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Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2013;64(2):97-104.

Dietary intakes of iron and zinc assessed in a selected group of the elderly: are they adequate?

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Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.



Many studies demonstrate that the elderly consume a nutritionally inadequate diet that includes deficiencies in macro- and microelements; iron and zinc being significant examples of the former.


To assess the adequacy of dietary iron and zinc intakes in the elderly.


The study was conducted on n = 102 elderly persons, participating in the PolSenior Project, aged over 65, of which 44 were women and 58 men. Consumption data were collected by using 3 day dietary record from which a usual intakes of energy, macroelements (iron and zinc) were calculated. The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) cut point and z-scores methods were used to determine probabilities of whether iron and zinc uptake was adequate per subject.


By using the EAR cut-point method it was stated that iron intake was inadequate for 5% of respondents, whereas 44% showed deficits in zinc (34% women and 52% men). The z-scores demonstrated that 3% of subjects had high probabilities of deficiencies in iron and 52% in zinc. Indeed, very high zinc deficiencies were observed in 20% of cases.


The insufficient energy intake observed among respondents contributes to a high risk of zinc deficiency necessary to ensure health in the elderly. In most cases, the low risk of iron deficiency shows that there is no need to increase this nutrient uptake in the examined group of elderly. The study highlights the need for educating the elderly, especially focused on improving zinc intake without changing iron intake. It can be done through appropriate dietary choices so as to include products such as dairy products, wheat bran, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and nuts.

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