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Zinc and Stress Response

Zinc and Stress Response

Zinc is an essential trace mineral naturally present in some foods and involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. Zinc plays a significant role with respect to the stress response. Proper maintenance of zinc status can help to stabilize serum cortisol levels over time,1 and zinc intake has been shown to temporarily inhibit cortisol secretions.2 However, in turn, prolonged stress will deplete zinc concentrations in the blood.3 Zinc deficiency has been demonstrated to increase plasma cortisol and the pro-inflammatory mediators of interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-1, and nitric oxide levels.4

Zinc is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes.5,6 Zinc plays a role in immune function,7,8 protein synthesis,9 wound healing,9 DNA synthesis,6,9 and cell division.9 Zinc supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence,10,11 and zinc is necessary for proper sense of taste and smell.12 Given that the body has no specialized zinc storage system, regular daily zinc intake is required to maintain a steady state and to prevent deficiency.13


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  6. Panel on Micronutrients, et al. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.
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  13. Maret W, Sandstead HH. Zinc requirements and the risks and benefits of zinc supplementation. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2006;20(1):3-18.

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