Iron and zinc are essential micronutrients for human health. Deficiencies in these 2 nutrients remain a global problem, especially among women and children in developing countries. Supplementation with iron and zinc as single micronutrients enhances distinct and unique biochemical and functional outcomes. These micronutrients have the potential to interact when given together; thus, it is important to assess the biochemical and functional evidence from clinical trials before supplementation policies are established. We reviewed randomized trials that assessed the effects of iron and zinc supplementation on iron and zinc status. On the basis of this review, zinc supplementation alone does not appear to have a clinically important negative effect on iron status. However, when zinc is given with iron, iron indicators do not improve as greatly as when iron is given alone. In most of the studies, iron supplementation did not affect the biochemical status of zinc, but the data are not clear regarding morbidity outcomes. Although some trials have shown that joint iron and zinc supplementation has less of an effect on biochemical or functional outcomes than does supplementation with either mineral alone, there is no strong evidence to discourage joint supplementation. Supplementation programs that provide iron and zinc together are an efficient way to provide both micronutrients, provided the benefits of individual supplementation are not lost. Further research is needed before health policies on joint supplementation programs can be established.
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