Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/18/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: The consequences of zinc and micronutrient supplementation on mental and motor abilities were examined in 740 first- and second-grade children from three urban areas in the Peoples Republic of China. Children received a daily treatment of 20 mg zinc alone, zinc plus micronutrients (based on U.S. RDAs), or micronutrients alone for 10 wk. Mental function (attention, perception, memory and reasoning) and motor abilities (speed, dexterity and eye-hand coordinaiton) were measured before and after treatment. Compared to treatment with micronutrients alone, treatments containing zinc resulted in improved attention, reasoning and motor skills. Large differences in performance among children receiving the same treatment may have hidden other effects. For example, both zinc treatments appeared to result in faster and more accurate responses than micronutrients alone on a task measuring visual perception. These findings have important practical implications for the estimated 23-34% of Chinese children who are zinc deficient and for other children worldwide who are at risk for zinc deficiency.
Technical Abstract: Effects of zinc (Zn) and micronutrient supplementation on cognition and psychomotor function of children were determined in 740 Chinese children (aged 6-9 y) attending urban schools in low income areas of Chongqing, Qingdao and Shanghai, PRC. At each location, classrooms of approximately 40 students each received a daily treatment of 20 mg zinc alone, zinc plus micronutrients (Zn+M; 50% RDA or mean ESADDI, excluding iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, with folate at 25% RDA), or micronutrients alone (M) in a double-blind manner for 10 wk. Cognition and psychomotor function were assessed before and after treatment by a battery of computer-administered tasks designed to emphasize attention, perception, memory and reasoning, and the motor and spatial skills necessary for successful performance. Compared to treatment with M, treatment with Zn+M or Zn was associated with improved attention, reasoning and psychomotor function. High response variability, and perhaps ceiling effects, made it impossible to establish as statistically reliable several other apparent treatment effects. For example, both Zn and Zn+M appeared to result in better accuracy and faster response times than M on a task measuring visual perception. Findings have important practical implications for the estimated 23-34% of Chinese children who are zinc deficient and for other children worldwide who are at risk for zinc deficiency, and may benefit other nutrition scientists, clinicians and policy makers.