Trace elements and cardiovascular diseases.


Anderson RA




Acta Pharmacol Toxicol


Evidence linking marginal intakes of the trace elements, chromium, copper, zinc and selenium, with abnormal lipid metabolism and ultimately cardiovascular diseases is accumulating from both animal and human studies. Chromium supplementation of normal adult men, as well as diabetics, has been reported to increase high density lipoprotein cholesterol and decrease triglycerides and total cholesterol. Subjects with the highest total cholesterol and triglycerides usually respond the most to supplemental chromium. Improvements in lipid metabolism, as well as those in glucose metabolism, appear to be related to improvements in insulin efficiency due likely to increased receptor number. Animal studies also indicate that improvements in serum cholesterol, aortic lipids and plaque formations due to supplemental chromium are associated with decreased circulating insulin. Insufficient dietary copper also leads to elevated lipid levels and impaired heart function. Animal studies indicate an obvious degradation of the heart muscles. Zinc appears to function in cardiovascular diseases primarily via its antagonism with copper. Selenium may also affect cardiovascular diseases since selenium is postulated to be involved in platelet aggregation. These data demonstrate that the trace elements, chromium, copper, and selenium, have beneficial effects on risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases suggesting that a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease may be achieved by adequate intake of trace elements.