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Zinc necessary for eggs to develop into healthy embryos

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: zinc, fertility, health news

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(NaturalNews) Researchers from Northwestern University near Chicago have been researching what makes certain human eggs turn into healthy embryos when other eggs do not. Based on findings thus far, high levels of zinc seem to be the deciding factor that spurs an egg to full and healthy development.

"Zinc helps the egg exit from a holding pattern to its final critical stage of development," explained Tom O'Halloran, director of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern and co-senior author of a paper on the subject that will soon be published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

"Zince seems to be a key switch that helps control whether the egg moves forward in its development stage," he said further.

In mice, researchers were able to observe considerable concentrations of zinc in the healthiest eggs. In fact, the team actually observed an intense desire in the eggs for zinc, which increases in concentration by about 50 percent during the final stages of the eggs' development.

Eggs also need zinc in order to complete meiosis, the period of development during which eggs shed all but one copy of their maternal chromosomes so they can be fertilized by sperm and become healthy embryos.

The research is part of a quest to help fertility experts be better able to choose the best eggs for use in fertility treatments. By better understanding zinc's important role in egg development, experts will also be better equipped to properly advice pregnant women on how to obtain high levels of this vital nutrient.

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