In a nutshell
This study examined how serum zinc levels impact insulin sensitivity and pancreatic beta cell function in pre-diabetes.
Zinc, a chemical compound found in our body, is involved with the formation, storage and secretion of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels). It is an essential component of insulin action and sugar metabolism. The normal serum zinc concentration (the amount of zinc found in the blood) is between 10 and 18 umol/L.
Type II diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance. The body produces insulin, but cells fail to respond to it, leading to increased blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and increased blood insulin levels (hyperinsulinaemia). This can lead to failure of the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Pre-diabetes is a condition associated with increased blood glucose levels and decreased insulin sensitivity. Pre-diabetes is known to amplify the risk of developing type II diabetes up to six-folds, according to latest studies.
Previous studies have suggested that zinc supplementation may be appropriate in the management of type II diabetes, however evidence in support of zinc supplementation is controversial. This study evaluated serum zinc concentrations in patients with normal blood glucose levels (normoglycemic), pre-diabetes and type II diabetes in order to further investigate the role zinc in the management of diabetes.
Methods & findings
This study included 452 participants, including normoglycemic (average fasting blood glucose of 4.8 mmol/L), pre-diabetic (average fasting blood glucose of 5.8 mmol/L) and diabetic (average fasting blood glucose of 6.8 mmol/L) patients.
Results showed that blood zinc concentrations were similar across all three groups (averaging 13 umol/L). As expected, blood insulin concentrations were significantly higher in pre-diabetic and diabetic patients compared to normoglycemic patients, indicating increased insulin resistance (decreased insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function). However, within the pre-diabetic group, there was a strong correlation between serum zinc level and insulin sensitivity. This indicated that increasing zinc concentrations are associated with increased insulin sensitivity.
The bottom line
This study concluded that among pre-diabetic patients, increased insulin sensitivity is associated with increased blood zinc concentrations. This implies that zinc supplementation may improve insulin sensitivity and delay the onset of diabetes among pre-diabetic patients.
The fine print
Further randomized trials involving zinc supplementation are needed to confirm these results.
Consult with your physician regarding the possible benefits of zinc supplementation in preventing the onset of diabetes.
Published By :
Jan 08, 2014
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