Science Update

New study investigates the effects of zinc supplementation in chronic kidney disease

Over the past decade chronic kidney disease (CKD) has become a growing public health concern, with the two leading underlying causes of end-stage kidney disease being type II diabetes and hypertension.

In a study published last Tuesday in Nutrients, researchers investigated the effects of zinc supplementation in CKD.

Zinc is an essential trace mineral and a cofactor that impacts the structure and function of over 3000 proteins. A significant level of zinc has been found in numerous organs including the heart, liver, and kidney; thus, maintaining an adequate amount of zinc is essential for optimal health and function. Zinc deficiency has been shown to exacerbate the symptoms associated with CKD. Zinc protects against oxidative stress and plays an essential role in microtubule formation and function. Although zinc requirements have not been established in CKD, it is recommended that patients receive the dietary reference intakes (DRI) for this mineral.

This new study was a randomized trial consisting of 48 patients with CKD under 18 years of age. Each patient consumed either 15 mg or 30 mg of zinc supplementation per day for approximately 11 months. Assessments and laboratory biomarkers included serum zinc, body mass index (BMI), serum albumin, and C-reactive protein (CRP).

Results showed a positive association between serum zinc levels and serum albumin levels before and after zinc supplementation. In addition, there was a significant change in BMI, hypoalbuminemia, zinc, and CRP levels, with a greater effect in the group receiving 30 mg of zinc. With this study demonstrating the importance of zinc in CKD, assessment and supplementation of zinc should be considered in these individuals.

Other nutrients to consider for kidney support include fiber, resistant starch, fish oil, phosphatidylcholine, and n-acetyl-cysteine or glutathione.

Previous research has demonstrated that a high fiber diet can help mitigate disease severity and kidney dysfunction in patients with CKD. Higher dietary fiber intake is linked to better kidney function and lower risk of inflammation and mortality.

Fish oil supplementation has been shown to decrease protein in the urine as well as protect kidney function and slow the rate of kidney dysfunction. Doses up to 10 grams per day have been used. Phospholipids (such as phosphatidylcholine) support cell membrane regeneration and decrease the body burden of xenobiotics.

Each person's biochemical individuality exerts a major influence on his or her health. The level of nutrient intake, lifestyle choices and environmental exposures filtered through genetic predisposition are major factors in the expression of disease, and a successful treatment approach must investigate these factors.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Escobedo-Monge MF, Ayala-Macedo G, et al. Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Nutritional Status in Children with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Randomized Trial. Nutrients. 2019 November 5;11(11).