Mild Zinc Deficiency “Common” in the US
Zinc deficiency affects more than 2 billion people in both developing and developed nations.49 Moreover, zinc and iron deficits often go hand in hand.
A diet lacking adequate sources of bioavailable zinc (such as red meat) and high in dietary fiber (vegetarian or grain-based diets) carries a double risk of zinc deficiency. Certain dietary fibers, calcium, and phytates (present in cereal products, legumes, and nuts) effectively block zinc absorption, while lack of beef (the richest natural source of zinc) leads to an inadequate dietary supply of this essential nutrient. Because beef is also the best source of bioavailable iron (except for certain artificially fortified foods), low zinc and low iron often occur simultaneously. Low iron in the bloodstream leads to iron-deficiency anemia, characterized by listlessness in adults and physical and neurological abnormalities in young children.50,51
According to University of Texas researcher Harold Sandstead, data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) suggest that “mild [zinc] deficiency is . . . common in the US.”52 It may well be important, therefore, to supplement one’s diet with zinc on a daily basis. The Institute of Medicine has established a zinc RDA value for men of 11 mg/day. For women, the RDA ranges from 8 mg/day for healthy adult women to 14 mg/day for lactating women. Alcoholism and chronic diarrhea may seriously deplete zinc stores, and evidence suggests that the elderly suffer zinc deficiency more commonly than younger adults.53
Long-term supplementation with high levels of zinc may deplete copper levels.54 Thus, individuals supplementing with zinc may need to supplement concomitantly with copper.
Overwhelming scientific evidence from around the world underscores the critical importance of zinc to human health. Given this preponderance of evidence indicating zinc’s utter indispensability to health—and the widespread prevalence of zinc deficiency—it is prudent to include this potent micronutrient in one’s daily vitamin/mineral regimen.
1. Grungreiff K, Reinhold D. Liver cirrhosis and “liver” diabetes mellitus are linked by zinc deficiency. Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(2):316-7.
2. Prasad AS. Zinc: the biology and therapeutics of an ion. Ann Intern Med. 1996 Jul 15;125(2):142-4.
3. Kasperczyk S, Birkner E, Kasperczyk A, Zalejska-Fiolka J. Activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase in people protractedly exposed to lead compounds. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2004;11(2):291-6.
4. Kocaturk PA, Kavas GO, Erdeve O, Siklar Z. Superoxide dismutase activity and zinc and copper concentrations in growth retardation. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2004;102(1-3):51-9.
5. Landis GN, Tower J. Superoxide dismutase evolution and life span regulation. Mech Ageing Dev. 2005 Mar;126(3):365-79.
6. Ames BN. DNA damage from micronutrient deficiencies is likely to be a major cause of cancer. Mutat Res. 2001 Apr 18;475(1-2):7-20.
7. Noor R, Mittal S, Iqbal J. Superoxide dismutase—applications and relevance to human diseases. Med Sci Monit. 2002 Sep;8(9):RA210-5.
8. Kato S, Saeki Y, Aoki M, et al. Histological evidence of redox system breakdown caused by superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) aggregation is common to SOD1-mutated motor neurons in humans and animal models. Acta Neuropathol (Berl). 2004 Feb;107(2):149-58.
9. Olin KL, Golub MS, Gershwin ME, et al. Extracellular superoxide dismutase activity is affected by dietary zinc intake in nonhuman primate and rodent models. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6):1263-7.
10. Kiefer D. Superoxide dismutase: boosting the body’s primary antioxidant defense. Life Extension. June, 2006:72-8.
11. Raqib R, Roy SK, Rahman MJ, et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on immune and inflammatory responses in pediatric patients with shigellosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):444-50.
12. Bogden JD. Influence of zinc on immunity in the elderly. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(1):48-54.
13. Field CJ, Johnson IR, Schley PD. Nutrients and their role in host resistance to infection. J Leukoc Biol. 2002 Jan;71(1):16-32.
