Zinc deficiency: a special challenge

J Nutr. 2007 Apr;137(4):1101-5. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.4.1101.


In the development and testing of programs designed to improve complementary feeding globally, local nonfortified food-based solutions comprise an important strategy for the foreseeable future. These solutions are especially vital for the rural poor of less-developed countries. Zinc is notable among individual nutrients that have been designated as "problem" nutrients, adequate intake of which is difficult from complementary foods without fortification. This article considers the potential role of meat +/- liver in addressing this apparent problem. In a recent Colorado study, beef and cereal have been determined to be equally acceptable between age 5-7 mo as first and regular complementary foods. Average intake and absorption of Zn from beef by 7 mo of age, together with the modest intake/absorption of Zn from breast milk at that age, were adequate to meet average dietary and physiologic zinc requirements, respectively. Barriers to acceptability and availability of affordable meat are considered, but these are neither universal nor irresolvable in all populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Deficiency Diseases / diet therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Meat
  • Public Health
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc / pharmacokinetics
  • Zinc / physiology


  • Zinc