Lower zinc bioavailability may be related to higher risk of subclinical atherosclerosis in Korean adults

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 6;8(11):e80115. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080115. eCollection 2013.


Background: There is a proposed link between dietary zinc intake and atherosclerosis, but this relationship remains unclear. Phytate may contribute to this relationship by influencing zinc bioavailability.

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between zinc bioavailability and subclinical atherosclerosis in healthy Korean adults.

Materials and methods: The present cross-sectional analysis used baseline data from the Korean multi-Rural Communities Cohort Study (MRCohort), which is a part of The Korean Genome Epidemiology Study (KoGES). A total of 5,532 subjects (2,116 men and 3,416 women) aged 40 years and older were recruited from rural communities in South Korea between 2005 and 2010. Phytate:zinc molar ratio, estimated from a food-based food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) of 106 food items, was used to determine zinc bioavailability, and carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) and pulse wave velocity (PWV) were measured to calculate the subclinical atherosclerotic index.

Results: We found that phytate:zinc molar ratio is positively related to cIMT in men. A higher phytate:zinc molar ratio was significantly related to an increased risk of atherosclerosis in men, defined as the 80(th) percentile value of cIMT (5(th) vs. 1(st) quintile, OR = 2.11, 95% CI 1.42-3.15, P for trend = 0.0009), and especially in elderly men (5(th) vs. 1(st) quintile, OR = 2.58, 95% CI 1.52-4.37, P for trend = 0.0021). We found a positive relationship between phytate:zinc molar ratio and atherosclerosis risk among women aged 65 years or younger. Phytate:zinc molar ratio was not found to be related to PWV.

Conclusions: Lower zinc bioavailability may be related to higher atherosclerosis risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Biological Availability
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism
  • Republic of Korea
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Phytic Acid
  • Zinc

Grant support

This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (grant NRF-2012R1A1A2001930) and partially supported by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grants 2004-E71004-00, 2005-E71011-00, 2006-E71009-00, 2007-E71002-00, 2008-E71004-00, and 2009-E71006-00). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.