Zinc Deficiency And Its Association With Diabetes

This is an Excerpt from diabetes book, "Reverse Your Type 2 Diabetes, Scientifically." Copyright © All rights reserved.

We are facing an Epidemic of Zinc Deficiency with its horrendous health consequences. Zinc is an essential trace element that exists in all cells and is required by thousands of chemical reactions in the body. Zinc is involved in the synthesis, storage and secretion of insulin, as well as insulin action. Zinc is also a strong antioxidant. 

            Several animal studies have shown Zinc deficiency to be associated with high risk of Type 2 as well as Type 1 diabetes, but there are very few human studies. In one such study (1), researchers investigated the relationship between dietary intake of Zinc, and diabetes and coronary artery disease in 1769 rural individuals and 1806 urban individuals in India. The authors concluded that low dietary zinc was associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and coronary artery disease in urban subjects only.

            In another study (2), "Nurses' Health Study,"  in which 82,297 women in the USA were followed for 24 years, researchers concluded that  higher Zinc intake may be associated with a slightly lower risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.

            In addition to low dietary intake, Type 2 diabetics also have increased urinary loss of Zinc if their diabetes is not controlled. 

Can Zinc Supplementation Help Type 2 Diabetes? 

            In an animal study (3), researchers gave Zinc orally to Type 2 diabetic mice for 4 weeks. They observed a significant improvement in blood glucose level as well as a reduction in insulin resistance. In addition, Zinc treatment caused weight loss and a decrease in high blood pressure (hypertension) in these mice. In another study (4), Zinc supplementation was shown to alleviate diabetic peripheral neuropathy in diabetic rats. 

            How about human studies? In one study (5), authors analyzed all of the published studies in humans for the effects of Zinc supplementation on diabetes and cholesterol. Compared to a placebo, Zinc supplementation caused a mean drop of 18.13mg/dl in fasting blood glucose,  34.87mg/dl in 2-hour post-meal blood glucose, and a 0.54% reduction in HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1C).  In addition, Zinc supplementation caused a mean decrease of 11.19mg/dl in LDL cholesterol. Studies also showed a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressures after Zinc supplementation. 

            In addition, Zinc is also important to fight off infections (such as common colds, pneumonia, diarrhea), heal wounds and prevent/treat AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration.)           

Who Is At Risk For Zinc Deficiency? 

            Thiazide diuretics: the mechanism is increased urinary losses of Zinc.          

            Antibiotics such as Cipro, Levaquin, tetracyclines. The mechanism is interference with intestinal absorption. Zinc    can interfere with the absorption of these antibiotics.      Therefore, take these antibiotics on an empty stomach to minimize this interaction.           

            Iron supplements can interfere with the absorption of Zinc in food. Therefore, take iron between meals,  but not with meals.

Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency

            Zinc deficiency causes non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, impaired immune function, delayed healing of wounds, diarrhea, hair loss, taste abnormalities, skin ulcers, age-related macular degeneration, delayed puberty, impotence, low testosterone and weight loss. Remember, these symptoms can occur due to many other medical conditions as well.

            Zinc level in the blood is the most commonly used test to evaluate Zinc deficiency. However, blood level of Zinc does not necessarily reflects the tissue level. Therefore, Zinc deficiency may be present while the blood test may be within the normal range.

            Zinc deficiency is basically a clinical diagnosis. Consult with your doctor in this regard. 

How Much Zinc?

            The recommended daily dose of Zinc for adults is 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females. Tolerable upper levels are 40 mg per day, both for males and females. 

Good Dietary Sources Of Zinc 

            The best way to get your Zinc is through selecting foods which are not only high in Zinc, but also good for your diabetes.  

Seafood: Oysters (cooked), Crab, Lobster 

Meats: Beef, lamb, chicken and pork 

Plants: wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, nuts, especially cashews. 

Cooked oysters have the highest quantities of Zinc, followed by wheat germ (roasted), beef, pumpkin seeds and cashews. 

Please note that whole-grain breads, cereals and legumes contain substances called phytates which bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Therefore, the best sources of Zinc are animal based foods such as beef, chicken and seafood. 

Caution: Breakfast cereals are fortified with Zinc, but these are not good for your diabetes. 

Zinc Supplements

            If you cannot get enough Zinc through your diet for one reason or another, then consider Zinc supplements. Various forms are available such as Zinc gluconate, Zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Zinc lozenges and nasal sprays are available for "common colds." Avoid nasal sprays, as these can cause lack of smell sensation, which can be permanent.

Zinc glycinate is a chelated formulation and appear to have an excellent absorption. The label on the bottle will provide dosing information.

Zinc Toxicity 

            Too much Zinc can cause toxicity. Acute toxicity causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Excess Zinc intake (more than 60 mg per day) on a chronic basis can cause copper deficiency, which can manifest as anemia and neurologic symptoms.


Zinc and Copper work in concert in your cells. Excess Zinc intake (more than 60 mg per day) on a chronic basis can cause copper deficiency, which can manifest as anemia and neurologic symptoms. Therefore, it makes sense to take a Zinc supplement that also contains Copper.


1. Singh RB1, Niaz MA, Rastogi SS, Bajaj S, Gaoli Z, Shoumin Z. Current zinc intake and risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease and factors associated with insulin resistance in rural and urban populations of North India. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998 Dec;17(6):564-70.

2. Sun Q1, van Dam RM, Willett WC, Hu FB. Prospective study of zinc intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2009 Apr;32(4):629-34 

3. Adachi Y1, Yoshida J, Kodera Y, Kiss T, Jakusch T, Enyedy EA, Yoshikawa Y, Sakurai H. Oral administration of a zinc complex improves type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndromes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Dec 8;351(1):165-70. 

4. Liu F1, Ma F, Kong G, Wu K, Deng Z, Wang H. Zinc supplementation alleviates diabetic peripheral neuropathy by inhibiting oxidative stress and upregulating metallothionein in peripheral nerves of diabetic rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2014 May;158(2):211-8. 

5. Jayawardena R1, Ranasinghe P, Galappatthy P, Malkanthi R, Constantine G, Katulanda P. Effects of zinc supplementation on diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2012 Apr 19;4(1):13. doi: 10.1186/1758-5996-4-13.

Excerpts from "Reverse Your Type 2 Diabetes, Scientifically."

Warnings – Disclaimer: This website is for educational purposes only. The information as well dietary supplements in this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dietary supplements are Not intended for use by pregnant or nursing women. If you are taking any medications, planning any medical or surgical procedure or have any medical condition, consult your doctor before using any of the supplements. Discontinue use and consult your doctor if any adverse reactions occur. Keep out of reach of children. Do not use if outer wrap is missing or torn. Store at room temperature.


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Zinc as Zinc glycinate for high absorption

Copper as Copper glycinate for high absorption

Each bottle contains 60 Tablets

Regular Price = $ 35.95 per bottle

Sale Price = $ 19.95 per bottle