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J Nutr. 2019 Jan 1;149(1):98-105. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy245.

Zinc Absorption from Micronutrient Powders Is Low in Bangladeshi Toddlers at Risk of Environmental Enteric Dysfunction and May Increase Dietary Zinc Requirements.

Author information

1
University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Nutrition, Aurora, CO.
2
International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Nutrition and Clinical Services Division, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Abstract

Background:

Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), a chronic inflammatory disorder of the small bowel, is suspected to impair absorption of micronutrients, including zinc.

Objective:

The objective of this study was to compare zinc absorption from micronutrient powder (MNP) over a range of zinc doses in young children screened for EED with use of the lactulose:mannitol ratio (L:M).

Methods:

Bangladeshi children aged 18-24 mo, grouped according to high and low L:M (≥0.09 and <0.09, respectively), were randomly assigned to MNP with 0, 5, 10, or 15 mg Zn/sachet (10 subjects per dose per L:M group). Over a day, fractional absorption of zinc was measured from an MNP-fortified meal and from unfortified meals with stable isotope tracers; total daily absorbed zinc (TAZ, milligrams per day) was determined as the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included investigation of relations of TAZ to intake, to physiologic requirement, and to other variables, including biomarkers of systemic and intestinal inflammation, using nonlinear models. TAZ was also compared with published data on child zinc absorption.

Results:

In 74 subjects who completed the study, zinc absorption did not differ by L:M grouping. Most biomarkers of intestinal inflammation were elevated in both L:M groups. For combined L:M groups, mean ± SD TAZ for each MNP dose (0, 5, 10, and 15 mg/sachet) was 0.57 ± 0.30, 0.68 ± 0.31, 0.90 ± 0.43, and 1.0 ± 0.39 mg/d, respectively (P = 0.002), and exceeded the estimated physiologic requirement only for the 10- and 15-mg MNP doses. Zinc absorption was notably lower at all intake levels compared with published data (P < 0.0001) and was inversely related to serum α-1 acid glycoprotein and to fecal Entamoeba histolytica (P = 0.02).

Conclusion:

Results indicate impaired absorption of zinc, which may predispose to zinc deficiency in young children with evidence of enteropathy. These findings suggest that current doses of zinc in MNP may be insufficient to yield zinc-related preventative benefits in similar settings. This study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02758444.

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