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D.iet & H.ealth : N.utrition Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Zinc and Exercise: A Closer Look
Jul 22, 2006, 13:27

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Scientists already know that our muscles need zinc, but a study from investigators at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Human Nutrition Research Center provides new details about the key role of a zinc-dependent enzyme called carbonic anhydrase.

Consuming less than the recommended amount of zinc reduces the enzyme's activity and makes the heart work harder, the researchers showed.

Healthy men in their 20s and 30s volunteered for the 9-week, low-zinc regimen and for another 9-week regimen in which they received the recommended amount of this essential nutrient.

Workouts during the low-zinc stint left volunteers panting as their hearts worked harder to carry carbon dioxide to the lungs, where it is exhaled.

That's a job the enzyme typically performs in red blood cells. During the low-zinc regimen, however, carbon dioxide backed up all the way to muscle cells.

That's in contrast to the volunteers' performance during the regimen in which they received the recommended amount of zinc. The study, reported in 2005, provides the first evidence that the carbon-dioxide-removing enzyme won't perform normally in people during exercise if body stores of zinc are too low (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, volume 81, pages 1045 to 1051).

Chicken, eggs, cheese, oysters, beef, beans and peanuts are rich in zinc.

For details contact: Henry C. Lukaski, (701) 795-8429; USDA-ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D. email:

Source: USDA-ARS

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