Your body needs zinc to perform its best. Zinc aids in growth and development, immune function and more, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. But people with hypertension need to watch their levels — too much or too little zinc can affect your blood pressure.
Foods With Zinc
This essential element can be found in foods that include oysters, crab, beef chuck roast, lobster and pork chops, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Smaller amounts can be found in milk, almonds, kidney beans, chicken breasts and cheddar cheese. In some cases, manufacturers add zinc to certain foods, such as breakfast cereals.
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However, whole-grain breads, cereals and legumes all contain phytates, a compound that binds with zinc and limits its absorption, per the ODS. So, even though there might be the same amount of zinc in your cereal and in your burger, you'll likely absorb more zinc from the animal-derived food rather than the plant-based food.
Because zinc, like copper, helps regulate heart health, having too much or too little can throw off your cardiovascular system, including blood pressure, according to a January 2013 study in Medical Science Monitor. Researchers noted that many factors contribute to high blood pressure, including excess sodium, inadequate physical activity, excess alcohol intake, excess body weight and inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, but that a zinc deficiency may also play a role.
The study noted this could be because you don't taste salt as well with less zinc in your body, and that could lead you to pour on the salt and up your sodium levels as a result. And a diet high in salt can boost blood pressure levels, according to the American Heart Association.
Too much zinc may also increase your blood pressure, according to dietitian McKenzie Caldwell, MPH, RDN, of Feed Your Zest Nutrition & Wellness in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Some research has indicated that populations living in areas with too much zinc consumption, which is sometimes called 'zinc pollution,' may have more cases of hypertension," she says. "More research needs to be done, but it's safe to say that we need an adequate amount, and that means not too much, in order to maintain healthy blood pressure."
For example, the Medical Science Monitor study noted hypertension is more common in the city of Chandigarh in India than in other Indian cities, and it also has higher concentrations of zinc in its vegetables because of irrigation techniques.
Zinc and Other Minerals
Zinc interacts with other minerals, especially copper, to affect blood pressure, according to a September 2018 study in Biological Trace Element Research. Other minerals can also play an important role, according to Caldwell.
"Getting an adequate amount of magnesium, calcium and potassium — first from food and then from supplements, if recommended by your healthcare provider — can help you manage your high blood pressure," she says.
Because too little or too much zinc can have adverse effects on your blood pressure, it's important to make sure you are getting the right amount of this mineral in your diet.
The recommended daily allowance for zinc is 8 to 11 milligrams a day, depending on your sex assigned at birth, according to the ODS. However, the precise amount you need depends on a variety of factors, including your age and your overall health, and whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
Zinc is also available in some over-the-counter cold medications and supplements. However, Caldwell suggests talking with your doctor before taking zinc supplements for health.
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: “Zinc”
- Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health: “Zinc”
- Medical Science Monitor: “Zinc, Copper, and Blood Pressure: Human Population Studies”
- American Heart Association: “Sodium”
- McKenzie Caldwell, MPH, RDN, Feed Your Zest Nutrition & Wellness, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Biological Trace Element Research: “Association Between Hypertension in Healthy Participants and Zinc and Copper Status: A Population-Based Study”
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