that our DNA deteriorates, although we can regenerate it until late adulthood. What is the role of zinc in this? It aids DNA and protiensyntheis, and thus insufficient zinc compromised the ability of the human body to repair everyday damage to DNA.

 The research 

What is really interesting is that research published in the ‘American Journal of Clinical nutrition’ suggests that a small additional intake (around 4 milligrams) can have a positive impact on the health of cells, and aid the human body to fight infection – certainly a benefit at this time of year!

It was researches from the Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute who set out to show the benefits of an increase in dietary zinc on metabolic functions, and the effect of the equivalent amount provided by biofortified crops in nutrient-deficient regions was tested. Food fortification slightly increases the zinc content of cereals (e.g. wheat and rice) and some studies have shown a positive effect on the functional indicators of zinc within the human body.

A randomised 6 week controlled study was devised by researchers, and 18 men consumed a low- zinc, rice based diet.The diet consisted of 6 milligrams per day for 2 weeks and continued with 10 milligrams daily for the remaining 4 weeks.Before and after the diet, the researchers measured zinc homeostasis indicators and other metabolic indicators, including oxidative stress, DNA damage and DNA inflammation.

 The results 

It revealed significant changes in the zinc homeostasis indicators, and an increase in the levels of total absorbed zinc, while plasma zinc concentrations remained the same. Something I found both intriguing and promising was that Leukocyte DNA strand breaks were also reduced with increased dietary zinc, which suggests that a modest increase in zinc reduces the everyday “wear and tear” of the DNA.

The potential benefits of an increase in dietary zinc are therefore tremendous, however to what extent is yet to be shown, and more research is underway to investigate if this is a permanent improvement. Zinc rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, chicken and cashews – so make sure you’re eating plenty of these, to help your body function and help to mend your DNA!

The article mentioned is linked here

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