Zinc intake, zinc status and growth in a longitudinal study of healthy Danish infants

K. F. Michaelsen, G. Samuelson, T. W. Graham, B. Lonnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Mild, growth-limiting zinc deficiency might be prevalent in otherwise healthy infants according to recent studies. We examined zinc intake and status in 91 healthy term infants from birth to 12 months, as part of the Copenhagen Cohort Study on Infant Nutrition and Growth. Zinc intake was recorded monthly and the amount of zinc absorbed was estimated. These estimates were below recently published FAO/WHO/IAEA values for basal requirements in 68%, 62% and 14% of the infants at 2, 4 and 9 months of age, respectively. Serum zinc decreased significantly (p < 0.01) from 10.6 μmol/l at 6 months to 8.4μmol/1 at 9 months of age (normal range 10-18 μmol/l). Erythrocyte metallothionein values, a tentative indicator of long-term zinc status, decreased significantly from 2 to 6 months (p < 0.001) and from 6 to 9 months (p < 0.01). Serum zinc at 9 months was positively associated with growth velocity during the period from 6 to 9 months (weight: p = 0.05; knee-heel length: p = 0.002). The results provide descriptive data on zinc intake and zinc status in healthy Danish infants. Although some of our data suggest suboptimal zinc status during late infancy, evidence for this can only be obtained through a randomized intervention study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1121
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast feeding
  • Erytrocyte metallothionein
  • Infant nutrition
  • Weaning foods
  • Zinc deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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