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Food Nutr Bull. 2009 Mar;30(1 Suppl):S5-11.

Recent advances in knowledge of zinc nutrition and human health.

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Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Zinc deficiency increases the risk and severity of a variety of infections, restricts physical growth, and affects specific outcomes of pregnancy. Global recognition of the importance of zinc nutrition in public health has expanded dramatically in recent years, and more experience has accumulated on the design and implementation of zinc intervention programs. Therefore, the Steering Committee of the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (IZiNCG) completed a second IZiNCG technical document that reexamines the latest information on the intervention strategies that have been developed to enhance zinc nutrition and control zinc deficiency. In particular, the document reviews the current evidence regarding preventive zinc supplementation and the role of zinc as adjunctive therapy for selected infections, zinc fortification, and dietary diversification or modification strategies, including the promotion and protection of breastfeeding and biofortification. The purposes of this introductory paper are to summarize new guidelines on the assessment of population zinc status, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and IZiNCG, and to provide an overview on several new advances in zinc metabolism. The following papers will then review the intervention strategies individually.

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