The Journal of Nutrition

Has Zinc Lost Its Shine?

The Journal of Nutrition, nxac028,

Published: 04 March 2022


Public health interest in zinc nutrition has surged over the past 25 y, starting after several meta-analyses showed a potential beneficial impact of zinc supplements on diarrhea and pneumonia. One of these studies reported a 18% reduction in diarrheal incidence and a 41% reduction in pneumonia in zinc-supplemented children (1). In 2004, UNICEF and the WHO updated the guidelines for treatment of acute diarrhea and added zinc supplements for 10–14 d in children older than 6 mo as adjuvant therapy to oral rehydration salts to speed up recovery (2). A recent meta-analysis reported an average reduction in duration of diarrhea of just under 12 h when zinc was added to treatment, perhaps a slightly disappointing effect. More important, the same meta-analysis suggested that the incidence of persistent diarrhea, that is, diarrhea continuing for 7 d or more, could be reduced by 27% after zinc supplementation (…