The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, was sponsored by Swiss supplier Jungbunzlauer which said its findings would boost the zinc form’s use in food supplements and functional foods, especially dairy products.
The research, led by Rita Wegmüller and Richard Hurrel of the ETH Zurich, will also aid Jungbunzlauer in its aim to have the nutrient added to the internationally approved list of nutrients in infant formula (via Codex), Dr Gerhard Gerstner, business development manager in Health & Nutrition told us at Food Ingredients Europe in Frankfurt yesterday.
“It is already allowed in the EU for this application, but we seek approval with Codex to further broaden the usage into special applications although this might take some years,” said Dr Gerstner.
In the wider food supply he added: “The most important market for zinc citrate beyond personal care like tooth paste is its usage as nutrient in food supplements, followed by fortifying food such as dairy products in countries where there is prevalence of zinc deficiency.”
Zinc won 18 health-related affirmations from bone, eye and hair health to fertility and immunity under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) – the most of any mineral.
15 healthy young adults featured in the randomised, double-blind, three-way cross-over study, receiving either 10 mg of elemental zinc as a supplement without food via zinc citrate, zinc gluconate or oxide zinc.
Zinc absorption was 61.3% for zinc citrate, 60.9% for zinc gluconate and 49.9% for zinc oxide. Measurement occurred via the double isotope tracer methodology.
The researchers concluded it was a, “useful alternative for preventing zinc deficiency" and could also play a role in battling diarrhea.
"At the present time, WHO recommends the use of the water soluble compounds zinc sulfate, zinc acetate or zinc gluconate in the form of syrups or dispersible tablets in the management of diarrhea," they wrote.
"Zinc citrate might be a useful addition to this list and be especially suitable for chewable/crushable tablets since it has better sensory properties …”
Journal of Nutrition
doi: 10.3945/jn.113.181487 (first published online November 20, 2013.)
‘Zinc Absorption by Young Adults from Supplemental Zinc Citrate Is Comparable with That from Zinc Gluconate and Higher than from Zinc Oxide’
Authors: Rita Wegmuller, Fabian Tay, Christophe Zeder, Marica Brni´c, and Richard F. Hurrell