dna iconThe Role of Zinc in Down’s Syndrome


The Role of Zinc in Down’s Syndrome

Eastland Roxanne 2001


This paper considers a single nutrient, zinc, and its place in supporting people with Down’s syndrome. The importance of zinc is suggested by the many disease states found in DS that have also been observed in subjects with zinc deficiency. These include diabetes mellitus, dwarfism, hypogonadism, atherosclerosis, vitamin A deficiency night blindness, cirrhosis of the liver, myeloid leukaemia (Milunsky, 1970), and hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism (Napolitano et al, 1990). Fabris et al (1993) cite the importance of zinc in the homeostatic networks found to be altered in DS, namely nervous, neuroendocrine and immune, and their interrelationship, plus a reduced turnover of this mineral, leading to the hypothesis that zinc deficiency could be implicated in at least some of the DS phenotype.

“Zinc forms part of the composition of at least 160 different enzymes. Indeed, zinc is the most widely used mineral in enzymes” (Graham and Odent, 1986).

It is vital for protein, essential fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism, and for DNA synthesis, and can be used to detoxify lead and mercury (ibid.). The body only has a small pool of biologically available zinc, and a rapid turnover, meaning that deficiency signs appear very quickly (Passwater and Cranton, 1983).

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