Category Archives: Zinc

Possible link between zinc deficiency and both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

There’s so much work being done to get to the bottom of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. FoodFacts.com understands how these two heartbreaking conditions affect millions worldwide, slowly changing the lives of those afflicted, eventually resulting in their death. It’s a long, difficult road for most and while science has uncovered more information about both diseases, to date there is no cure. Today we read some fascinating new information that we wanted to share with our community.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made a discovery that, if replicated in humans, suggests a shortage of zinc may contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which have been linked to defective proteins clumping together in the brain.

With proteins, shape is everything. The correct shape allows some proteins to ferry atoms or molecules about a cell, others to provide essential cellular scaffolding or identify invading bacteria for attack. When proteins lose their shape due to high temperature or chemical damage, they stop working and can clump together – a hallmark of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The UW researchers have discovered another stress that decreases protein stability and causes clumping: a shortage of zinc, an essential metal nutrient.

Zinc ions play a key role in creating and holding proteins in the correct shape. In a study just published in the online Journal of Biological Chemistry, Colin MacDiarmid and David Eide show that the gene Tsa1 creates “protein chaperones” that prevent clumping of proteins in cells with a zinc shortage. By holding proteins in solution, Tsa1 prevents damage that can otherwise lead to cell death.

For simplicity, the researchers studied the system in yeast – a single-celled fungus. Yeast can adapt to both shortages and excesses of zinc, says MacDiarmid, an associate scientist. “Zinc is an essential nutrient but if there’s too much, it’s toxic. The issue for the cell is to find enough zinc to grow and support all its functions, while at the same time not accumulating so much that it kills the cell.”

Cells that are low in zinc also produce proteins that counter the resulting stress, including one called Tsa1.

The researchers already knew that Tsa1 could reduce the level of harmful oxidants in cells that are short of zinc. Tsa1, MacDiarmid says, “is really a two-part protein. It can get rid of dangerous reactive oxygen species that damage proteins, but it also has this totally distinct chaperone function that protects proteins from aggregating. We found that the chaperone function was the more important of the two.”

“In yeast, if a cell is deficient in zinc, the proteins can mis-fold, and Tsa1 is needed to keep the proteins intact so they can function,” says Eide, a professor of nutritional science. “If you don’t have zinc, and you don’t have Tsa1, the proteins will glom together into big aggregations that are either toxic by themselves, or toxic because the proteins are not doing what they are supposed to do. Either way, you end up killing the cell.”

While the medical implications remain to be explored, there are clear similarities between yeast and human cells. “Zinc is needed by all cells, all organisms, it’s not just for steel roofs, nails and trashcans,” Eide says. “The global extent of zinc deficiency is debated, but diets that are high in whole grains and low in meat could lead to deficiency.”

If low zinc supply has the same effect on human cells as on yeast, zinc deficiency might contribute to human diseases that are associated with a build-up of “junked” proteins, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Eide says a similar protective system to Tsa1 also exists in animals, and the research group plans to move ahead by studying that system in human cell culture.

FoodFacts.com wants to remind our community that foods like sardines, chicken, beef, pumpkin seeds, nuts and eggs are good dietary sources of zinc. It’s so important to maintain a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods in order to consume all the nutrients we need.  Our total nutrition depends on it. We look forward to hearing more information from these researchers in hopes that it may lead to a better understanding of both these diseases and one day, a cure.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/266855.php

Nutritional link to fertility for men

FoodFacts.com is happy to see that finally, science is looking into the fertility concerns surrounding men of a certain age AND finding that nutrition appears to play a part in the improvement of sperm quality in men over the age of 44.

That’s right, there seems to be a link between micro-nutrients and healthy sperm. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folate and Zinc help turn back the biological clock for men. In a new study 80 healthy men between the ages of 22 and 80 were studied for sperm quality. Those participating in the study who were over the age of 44 and consumed the greatest amount of Vitamin C had 20 percent less DNA damage in their sperm than the control group of the same age who consumed the least amount of Vitamin C. This same finding was also true for Vitamin E, Zinc and Folate.
Through this study it was determined that men may be at an increased risk for sperm DNA damage as they get older, but that they can actively do something about this through the use of supplements.

Year after year, there are greater numbers of men and women who are putting off child birth until they are over 35 years of age. There are greater health concerns associated with conceiving in this age group. A recent study, for example, linked an increased risk for autism and schizophrenia to infants of older men. In addition it was been discovered that older men are less fertile than their younger counterparts and have an increased number of chromosomally defective pregnancies. While this information has been known about older women attempting and achieving conception for years, the studies for men are relatively newer.

The new information linking Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Folate to an increase in sperm quality is good news for men in this age group and suggests the need for additional studies on the affect of antioxidants on fertility as well as the risk for genetically defective pregnancies across the board. Can an increase in micronutrients result in healthier offspring with a decrease in genetic problems? The results are yet to be seen … but FoodFacts.com thinks that it can’t hurt any man over 40 who’s looking to embrace fatherhood to up their intake of C, E, Zinc and Folate. The answer to men beating their biological clocks may just be waiting for them at their local health food store! That would certainly be worth the trip!

Read more at http://www.counselheal.com/articles/2678/20120827/sperm-quality-improved-by-healthy-nutrition.htm#juB7XBlviiHvLTB9.99