A Review of Dietary Zinc Recommendations

Gibson, Rosalind, King, Janet and Lowe, Nicola M orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6934-2768 (2016) A Review of Dietary Zinc Recommendations. Food and Nutrition Bulletin . ISSN 0379-5721

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0379572116652252


Background. Large discrepancies exist among the dietary zinc recommendations set by expert groups.

Objective. To understand the basis for the differences in the dietary zinc recommendations set by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group, and the European Food Safety Agency.

Methods. We compared the sources of the data, the concepts, and methods used by the four expert groups to set the physiological requirements for absorbed zinc, the dietary zinc requirements (termed estimated and/or average requirements), recommended dietary allowances (or recommended nutrient intakes or population reference intakes), and tolerable upper intake levels for selected age, sex, and life-stage groups.

Results. All four expert groups used the factorial approach to estimate the physiological requirements for zinc. These are based on the estimates of absorbed zinc required to offset all obligatory zinc losses plus any additional requirements for absorbed zinc for growth, pregnancy, or lactation. However, discrepancies exist in the reference body weights used, studies selected, approaches to estimate endogenous zinc losses, the adjustments applied to derive dietary zinc requirements that take into account zinc bioavailability in the habitual diets, number of dietary zinc recommendations set, and the nomenclature used to describe them.

Conclusions. Estimates for the physiological and dietary requirements varied across the four expert groups. The European Food Safety Agency was the only expert group that set dietary zinc recommendations at four different levels of dietary phytate for adults (but not for children) and as yet no tolerable upper intake level for any life-stage group.

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