Reference Range for Zinc Level in Young Healthy Population in Southeast of Iran


Mohammad Ali Mashhadi 1 , * , Aliraza Bakhshipour 2 , Zahra Zakeri 1 , Alireza Ansari- Moghadam 1

1 Health Promotion Research Center, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Ali Ebne Abitaleb Hospital, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

How to Cite: Mashhadi M A, Bakhshipour A, Zakeri Z, Ansari- Moghadam A. Reference Range for Zinc Level in Young Healthy Population in Southeast of Iran, Health Scope. 2017 ; 6(1):e18181. doi: 10.17795/jhealthscope-18181.


Health Scope: 6 (1); e18181
Published Online: November 8, 2016
Article Type: Research Article
Received: February 12, 2014
Revised: July 27, 2016
Accepted: October 13, 2016


Background: There are different controversial reports about Zinc status in healthy and normal population. The aim of this study is to evaluate Zinc status in normal and healthy population.

Methods: This cross-sectional study conducted on 320 subjects aged between 10 - 30 years without any underlying diseases or history of mineral therapy in Zahedan, south east of Iran. Zinc level was measured in all subjects after 12 hours fasting. All blood samples were centrifuged following 45 minutes spontaneous coagulation and then stored at -20°C. Zinc level was measured using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry, Varian, Australia (spectr AA 240fs, 2009, USA).

Results: Of 355 cases, 320 were eligible for the study. Mean age was 15.5 ± 2.15 years and median age was 16. One hundred twenty cases were male and the others were female (200 cases). Mean BMI was 21.43 ± 4.15. Mean Zinc level was 100.1 ± 16 µg/dL. Overall, 2.1% of normal population had Zinc deficiency, 83.3% had normal Zinc status, and 14.6% had Zinc excess.

Conclusions: Our study showed minority of cases had Zinc deficiency, which is different from previous reported results, because the most subjects in this study had normal level of zinc. We recommend further studies on diet in our population. It seems the only reason for the obtained result in this part of Iran with low socioeconomic status may be related to the diets containing high levels of Zinc such as whole grains and dairy products.

1. Background

Zinc is a micronutrient element, which has an important role in human growth and development. Zinc is a necessary element in the function of many enzymes, cell division, immune system, synthesis of multiple proteins, and DNA and RNA synthesis (1, 2). Zinc plays a major role in infectious diseases (3, 4). Considering the major role of zinc in growth, development, and immune system, daily usage is mandatory (5). High level of Zinc is found in Oysters, Red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, certain seafood, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products. Low level of Zinc is found in vegetable, fruits, tea, coffee, rice, and bread (6). Zinc deficiency usually occurs in negative history of Zinc intake or any zinc-containing supplement intake and is commonly related to nutritional deficiency, but sometimes stems from malignant condition, diabetes mellitus, malabsorption, or other chronic illnesses (7, 8). Zinc deficiency is associated with growth retardation, decreased appetite, abnormal sexual function, abnormal wound healing, immune system dysfunction, neurologic abnormality, and predisposing to diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia (9, 10). Age, gender, and geographic location have major effects on zinc status (11-14). Reference ranges is defined as 70 - 120 µg/dL, while the values lower than 70 µg/dL is defined as zinc deficiency (15). WHO has reported 800000 deaths per year due to Zinc deficiency (7). Zinc deficiency is known to adversely affect health and immunity; however, excessive quantities of zinc intake may lead to both acute and chronic toxicity (16). Countries vary in the rate at which their populations are exposed to zinc deficiency. The first aim of the present study is to evaluate Zinc status especially in terms of Zinc deficiency in south east of Iran with especial socioeconomic status. The second aim is to respond to this important question "how many populations and whom members need to zinc supplement?".

2. Methods

This cross sectional study was carried out on healthy population in 2011 - 2012 in Zahedan; south east of Iran. The study was approved by ethics committee of Zahedan University of medical sciences. We calculated sample size according to previous studies. Total eligible cases were 320 subjects aged 10 - 30 years. They were selected from 6 postal area of Zahedan city using probability sampling. First, we divided the city into six postal areas. Then, we selected two zones from each area and a maximum of 30 people from each zone. Finally, we selected the subjects randomly from each zone using a list of names.

Inclusion criteria were healthy subjects without heart and liver diseases, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes mellitus, hemolytic anemia, malignancy, opium addiction, smoking, pregnancy, special diet, and supplement consumption during 6 months ago. Informed written consent was obtained from all participants and their parents. Briefly, weight was measured while participants wore light clothes without shoes, using digital scales, and recorded to the nearest 100 g. The height was measured in standing position without shoes, using a tape meter, while the shoulders were in normal state. BMI was calculated as weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared. For ages lower than 18 years, Waterlow and Gomez indices were used (17, 18).

A blood sample was taken after 12 to 14 hours of overnight fasting. All blood analyses were stored at -20 degree of centigrade until measurement using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry, Varian, Australia (spectr AA 240fs, 2009, USA) in Razavi hospital of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. The normal range of serum Zinc level according to this instrument was 70 - 125 µg/dL. In this study, subjects with serum level lower than 70 µg/dL and higher than 125 µg/dL were defined as Zinc deficiency and Zinc excess, respectively.

Statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS 15.0. Continuous variables were presented as mean and standard deviation. An independent sample t-test, ANOVA or Mann-Whitney U-test were used to assess significance of differences for continuous variables. P-values (two-sided) < 0.05 were considered significant.

3. Results

All 355 cases over 10 years old with healthy condition entered the study. Totally, 320 cases were eligible and evaluated for Zinc status. The age of participants ranged between 10 and 30 years. Mean age was 15.5 ± 2.15 years and median age was 16. About 37.5 % (120 cases) of subjects were male and 62.5% (200 cases) were female. Mean BMI was 21.43 ± 4.15 kg/m2 (ranged 13.69 - 33.75 kg/m2). Mean Zinc level was 100.1 ± 16 µg/dL (ranged 62 - 155 µg/dL). In male and female subjects, mean of serum zinc level was 101.46 ± 16.8 µg/dL and 99.13 ± 15.77 µg/dL, respectively (P value = 0.213). In male cases, 1.6% (2 cases) showed zinc deficiency, 89.1% (107 cases) were in normal range, and 9.1% (11 cases) had zinc excess. In female group, 0.5% (1 case) had Zinc deficiency, 94% were in normal range, and 5.5% (11cases) had Zinc excess. Mean zinc status according to BMI was 100.01 ± 16.1 µg/dL with non-significant P-value (0.321). In this study, mean Zinc level did not show significant correlation with age, sex, and BMI (P value > 0.05) (Tables 1 and 2).

Table 1. Zinc Status in Healthy Cases in Zahedan City in 2012 Based on Their Zinc Level, Gender, and BMI
Zinc status, µg/dLDeficiency < 70Normal, -12570Excess, > 125
Mean Zinc level65.4 ± 2.9496.43 ± 6.5132.3 ± 8.43
Sex, No. (%)
Male2 (1.6)107 (89.3)11 (9.1)
Female1 (0.5)188 (94)11 (5.5)
Mean Zinc level
Male67.1 ± 1.189.1 ± 6.4130.1 ± 5.5
Female62 ± 087.7 ± 9.6134.4 ± 10.4
Mean BMI25.3 ± 2.6821.5 ± 4.1823.3 ± 5.02
Table 2. Association Between Age Distribution and Mean Zinc Level in Healthy Cases in Zahedan City in 2012
Age, y10 - 1415 - 1920 - 30P-Value
Number of cases982148
Mean Zinc level, µg/dL97.9 ± 16.17102.09 ± 15.9994.9 ± 16.520.22

4. Discussion

This cross sectional study conducted on 320 cases from normal population showed low prevalence (2.1%) of Zinc deficiency; the majority of cases had normal status of zinc, and the minority had zinc excess. literature review for Zinc level in normal population showed that many studies have reported different status for zinc from normal to severe deficiency (19-21).

In study of Hettiarachchi and coworkers (19), the prevalence of Zinc deficiency was much higher than that of our study. In their study in female and male groups, Zinc deficiency was 58.3% and 51.5%, respectively. In another study (20), the prevalence of Zinc deficiency was 38.2% with similar sex prevalence. In a study carried out in southwest of Iran (21), the prevalence of Zinc deficiency was higher than that of the present study, so that serum Zinc level was 68.4-205 µg/dl with the mean value of 103.60 µg/dL. Zinc deficiency rate in males and females was 57.7% and 57.4%, respectively. These values were not significantly different. Age, sex, and BMI did not show significant relationships with the prevalence rate.

In our study, the mean serum zinc in males was higher than females without a significant difference, which is in agreement with the results of other studies (21-24). Only 2 studies reported higher mean zinc concentrations in female than male cases (25, 26). In other study, the prevalence of zinc deficiency was 31% (27). In study of Hashemi and coworkers, the prevalence of Zinc deficiency was 47.1% (24). In another study on female cases, the incidence of Zinc deficiency was reported as 7.1% (28). Dehghani (29) and coworkers reported the prevalence of zinc deficiency much lower than the prevalence reported in other studies, although in comparison with our study, they revealed much more prevalence rate for zinc deficiency. In Dehghani et al. study, mean zinc level was 122.3 ± 55 µg/dL. Zinc status did not show statistical relation to BMI, sex, and age. Study of prevalence of Zinc deficiency in other parts of Iran has revealed different rates such as 28%, 30.1%, and 85.5% (27, 30, 31). One of the main reasons for different reported rates in all around the world may be related to zinc concentration in soil. Excessive supplement therapy, diet, and various cut-of point of zinc level could be other possible reasons. Consumption of large amount of phytate has had a relationship with high prevalence of zinc deficiency (32).

4.1. Conclusion

Serum Zinc in many studies has been in low levels, and also mild to moderate Zinc deficiency has been reported as the most common finding in healthy population. However, the present study showed approximately all cases of healthy population had normal Zinc status. This important finding is the clue of an important question about time and number of cases who need to Zinc supplement therapy. Our study showed that no Zinc supplement is required for the study population, although more studies are needed to recognize the role of diet in zinc status in this part of Iran.



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