Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located near the middle of the back. They play an important role in removing wastes from the blood and in maintaining its chemical balance. Certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney diseases reduce the functioning of the kidneys and lead to symptoms such as frequent urination, fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling in the extremities and muscle cramps. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include medications and surgery. Certain nutrients and minerals such as zinc play an important role in kidney function.
Zinc is an essential trace element that is essential for overall growth and development, and for the proper functioning of the immune system. The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 2 to 13 milligrams of zinc per day, depending on the age and overall health condition of the person. It can be obtained from foods such as oysters, red meat, beans, nuts and whole grains. Zinc supplements are available at most pharmacies without a prescription and your doctor may recommend them to treat a variety of conditions including zinc deficiency, common infections, macular degeneration, skin conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD.
Link Between Zinc and Kidney Function
Deficiency of zinc can enhance the expression of certain proteins known as angiotensis II that constrict the blood vessels in kidneys and further aggravate the condition of individuals with obstructive kidney disease, according to a study published in the August 2000 issue of the journal “Kidney International.” Another study in the August 2008 issue of the “American Journal of Physiology” also reveals that low levels of zinc during pregnancy and pre- and post-weaning phases can impair the development and maturation of kidneys in the child and, in turn, increase the risk of high blood pressure and renal dysfunction in adult life.
Zinc supplements are generally safe to use at physician recommended doses. Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and metallic taste may occur in some individuals. MedlinePlus also states that taking more than 100 milligrams of zinc supplements for more than 10 years may double the risk of prostate cancer. Many zinc supplements also contain cadmium, high doses of which can lead to kidney damage.
Never use zinc supplements without talking to a doctor. Your doctor may help determine the dose and form that is right for you. Inform your health care professional about your pre-existing conditions and other medications you might be taking as zinc supplements may interfere with certain antibiotics and cancer medications.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Kidney International: Zinc Deficiency Further Increases the Enhanced Expression of Endothelin-1 in Glomeruli of the Obstructed Kidney
- American Journal of Physiology: Moderate Zinc Restriction During Fetal and Postnatal Growth of Rats: Effects on Adult Arterial Blood Pressure and Kidney
- MedlinePlus: Zinc