Zinc absorption was measured in 37 children with malnutrition using the oral zinc tolerance test (22.5 mg elementary zinc) and the results compared with those of a group of healthy control subjects. The increase in plasma zinc was significantly lower in patients with marasmic kwashiorkor than in the control group. The zinc tolerance test was, however, normal in marasmic patients. We conclude that zinc deficiency occurs in some types of protein energy malnutrition, and that malabsorption may aggravate zinc deficiency. It is reasonable to give higher doses of zinc than are usually recommended during oral zinc supplementation in patients with protein energy malnutrition.
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