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In humans, zinc is involved in many biological functions acting as signaling ion, neurotransmitter, structural component of proteins, and cofactor for many enzymes and, through this, is an important regulator of the immune and nervous system. Food supplies zinc to the human body, but a high prevalence of inadequate dietary zinc intake has been reported worldwide. The objective of this study was to investigate the zinc intake and bioavailability of over 250 women (pregnant and non-pregnant) based in Ireland, in order to evaluate the dietary inadequacy of zinc. We used a food frequency questionnaire designed to assess the zinc intake and bioavailability of the participants. Our results show that 58% of participants are at risk of inadequate zinc intake and that 29% may be zinc deficient. The prevalence of inadequate zinc intake was lower for pregnant women (zinc deficient 9%, at risk 38%) than for non-pregnant women due to more frequent consumption of supplements. Low zinc intake was not correlated with the age of participants and resulted from a combination of inadequate intake of zinc-rich food and relatively higher intake of food items rich in phytate, a major zinc uptake inhibitor. We conclude that at present, low zinc intake may be prevalent in as much as 87% of women, including 47% of pregnant women. Therefore, zinc status needs to be considered as a factor impacting the health of women, and in particular pregnant women, also in industrialized and developed countries such as Ireland. © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.


Chiara A De Benedictis, Sarah Trame, Lothar Rink, Andreas M Grabrucker. Prevalence of low dietary zinc intake in women and pregnant women in Ireland. Irish journal of medical science. 2023 Aug;192(4):1835-1845

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PMID: 36224463

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