The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

Considerations for determining 'optimal nutrition' for copper, zinc, manganese and molybdenum.

PMID 10466195


Defining optimal dietary intakes of Cu and Zn throughout the life cycle continues to present a considerable challenge for nutrition scientists. Although the daily intake of these micronutrients is below that currently recommended for many groups, traditional biochemical indicators of nutritional status for these trace metals largely remain within the normal range. Thus, it is unclear whether the recommended daily intakes may be unnecessarily high, or if the commonly-used markers simply lack the necessary sensitivity and specificity that are required for accurately assessing Cu and Zn status. The increasing number of reports that daily supplements with these trace metals enhance the activities of selective metalloenzymes and specific cellular and organ processes further points out the need to differentiate between meeting the requirement and providing optimal nutriture. Results from recent studies suggesting that alternative molecular and functional markers possess sufficient sensitivity to better assess Cu and Zn status are discussed. Likewise, recent studies evaluating the impact of very low and excessive levels of dietary Mn and Mo on selective biochemical and metabolic indicators are reviewed.