Intake of protective nutritional components, including zinc, is critical for older people. Zinc enrichment may be beneficial for health, but excess zinc may interact with Fe and Cu metabolism. We propose to determine the response to nutritional supplementation of zinc in cohorts of late middle-aged and older men and women from different European countries. Volunteers will receive a placebo or two levels of zinc supplement for 6 months. Effects of zinc supplementation on relevant micronutrient status and intestinal absorption of zinc will be evaluated. Cognitive function and psychological and physiological factors will be monitored. Beneficial effects and possible adverse effects, on surrogate biomarkers of health and physiological factors, will be determined at baseline, 3 and 6 months of zinc supplementation. This proposal will provide a scientific basis for formulation of public health recommendations on dietary zinc intake in ageing Europeans.
The overall aim is to provide clear and sound scientific data on the beneficial and/or potential adverse effects on mental and physical health of zinc supplementation in ageing Europeans in order to evaluate the need for dietary recommendations specific to this population.
The specific objectives are on the one hand an estimation of zinc intake and status in late middle-aged and older people in four European countries. On the other hand, the project is aimed at the determination of zinc supplementation effects on mood, taste, food choice, cognitive function, anti-oxidant status and oxidative damage, immune status, physical activity, basal metabolic rate and thyroid function, protein synthesis, bone health, micronutrient status, and lipid metabolism.
We expect to demonstrate that high intakes of dietary zinc are beneficial to psychological and physiological health without adverse effect for these population groups. The knowledge acquired in this project will provide a scientific basis to decide whether specific dietary recommendations for zinc are required for this population.