14. Chandra RK. Impact of nutritional status and nutrient supplements on immune responses and incidence of infection in older individuals. Ageing Res Rev. 2004 Jan;3(1):91-104.
15. Fraker PJ, King LE. Reprogramming of the immune system during zinc deficiency. Annu Rev Nutr. 2004;24:277-98.
16. Fraker PJ, King LE, Laakko T, Vollmer TL. The dynamic link between the integrity of the immune system and zinc status. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1399S-406S.
17. Lim Y, Levy M, Bray TM. Dietary zinc alters early inflammatory responses during cutaneous wound healing in weanling CD-1 mice. J Nutr. 2004 Apr;134(4):811-6.
18. Patrick L. Nutrients and HIV: part two—vitamins A and E, zinc, B-vitamins, and magnesium. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Feb;5(1):39-51.
19. Mitchell WA, Meng I, Nicholson SA, Aspinall R. Thymic output, aging and zinc. Biogerontology. 2006 Sep 9; [Epub ahead of print]
20. Herbein G, Varin A, Fulop T. NF-kappaB, AP-1, Zinc-deficiency and aging. Biogerontology. 2006 Sep 9; [Epub ahead of print].
21. Philpott M, Ferguson LR. Immunonutrition and cancer. Mutat Res. 2004 Jul 13;551(1-2):29-42.
22. Fong LY, Zhang L, Jiang Y, Farber JL. Dietary zinc modulation of COX-2 expression and lingual and esophageal carcinogenesis in rats. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Jan 5;97(1):40-50.
23. Mossad SB, Macknin ML, Medendorp SV, Mason P. Zinc gluconate lozenges for treating the common cold. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Ann Intern Med. 1996 Jul 15;125(2):81-8.
24. Hulisz D. Efficacy of zinc against common cold viruses: an overview. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash.DC.). 2004 Sep;44(5):594-603.
25. Anzueto A, Niederman MS. Diagnosis and treatment of rhinovirus respiratory infections. Chest. 2003 May;123(5):1664-72.
26. Eby GA. Zinc lozenges: cold cure or candy? Solution chemistry determinations. Biosci Rep. 2004 Feb;24(1):23-39.
27. McElroy BH, Miller SP. An open-label, single-center, phase IV clinical study of the effectiveness of zinc gluconate glycine lozenges (Cold-Eeze) in reducing the duration and symptoms of the common cold in school-aged subjects. Am J Ther. 2003 Sep;10(5):324-9.
28. McElroy BH, Miller SP. Effectiveness of zinc gluconate glycine lozenges (Cold-Eeze) against the common cold in school-aged subjects: a retrospective chart review. Am J Ther. 2002 Nov;9(6):472-5.
29. Prasad AS, Fitzgerald JT, Bao B, Beck FW, Chandrasekar PH. Duration of symptoms and plasma cytokine levels in patients with the common cold treated with zinc acetate. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2000 Aug 15;133(4):245-52.
30. Suara RO, Crowe JE, Jr. Effect of zinc salts on respiratory syncytial virus replication. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Mar;48(3):783-90.
31. Osendarp SJ, West CE, Black RE. The need for maternal zinc supplementation in developing countries: an unresolved issue. J Nutr. 2003 Mar;133(3):817S-27S.
32. Surjawidjaja JE, Hidayat A, Lesmana M. Growth inhibition of enteric pathogens by zinc sulfate: an in vitro study. Med Princ Pract. 2004 Sep;13(5):286-9.
33. Makonnen B, Venter A, Joubert G. A randomized controlled study of the impact of dietary zinc supplementation in the management of children with protein-energy malnutrition in Lesotho. I: Mortality and morbidity. J Trop Pediatr. 2003 Dec;49(6):340-52.
