Zinc as a Biomarker of Nutritional Status

Zinc is needed for several metabolic processes as a regulatory, or catalytic ion. Zinc homeostasis is regulated for sustaining metabolic functions over a wide range of zinc intakes; therefore, it is difficult to assess lack or excess of zinc. The BOND Zinc Expert Panel recommends three measurements for estimating zinc status: dietary zinc intake, plasma zinc concentration (PZC), and height-for-age in infants and children (King et al. 2016). PZCs respond to severe dietary zinc restriction and to zinc supplementation; they also change with shifts in whole-body zinc balance and clinical signs of zinc deficiency. PZC cutoffs are available for identifying individuals and populations at risk of zinc deficiency. However, there are limitations in using the PZC to assess zinc status as it respond less to additional zinc provided in food than to a supplement administered between meals, there is considerable interindividual variation in PZCs with changes in dietary zinc, and PZCs are influenced by the time of day, inflammation, and certain drugs.

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