Zinc deficiency

Melanie J. Tuerk, Nasim Fazel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Purpose of review Zinc plays an essential role in numerous biochemical pathways. Zinc deficiency affects many organ systems, including the integumentary, gastrointestinal, central nervous system, immune, skeletal, and reproductive systems. This article aims to discuss zinc metabolism and highlights a few of the diseases associated with zinc deficiency. Recent findings Zinc deficiency results in dysfunction of both humoral and cell-mediated immunity and increases the susceptibility to infection. Supplementation of zinc has been shown to reduce the incidence of infection as well as cellular damage from increased oxidative stress. Zinc deficiency is also associated with acute and chronic liver disease. Zinc supplementation protects against toxin-induced liver damage and is used as a therapy for hepatic encephalopathy in patients refractory to standard treatment. Zinc deficiency has also been implicated in diarrheal disease, and supplementation has been effective in both prophylaxis and treatment of acute diarrhea. Summary This article is not meant to review all of the disease states associated with zinc deficiency. Rather, it is an introduction to the influence of the many roles of zinc in the body, with an extensive discussion of the influence of zinc deficiency in selected diseases. Zinc supplementation may be beneficial as an adjunct to treatment of many disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-143
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Gastroenterology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Acute and chronic liver disease
  • Diarrheal illness
  • Immunity
  • Zinc deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Zinc deficiency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this