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Type Journal Article - International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research
Title A high prevalence of zinc-but not iron-deficiency among women in rural Malawi: a cross-sectional study
Volume 83
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 176-187
URL http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/24846907
Background: Zinc deficiency is often associated with nutritional iron deficiency (ID), and may
be exacerbated by low selenium status. Aim: To investigate risk of iron and zinc deficiency in women with
contrasting selenium status. Methods: In a cross-sectional study, 1-day diet composites and blood samples
were collected from self-selected Malawian women aged 18−50 years from low- (Zombwe) (n=60) and
high-plant-available soil selenium (Mikalango) (n=60) districts. Diets were analyzed for trace elements
and blood for biomarkers. Results: Zinc deficiency (>90%) was greater than ID anemia (6%), or ID (5%),
attributed to diets low in zinc (median 5.7 mg/day) with high phytate:zinc molar ratios (20.0), but high
in iron (21.0 mg/day) from soil contaminant iron. Zombwe compared to Mikalango women had lower
(p<0.05) intakes of selenium (6.5 vs. 55.3 µg/day), zinc (4.8 vs. 6.4 mg/day), iron (16.6 vs. 29.6 mg/day),
lower plasma selenium (0.72 vs. 1.60 µmol/L), and higher body iron (5.3 vs. 3.8 mg/kg), although plasma
zinc was similar (8.60 vs. 8.87 µmol/L). Body iron and plasma zinc were positive determinants of hemoglobin.
Conclusion: Risk of zinc deficiency was higher than ID and was shown not to be associated
with selenium status. Plasma zinc was almost as important as body iron as a hemoglobin determinant.

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