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Europe approves important health claims for Zinc

Jul 24, 2014

The following are approved health claims in European Union member countries for the mineral zinc. Zinc is required for hundreds of metabolic activities in the human body.

The European Food Safety Authority has been busily reviewing submitted data in relation to health claims for nutritional supplements. The following has been taken verbatim from their journal; EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1819 [25 pp.].

Zinc and the maintenance of normal skin

The claimed effect is “skin and wound healing”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal skin is a beneficial physiological effect.

One of the clinical manifestations of severe zinc deficiency in humans is akrodermatitis, characterised by erythematous, vesiculobullous and pustular rashes primarily around the body orifices and at the extremities.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and maintenance of normal skin. However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of zinc leading to impaired maintenance of normal skin occurs in the general EU population.

Zinc and DNA synthesis and cell division

The claimed effect is “skin and wound healing”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the clarifications provided by Member States, the Panel assumes that the claimed effect is related to normal DNA synthesis and cell division.

A claim on zinc and DNA synthesis and cell division has already been assessed with a favorable outcome.

Zinc and its contribution to normal protein synthesis

The claimed effects are “skin and wound healing” and “zinc contributes to protein synthesis, namely keratin and collagen which belong to hair, skin and nail structure”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the clarifications provided by Member States, the Panel assumes that the claimed effect is related to normal protein synthesis including keratin and collagen synthesis. The Panel considers that contribution to normal protein synthesis is a beneficial physiological effect.

Zinc is an essential component of a large number of enzymes that also participate in the synthesis of proteins.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and contribution to normal protein synthesis. However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of zinc leading to impaired protein synthesis occurs in the general EU population.

Zinc and its relationship to normal hormonal activity and the maintenance of normal serum testosterone concentrations

The claimed effect is “required to maintain an optimised hormonal environment that supports muscle growth”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the clarifications provided by Member States, the Panel assumes that the claimed effect is related to serum testosterone concentrations. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal serum testosterone concentrations is a beneficial physiological effect.

Low dietary zinc status has been associated with low circulating concentrations of several hormones including testosterone.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and maintenance of normal serum testosterone concentrations. However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of zinc leading to impaired maintenance of normal serum testosterone concentrations occurs in the general EU population.

Zinc and the maintenance of normal hair

The claimed effect is “significant effect on building of hair and nails”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal hair is a beneficial physiological effect.

Clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency include various epithelial lesions. After the onset of dermatitis, the hair may become hypopigmented and acquire a reddish hue. Patchy loss of hair is a feature of zinc deficiency.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and maintenance of normal hair. However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of zinc leading to impaired maintenance of normal hair occurs in the general EU population.

Zinc and the maintenance of normal nails

The claimed effect is “significant effect on building of hair and nails”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal nails is a beneficial physiological effect.

Clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency include various epithelial lesions. Nail dystrophy has been reported as a symptom of zinc deficiency.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and maintenance of normal nails. However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of zinc leading to impaired maintenance of normal nails occurs in the general EU population.

Zinc and its contribution to normal macronutrient metabolism

The claimed effect is “zinc is an element or cofactor of various enzymes of the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids as well as of nucleic acids: alcohol dehydrogenase, superoxide dismutase, DNA polymerase, RNA polymerase, alkaline phosphatases, carboxypeptidase. It is also involved in the activity of more than 200 enzymes. Its main physiological impact is in all steps of protein synthesis. Zinc activates DNA and RNA polymerases and is essential to histones regulation. It is also involved in several peptidic hormones stabilisation (insulin, gustin, thymulin)”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wordings, the Panel assumes that the claimed effect refers to macronutrient metabolism. The Panel considers that contribution to normal macronutrient metabolism is a beneficial physiological effect.

Many of the enzymes of the intermediate metabolism contain zinc, and deficiency affects the metabolism of all macronutrients.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and contribution to normal macronutrient metabolism. However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of zinc leading to impaired macronutrient metabolism occurs in the general EU population.