34. Sinha R. National seminar on importance of zinc in human health. Indian Pediatr. 2004 Dec;41(12):1213-7.
35. Bhatnagar S and Natchu UC. Zinc in child health and disease. Indian J Pediatr. 2004 Nov;71(11):991-995.
36. Salgueiro MJ, Weill R, Zubillaga M, et al. Zinc deficiency and growth: current concepts in relationship to two important points: intellectual and sexual development. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2004;99(1-3):49-69.
37. Wasantwisut E. Nutrition and development: other micronutrients’ effect on growth and cognition. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 1997;28 Suppl 2:78-82.
38. Wagner PA, Bailey LB, Christakis GJ, Dinning JS. Serum zinc concentrations in adolescents as related to sexual maturation. Hum Nutr Clin Nutr. 1985 Nov;39(6):459-62.
39. Gibson RS, Heath AL, Ferguson EL. Risk of suboptimal iron and zinc nutriture among adolescent girls in Australia and New Zealand: causes, consequences, and solutions. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2002;11 Suppl 3S543-52.
40. Golub MS, Takeuchi PT, Keen CL, Hendrickx AG, Gershwin ME. Activity and attention in zinc-deprived adolescent monkeys. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Dec;64(6):908-15.
41. Golub MS, Keen CL, Gershwin ME, et al. Adolescent growth and maturation in zinc-deprived rhesus monkeys [see comment]. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Sep;64(3):274-82.
42. Brown KH, Peerson JM, Rivera J, Allen LH. Effect of supplemental zinc on the growth and serum zinc concentrations of prepubertal children: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jun;75(6):1062-71.
43. Imamoglu S, Bereket A, Turan S, Taga Y, Haklar G. Effect of zinc supplementation on growth hormone secretion, IGF-I, IGFBP-3, somatomedin generation, alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin and growth in prepubertal children with idiopathic short stature. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jan;18(1):69-74.
44. Henkel R, Bittner J, Weber R, Huther F, Miska W. Relevance of zinc in human sperm flagella and its relation to motility. Fertil Steril. 1999 Jun;71(6):1138-43.
45. Mohan H, Verma J, Singh I, et al. Inter-relationship of zinc levels in serum and semen in oligospermic infertile patients and fertile males. Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 1997 Oct;40(4):451-5.
46. Chia SE, Ong CN, Chua LH, Ho LM, Tay SK. Comparison of zinc concentrations in blood and seminal plasma and the various sperm parameters between fertile and infertile men. J Androl. 2000 Jan;21(1):53-7.
47. Robak-Cholubek D, Jakiel G, Bakalczuk S, Bokiniec M. Zinc levels in seminal plasma and sperm density. Ginekol Pol. 1998 Jun;69(6):490-3.
48. Kienast A, Roth B, Bossier C, Hojabri C, Hoeger PH. Zinc-deficiency dermatitis in breast-fed infants. Eur J Pediatr. 2006 Sep 8; [Epub ahead of print].
49. Sandstead HH, Frederickson CJ, Penland JG. History of zinc as related to brain function. J Nutr. 2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):496S-502S.
50. Castejon HV, Ortega P, Amaya D, et al. Co-existence of anemia, vitamin A deficiency and growth retardation among children 24-84 months old in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Nutr Neurosci. 2004 Apr;7(2):113-9.
51. Zlotkin SH, Christofides AL, Hyder SM, et al. Controlling iron deficiency anemia through the use of home-fortified complementary foods. Indian J Pediatr. 2004 Nov;71(11):1015-9.
52. Alaimo K, McDowell MA, Briefel RR, et al. Dietary intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber of persons ages 2 months and over in the United States: Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Phase 1, 1988-91. Adv Data. 1994 Nov 14;(258):1-28.
53. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/cc/zinc.html#rda. Accessed September 26, 2006.
54. Willis MS, Monaghan SA, Miller ML, et al. Zinc-induced copper deficiency: a report of three cases initially recognized on bone marrow examination. Am J Clin Pathol. 2005 Jan;123(1):125-31.