Measurement of zinc bioavailability from beef and a ready-to-eat high-fiber breakfast cereal in humans: application of a whole-gut lavage technique

Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Dec;58(6):902-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/58.6.902.


We measured zinc absorption in humans from two different foods, using a whole-gut lavage technique. Healthy adults (n = 8) were given test foods containing approximately 4 mg (61.2 mumol) Zn as either beef or a high-fiber, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. Basal zinc loss in the gut was measured after giving only 200 mL water alone after an overnight fast. Mean polyethylene glycol (PEG) recovery, a nonabsorbable fecal marker, was 95 +/- 2% (mean +/- SE). There was no significant difference of PEG recoveries with the various treatments. True absorption of zinc was 11.0 +/- 5.4 mumol (716.3 +/- 355.9 micrograms) for breakfast cereal and 34.8 +/- 3.5 mumol (2274.1 +/- 230.2 micrograms) for beef. Fractional zinc absorption was significantly lower for breakfast cereal compared with beef, 14.7 +/- 6.7% vs 55.1 +/- 4.6%, respectively. Our findings demonstrate that zinc absorption can be measured in humans from single foods containing a physiological dose of zinc by using the whole-gut lavage absorption technique and that zinc bioavailability from beef is about fourfold greater than from a high-fiber breakfast cereal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Availability
  • Dietary Fiber / analysis
  • Edible Grain* / chemistry
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Iron / analysis
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Phytic Acid / analysis
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Zinc / analysis
  • Zinc / pharmacokinetics*


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Phytic Acid
  • Iron
  • Zinc