Fractional Zinc Absorption for Men, Women, and Adolescents Is Overestimated in the Current Dietary Reference Intakes1,2

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Abstract

Background:

The fractional zinc absorption values used in the current Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for zinc were based on data from published studies. However, the inhibitory effect of phytate was underestimated because of the low phytate content of the diets in the studies used.

Objective:

The objective of this study was to estimate the fractional absorption of dietary zinc from the US diet by using 2 published algorithms.

Methods:

Nutrient intake data were obtained from the NHANES 2009–2010 and the corresponding Food Patterns Equivalents Database. Data were analyzed with the use of R software by taking into account the complex survey design. The International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (IZiNCG; Brown et al. Food Nutr Bull 2004;25:S99–203) and Miller et al. (Br J Nutr 2013;109:695–700) models were used to estimate zinc absorption.

Results:

Geometric means (95% CIs) of zinc absorption for all subjects were 30.1% (29.9%, 30.2%) or 31.3% (30.9%, 31.6%) with the use of the IZiNCG model and Miller et al. model, respectively. For men, women, and adolescents, absorption values obtained in this study with the use of the 2 models were 27.2%, 31.4%, and 30.1%, respectively, for the IZiNCG model and 28.0%, 33.0%, and 31.6%, respectively, for the Miller et al. model, compared with the 41%, 48%, and 40%, respectively, used in the current DRIs. For preadolescents, estimated absorption values (31.1% and 32.8% for the IZiNCG model and Miller et al. model, respectively) compare well with the conservative estimate of 30% used in the DRIs. When the new estimates of zinc absorption were applied to the current DRI values for men and women, the results suggest that the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) and RDA for these groups need to be increased by nearly one-half of the current values in order to meet their requirements for absorbed zinc.

Conclusions:

These data suggest that zinc absorption is overestimated for men, women, and adolescents in the current DRI. Upward adjustments of the DRI for these groups are recommended.

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