Zinc Containing Pharmacological Supplements

As exemplified by the results of controlled trials, zinc supplementation is an efficacious (i.e., effective under controlled study conditions) strategy to prevent zinc deficiency. However, the effectiveness of this strategy under realistic conditions will depend on the success of in-country programs to distribute zinc supplements to vulnerable populations and on their use by the intended recipients. At present, few such zinc supplementation programs are in place. It may be more feasible to add zinc to iron supplements, use of which is widely advocated for the prevention of iron deficiency anemia in young children and women of childbearing age. However, some evidence indicates that when these two minerals are combined, their ability to improve either zinc or iron status diminishes. The competitive interaction between iron and zinc at the level of intestinal absorption or post-absorption may explain this observation. Research is required to determine optimal supplementation schemes for the prevention of iron and zinc deficiencies simultaneously.

Given the recent recommendation for the use of zinc in the management of acute diarrhea and the resultant reduction of childhood mortality observed in one study to date, it is expected that diarrheal treatment programs including supplemental zinc will ensue.

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