Zinc may decrease mortality rate in low weight infants.





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Consumer Data: Zinc
Professional Data: Zinc


Zinc is necessary for the functioning of over 300 different enzymes and, as such, it plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Much attention has been placed on this mineral for its role in the immune system. In humans, the highest concentrations of zinc are found in the liver, pancreas, kidneys, bone, and muscles. The best dietary sources of zinc are lean meats, liver, eggs, and seafood (especially oysters). Whole grain breads and cereals are also good sources of zinc.

Zinc also plays an important role in the reproductive system where it is necessary for the development of sperm, for ovulation and for fertilization. It is also involved in sensory perceptions like taste, smell and vision. Zinc helps regulate a wide variety of immune system functions and it may stimulate anti-viral activity, which may account for its usefulness in colds.1 Other potential benefits, zinc may support prostrate health and prevent the progression of benign prostrate enlargement.

Researchers recently examined the role of zinc supplementation in deaths of infants with low birth weight. Zinc depletion has been noted in low birth weight infants and can lead to weakened immune systems during infancy and later in life. This randomized, double blind, controlled study included 1,154 low weight infants, all of whom were born full-term. The infants received 5 ml oral dose of one of several different mineral formulations in syrup form. Supplementation continued from 30 days to 284 days of age. Parental reports and medical records were used to determine the cause of death when a child died. The results revealed that supplementing with zinc was associated with a significant decrease in mortality over the other minerals tested. The authors concluded that zinc supplementation could reduce infectious disease mortality in low weight infants, substantially.2


1. Mossad SB, et al. Zinc Gluconate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold. A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study. Ann Intern Med. Jul 1996;125(2):81-88.
2. Sazawal S, et al. Zinc Supplementation in Infants Born Small for Gestational Age Reduces Mortality: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. Dec 2001;6(108)1280-6.