The use of dysprosium to measure endogenous zinc excretion in feces eliminates the necessity of complete fecal collections

J Nutr. 2010 Aug;140(8):1524-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.116889. Epub 2010 Jun 23.


The secretion of endogenous zinc (Zn) into the gut and subsequent excretion in the feces is understood to play a major role in maintaining Zn homeostasis in humans. Therefore, the measurement of endogenous Zn losses in the feces (EFZ) can be an important aspect of the study of Zn metabolism and homeostasis. The methods currently used to measure EFZ have the disadvantage of requiring complete fecal collections over multiple days. We have investigated the use of dysprosium (Dy), a nonabsorbable rare earth metal, in a method of determining EFZ that does not require complete fecal collections and permits the measurement of EFZ from several fecal samples. The method was evaluated using data from a study of free-living adult females in which Dy was administered 3-4 times/d over a period of 5 or 6 d to monitor completeness of fecal collections. The results did not differ from those obtained using an established isotope dilution method. We found that the measurement of the sample Dy:Zn ratio was useful for selecting samples for measurement. We conclude that the Dy method of determining EFZ is a valid and less burdensome alternative to current techniques.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dysprosium* / analysis
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Zinc / analysis*


  • Dysprosium
  • Zinc