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J Nutr. 2010 Dec;140(12):2221-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.120717. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Red meat and a fortified manufactured toddler milk drink increase dietary zinc intakes without affecting zinc status of New Zealand toddlers.

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  • 1Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Evidence suggests that New Zealand (NZ) children are mildly zinc deficient and may respond to dietary change. A 20-wk randomized intervention trial was therefore conducted to determine whether an increased intake of red meat or consumption of a fortified manufactured toddler milk drink (FTMD, fortified with zinc and other micronutrients) would increase dietary zinc intakes and improve the biochemical zinc status of 12- to 20-mo-old NZ toddlers. Toddlers were randomized to a red meat intervention (n = 90), FTMD intervention (n = 45), or nonfortified milk placebo (n = 90). Study foods were provided. Adherence was assessed via monthly 7-d meat or milk recording diaries. Hair and serum zinc concentrations, and length and weight were measured at baseline and postintervention. Nutrient intakes were assessed via 3-d weighed food records at baseline, wk 4, and wk 18. At baseline, 38% of participants had low serum zinc concentrations despite seemingly adequate dietary zinc intakes (<4% below the Estimated Average Requirement). Dietary zinc intakes significantly increased by 0.8 mg/d (95% CI: 0.5, 1.1) in the meat group and 0.7 mg/d (95% CI: 0.2, 1.1) in the FTMD group compared with a decrease of -0.5 (95% CI: -0.8, -0.2) mg/d in the placebo group. No corresponding increases in serum or hair zinc concentrations were observed. Dietary zinc intakes achievable via interventions based on red meat or a FTMD are unlikely to improve biochemical zinc status in NZ toddlers. These results also question cutoffs used to define zinc deficiency in toddlers.

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