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J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2009;23(3):183-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2009.03.007. Epub 2009 May 7.

Dietary intake of nickel and zinc by young children--results from food duplicate portion measurements in comparison to data calculated from dietary records and available data on levels in food groups.

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Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Abteilung für Hygiene, Sozial- und Umweltmedizin, Universitätsstrasse 150, D-44801 Bochum, Germany.


The daily dietary intake of nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn) by 42 young children, 21 boys and 21 girls, from 4 to 7 years of age, living in urban and rural areas of Germany and having different food consumption behaviour, was determined by the duplicate method with a 7-day sampling period. Dietary records were also kept by the children's parents for the 7-day sampling period. Individual reported food items were identified, assigned to food groups and, together with known Ni and Zn concentrations of foodstuffs, daily intake rates were calculated. The same method was used for calculations of the energy, fat, protein and carbohydrate intake rates. The levels in the food duplicates, determined by atomic absorption spectrometry, were in the range of 69-2000 microg Ni/kg(dry weight) (geometric mean (GM): 348) and 7.1-43 mg Zn/kg(dry weight) (GM: 17.5). Daily intake rates based on the 294 individual food duplicate analyses were 12-560 microgNi/d (GM: 92.3) and 1.5-11 mgZn/d (GM: 4.63). The results from the dietary records were 35-1050 microg Ni/d (GM: 123) and 1.7-15 mg Zn/d (GM: 5.35). The results of the daily intake rates from both methods showed a correlation with regard to Zn (r=0.56), but no correlation was found between either the Ni intake rates determined with both methods or between the Ni intake rates measured by the duplicate method and calculated intake rates from the dietary records of energy, fat, protein, carbohydrates or drinking water. In the case of nickel, the discrepancies between the methods lead one to suppose that the main factors influencing Ni intake by food are not directly caused by easily assessable food ingredients themselves. It is possible that other factors, such as contaminated drinking water or the transition of Ni from kettles or other household utensils made from stainless steel into the food, may be more relevant. In addition there are some foodstuffs with great variations in concentrations, often influenced by the growing area and environmental factors. Further, some food groups naturally high in Nickel like nuts, cocoa or teas might not have been kept sufficient within the records. In summary, the dietary record method gave sufficient results for Zn, but is insufficient for Ni. Based on the food duplicate analysis, children living in urban areas with consumption of food products from a family-owned garden or the surrounding area and/or products from domestic animals of the surrounding area had about one-third higher Ni levels in their food than children either living in an urban area or children consuming products exclusively from the supermarket. Only slight differences were found with regard to Zn. Compared to the recommendations of the German Society of Nutrition (DGE) (25-30 microgNi/d and 5.0 mgZn/d), the participants of the study had a clearly increased Ni and, in view of the geometric mean value, a nearly adequate Zn intake. Health risks are especially given with regard to the influence of nickel intake by food on dermatitis for nickel-sensitive individuals.

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