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Open Access Zinc as a potential coadjuvant in therapy for type 2 diabetes

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Background: Type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent in populations having high rates of overweight and obesity. It is a chronic condition responsible for long-term severe dysfunction of several organs, including the kidneys, heart, blood vessels, and eyes. Although there are a number of pharmacologic products in the market to treat insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion—the most prominent features of this disease—interventions directed at preserving the integrity and function of β-cells in the long term are less available. The use of some nutrients with important cellular protective roles that may lead to a preservation of β-cells has not been fully tested; among these, zinc may be an interesting candidate.

Objective: To assess the potential of zinc supplementation as coadjuvant to diabetes therapy.

Methods: This article reviews the available information on the use of zinc as part of diabetes therapy.

Results: Cellular and animal models provide information on the insulin mimetic action of zinc, as well as its role as a regulator of oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, and insulin secretion. Zinc supplementation studies in humans are limited, although some positive effects have been reported; mainly, a modest but significant reduction in fasting glucose and a trend to decreased glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).

Conclusions: Zinc supplementation may have beneficial effects on glycemic control. Nevertheless, among the studies considered, the vast majority lasted for 6 months or less, suggesting the importance of conducting long-duration studies given the characteristics of type 2 diabetes as a chronic disease.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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