Metabolic adaptations to low zinc intakes in premenarcheal girls

Ian J. Griffin, Penni D. Hicks, Lily K. Liang, Steven A. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Zinc deficiency is increasingly recognized as an important cause of mortality and morbidity. Children in developing countries are at especially high risk because of relatively low zinc intakes and poor bioavailability. Objective: We assessed the effect of 2-wk adaptation to low zinc intake (4 mg/d) on fractional zinc absorption, endogenous fecal zinc excretion, and urinary zinc excretion. Design: Sixteen healthy 9-14-y-old girls were studied twice in random order after 2-wk adaptation to diets providing either 12 mg/d (high) or 4 mg/d (low) zinc. Fractional zinc absorption and endogenous fecal zinc excretion were measured with use of established stable isotope techniques. Results: Plasma zinc was not significantly lower during the low dietary intake period (1.06 ± 0.18 mg/L) than during the high dietary intake period (1.14 ± 0.23 mg/L, P = 0.30). Endogenous fecal zinc excretion was significantly lower during the low intake period (1.08 ± 0.62 mg/d) than during the high intake period (1.82 ± 0.95 mg/d, P < 0.026), but there was no significant change in fractional zinc absorption (30.6% ± 12.4% compared with 26.6% ± 9.0%, P = 0.32) or urinary zinc excretion (0.68 ± 0.35 mg/d compared with 0.59 ± 0.24 mg/d, P = 0.30). Approximate zinc balance was significantly lower during the low-intake period than during the high-intake period (P = 0.007) and significantly (P < 0.0001) less than zero. Conclusion: Short-term zinc restriction in premenarcheal girls leads to a significant decrease in endogenous fecal zinc excretion, which was inadequate to restore normal zinc balance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-390
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Mineral metabolism
  • Stable isotopes
  • Zinc absorption
  • Zinc balance
  • Zinc excretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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