Zinc is an essential mineral required in small amounts by your body for numerous functions. Although better known for its immune boosting and wound healing properties, zinc is present in heart muscle and interacts with calcium in ways to affect heart function that are not well-understood. Heart palpitations, or irregular heartbeats, are not an acknowledged symptom of zinc deficiency, although minerals, in general, are needed to maintain normal muscle tone and function. If you are experiencing irregular heartbeats or racing rhythms that last for more than a few minutes, consult with your doctor as soon as you can.
Zinc is needed for many functions, including strong immunity, quick wound healing, cell division and growth, sperm development, metabolism, testosterone synthesis and the ability to properly taste and smell. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults require between 8 and 13 mg of zinc daily depending on age and gender. Zinc deficiency is not considered common in the United States, although soil depletion, malabsorption issues, liver disease and vegetarian diets can all contribute to not getting enough zinc. Zinc deficiency initially manifests as symptoms related to your skin, hair and fingernails, although it can progress to include reduced immune response and organ failure, including your heart. Heart palpitations have numerous causes, including many benign ones, but they may indicate early signs of heart failure.
A heart palpitation is a noticeably abnormal heartbeat that is perceived as either too fast, too slow or too strong. Thinking that your heart “skipped a beat” is often a palpitation. There are many causes of palpitations, common ones including overexertion, fear, anxiety attacks, stress and over-consumption of caffeine, alcohol and drugs, according to “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.” Chronic heart palpitations also can be an early sign of thyroid dysfunction or heart disease, such as mitral stenosis, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure. Severe mineral and electrolyte imbalance can interfere with contraction of both skeletal and cardiac muscle. If your palpitations are frequent and include sweating, faintness, frequent headaches, chest pain or dizziness, contact your doctor immediately.
Zinc and Heart Palpitations
According to a Turkish study on rats published in a 2011 edition of “Cardiovascular Research,” zinc exists within cardiac muscle in small amounts; it's involved with cellular signaling and interacts with calcium, but very little is known about its precise mechanisms in regards to cardiac function. As such, zinc is used during heart contractions, but in subtle ways that are not well-understood.
To maintain healthy levels of zinc, supplements need not be your only option because zinc is fairly widespread in healthy foods, although the amounts are dependent on the mineral quality of the soil in which they are grown. According to the “American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide,” good sources of zinc include beef liver, red meat, raw oysters, crab, bran flakes, peanuts, avocado, pomegranate, blackberries, bananas and most dairy products.
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc Fact Sheet
- “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine”; A. Fauci, et al.; 2008
- "Cardiovascular Research"; Intracellular Free Zinc During Cardiac Excitation-Contraction Cycle: Calcium and Redox Dependencies; E. Tuncay, et al.; February 2011
- “American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide: 3rd Edition”; Roberta Larson Duyff; 2006