Zinc deficiency has already been linked to type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, but it can also cause hypertension, say researchers from the Wright State University in the US.
It's all to do with the way our kidneys handle sodium, either when they are excreting it into the urine or re-absorbing it into the body. Either way, a pathway called the sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC) plays a part—and this also happens to help control blood pressure levels.
Doctors know that low sodium levels in urine is an indication of hypertension—but they may not realise that zinc can help regulate the NCC process. In turn, zinc can also help control blood pressure, the researchers say.
In tests on laboratory mice, the researchers noted that those that were zinc-deficient developed hypertension—and they were also excreting less sodium in their urine. Half were then fed a zinc-rich diet and their blood pressure levels started to return to normal and their urinary sodium levels rose.