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Using data on over 200,000 children, Cochrane researchers reach a positive conclusion for zinc supplements.
The importance of zinc cannot be stressed enough. Zinc is an essential trace element. But in countries where zinc deficiency is common, and food is hard to come by, zinc supplements may have some good use.
Reporting their results in The Cochrane Library, researchers led by Evan Mayo-Wilson performed about as big of a zinc meta-analysis as you can get. Using data from 80 qualified random controlled trials on 205,401 children, they compared health outcomes between children supplementing with and without zinc.
Zinc supplements seemed to influence a reduced risk of diarrhea, an outcome also reported in a previous Cochrane review on fewer trials. The effects of this one supplement based on the new data, however, extended to increases in child height and, not surprisingly, a “medium to large effect on zinc status.” Even though this nutrient has been associated with reductions in lower respiratory tract infections and malaria incidence in previous trials, this round-up of data did not support these previous findings.
Zinc deficiency is a critical issue in many developing countries, and estimates suggest that one of every six people on Earth is deficient in zinc.
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Nutritional Outlook magazine