Zinc status in South Asian populations—an update

Zinc status in South Asian populations—an update

Zinc plays a critical role in normal functioning of body and is integrated with several enzyme systems. Gene expression, cell division, immunity, and reproduction are important biological functions of zinc. Adequate dietary intake of zinc has been shown to exert ameliorating effect on the skin, and this attenuates the likelihood of restricted linear growth in young children. Neuro-behavioural disturbances among infants, hypoguesia, the chronic non-healing leg ulcers and repeated infections are common among zinc-deficient subjects of all ages. Pregnant women with zinc deficiency are at the risk of complicated pregnancy outcomes.

This review highlights current situation of zinc deficiency in South Asian developing countries and examines causes of zinc deficiency, adverse health effects, and possible intervention strategies in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Future directions have been provided to delineate the action-oriented strategies and plans that need to acquire momentum for virtual elimination of zinc deficiency in this region.

This review finds that Bangladesh seems to have the highest prevalence of zinc deficiency. Populations from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan are also affected by zinc deficiency. Inadequate intake of zinc has been regarded as one of the most significant causes of zinc deficiency. Diarrhoea, respiratory infections, and malaria have been associated with zinc deficiency, particularly in low-income developing countries. Supplementation, fortification, and dietary diversification are the most viable strategies to enhancing the zinc status among various population groups.

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