Mild Zinc Deficiency in Human Subjects

  • K. M. Hambidge
Part of the ILSI Human Nutrition Reviews book series (ILSI HUMAN)


The controversies and uncertainties associated with “mild” zinc deficiency in human subjects are as evident today as at any time in the 30-year interval since the possibility that alcoholic cirrhosis may be associated with a secondary zinc deficiency state was first suggested (Vallee et al. 1957). Incidentally, continuing uncertainties about the interrelationship between alcoholic cirrhosis and zinc nutritional status can serve very effectively to illustrate the extraordinary difficulties still encountered by investigators in this field. That profound alterations in zinc metabolism occur in alcoholic liver disease and other hepatic disorders (Hambidge et al. 1987) is not in question. However, whether or not these changes in metabolism are associated with, or lead to, impaired zinc nutriture remains controversial. On the one hand, it has been reported that the characteristic hyperzincuria is not associated with negative zinc balance because of a corresponding increase in zinc absorption from the gastrointestinal tract (Milman et al. 1983). On the other hand, there have been case reports of zinc-responsive “acrodermatitis enteropathica syndromes” with severe hypozincaemia in association with alcoholic cirrhosis (Ilchyshyn and Mendelsohn 1982); these extreme examples of acute, severe zinc deficiency occur only in very special circumstances and are considered to represent indisputable proof of clinically significant zinc deficiency.


Zinc Deficiency Zinc Supplementation Zinc Intake Dietary Zinc Plasma Zinc Concentration 
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