British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Age- and sex-dependent effects of long-term zinc supplementation on essential trace element status and lipid metabolism in European subjects: the Zenith Study

Isabelle Hininger-Faviera1 c1, Maud Andriollo-Sancheza1, Josiane Arnauda1, Nathalie Meuniera2, Séverine Borda3, Ciaren Grahama4, Angela Politoa5, Giuseppe Maiania5, Jacqueline M. O'Connora4, Charles Coudraya2 and Anne-Marie Roussela1

a1 Laboratoire de Nutrition, Vieillissement et Maladies Cardiovasculaires (NVMC), Faculté de Pharmacie, Domaine de la Merci, 38706 La Tronche Cedex, France

a2 Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Auvergne (CRNH), Unité Maladies Métaboliques et Micronutriments, INRA, Centre de Recherche de Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, 63122 St Genès-Champanelle, France

a3 Epidémiologie Animale, INRA, Centre de Recherche de Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, 63122 St Genès-Champanelle, France

a4 Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Biomedical Science, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, Co. Derry BT52 1SA, UK

a5 Instituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (INRAN), Via Ardeatina 546, 00178 Rome, Italy


Given the key role of Zn in many physiological functions, optimal Zn status could be a predictive parameter of successful ageing. However, the benefit of Zn supplementation is still a matter of debate since Zn supplementation has been reported to be associated with the alteration of Cu status and lipid metabolism. As part of the Zenith Project, the present study aimed to investigate, in free-living healthy European middle-aged and older subjects, the effect of Zn supplementation on the biochemical status of Zn, Fe and Cu and on lipid profile. Volunteers aged 55–70 (n 188) and 70–85 (n 199) years old participated in a double-blinded, randomised study and received a daily placebo, or Zn as 15 or 30 mg for 6 months. Zn supplementation did not significantly modify erythrocyte Zn levels or erythrocyte Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase activity. But Zn supplementation at 15 or 30 mg/d for 6 months increased significantly serum Zn levels and Zn urinary excretion with no major adverse effects on Fe and Cu status or on lipid metabolism. However, Zn supplementation at 30 mg/d showed some age- and sex-dependent alterations in Fe status or lipid profile. Therefore, with respect to the key role of an optimal Zn status in successful ageing, Zn supplementation at 15 mg/d, when necessary, could be safely proposed regarding lipids and the risk of interaction with Fe and Cu.

(Received June 23 2006)

(Revised September 15 2006)

(Accepted September 25 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Isabelle Hininger-Favier, fax +33 4 76 63 71 80, email


Abbreviations: SOD, superoxide dismutase