Zinc is an essential micronutrient for the organism and is critical for the functional and structural integrity of cells. Determination of the amount of trace element concentrations in tissues such as hair samples have been used for the evaluation of the metabolic status especially in children. Unlike serum zinc, concentrations of zinc in hair are more stable and indicative of variations over time. The purpose of this study is to assess the zinc status of healthy school-age children in Kayseri (Turkey) by measuring the zinc level in hair samples and its association with BMI and the frequency of intake of zinc-rich foods. A total of 527 healthy children, including preadolescent (n = 360) aged 6-10 years and adolescent (n = 167) aged 11-15 years were included in this study. Hair samples were analyzed for zinc content by the inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrophotometry. Analysis of 527 healthy children showed that the mean hair zinc level was 186 ± 77 μg/g. Mean hair zinc level was lower in preadolescent age group than adolescents. There was no significant relationship between the monthly income of the family and the zinc-rich food intake and the zinc level of the hair. Our study shows that samples for analysis of zinc can be obtained with a noninvasive method for determining cases of deficiency during periods of rapid growth. However, further studies are needed to determine the normal tissue zinc level in healthy children, especially in our country and including different geographical regions.
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