Zinc status and its requirement by rural adults consuming wheat from control or zinc-treated fields

  • Muhammad Ahsin
  • Shahid HussainEmail author
  • Zed Rengel
  • Mamoona Amir
Original Research


Human zinc (Zn) deficiency is prevalent in areas where cereals dominate in the diet. Soil Zn application may enhance the concentration of Zn in wheat grains and dietary Zn intake by target populations. However, its value has never been practically quantified in Zn nutrition of any population group. We, therefore, studied farming families in rural Punjab (Pakistan). The selected adults (n = 156, grouped based on age and gender) were Zn undernourished (as assessed by estimated Zn bioavailability in their diet) and their plasma Zn levels also indicated Zn deficiency. On average, wheat consumption by the adults contributed about 68% in total Zn and 93% in total phytate intakes. Soil Zn application to wheat fields significantly increased Zn and decreased phytate concentration in chapati (flatbread made of whole-wheat flour). From dietary phytate intakes by the adults, we calculated desired chapati Zn concentration and dietary Zn intake that would meet their daily Zn requirement. The physiological Zn requirements of adult women and men were estimated to be achieved by intake of, respectively, 10.4–15.3 mg Zn d−1 (37–46 mg Zn kg−1 in chapati) and 14.4–23.3 mg Zn d−1 (41–52 mg Zn kg−1 in chapati). It was evident that soil Zn application aiming at optimum grain yield of wheat significantly improved Zn nutrition of the studied adults, but not up to desired levels. High Zn applications (via soil and/or foliage) to wheat and growing cultivars specifically selected for Zn biofortification may be needed to optimise Zn nutrition in rural Pakistan.


Human zinc deficiency Pakistan RDI of Zn Soil Zn application Wheat-farming families Zinc biofortification 



This study was funded by Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan (Pakistan). We are also grateful to all the farmers and their family members who voluntarily participated in the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Ethics Committee of Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan (Pakistan), and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consents were obtained from all participants of the study.

Supplementary material

10653_2019_463_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material (DOCX 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and TechnologyBahauddin Zakariya UniversityMultanPakistan
  2. 2.National Institute of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Food, Nutrition and Home SciencesUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  3. 3.Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and TechnologyBahauddin Zakariya UniversityMultanPakistan
  4. 4.UWA, School of Agriculture and EnvironmentThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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