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Zinc Produces Superior Eggs for Healthier Children

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Wellness Resources
September 28, 2012
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist


Several new studies show how important zinc is to reproductive health. These studies indicate that zinc may aid in the creation of a superior quality egg that is more likely to be fertilized and produce a healthy child, as well as improve the future cardiovascular health of your child.

Researchers measured the concentration of zinc1 and other minerals in a maturing egg and found that zinc was by far the most important nutrient relating to the process of producing a good egg that will make a healthy embryo. In fact, eggs require a 50 percent surge in zinc uptake before they can be fertilized. In other words, no zinc, no baby.

“Zinc helps the egg exit from a holding pattern to its final critical stage of development,” said O’Halloran, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. “It’s on the knife’s edge of becoming a new life form or becoming a cell that dies. It only has 24 hours. Zinc seems to be a key switch that helps control whether the egg moves forward in its development stage.”

For years I have given zinc to women who said they had trouble getting pregnant, with a follow-up “thank you” phone call several months later. This science proves the point.

Zinc works in hundreds of enzymes that relate to growth and metabolism. While a woman may have enough zinc to become pregnant a very important question is: Does she have adequate zinc to give her child a best chance at future health? Another new study shows the extreme importance of this topic.

In this animal study researchers tested the effects of zinc deficiency during pregnancy2 and lactation on the future health of kidneys and blood pressure regulation. They found that a lack of zinc in these earlier phases of life caused high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and poor kidney function later in life. While restoring zinc status later in life helped reduce triglycerides it could not fully correct the problems with poor kidney function that resulted in higher blood pressure.

This study shows that zinc adequacy during pregnancy and lactation helps optimize the growth and function of kidneys. If a person fails to take advantage of this during development, the kidneys will be a weak spot in metabolism as a person grows older, leading to high blood pressure and higher rates of kidney disease.

On the flip side of this coin, an earlier study showed that giving pregnant women 15 mg of zinc3 per day resulted in children who had better muscle development between ages 4 months and 12 months. This indicated that zinc adequacy during pregnancy has a profound affect on the thriving ability of an infant.

Another animal study showed that zinc supplementation4guarded against the adverse effects of alcohol during pregnancy, including still births and mortality in early life. This is a significant finding. Similarly, another study illustrates how zinc protects against damage to the digestive tract5 from alcohol. This is especially important since a young woman who is consuming alcohol may not know she is pregnant.

Collectively, these studies point to the extreme importance of zinc adequacy before, during, and following pregnancy. Its use could have a profound effect on the future health of our nation.

Referenced Studies:

1. Zinc is Needed for Healthy Eggs Chemical Biology 1.Alison M Kim, Stefan Vogt, Thomas V O’Halloran & Teresa K Woodruff.

2. zinc deficiency during pregnancy

3. Zinc During Pregnancy Optimizes Infant Growth American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Lora L Iannotti, Nelly Zavaleta, Zulema León, Anuraj H Shankar and Laura E Caulfield.

4. Zinc Protects Against Alcohol Toxicity During Pregnancy Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Brooke L. Summers, Allan M. Rofe, and Peter Coyle.

5. Zinc Protects Against Alcohol-Induced Intestinal Damage Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. Arda-Pirincci P, Bilgin-Sokmen B, Yanardag R, Bolkent S.

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