Evidence of zinc deficiency in competitive swimmers
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Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the nutritional zinc (Zn) status of elite swimmers during different training periods.Methods: A longitudinal paired study was performed at the University of São Paulo in eight male swimmers 18 to 25 y old who had been swimming competitively at the state and national levels for at least 5 y. The swimmers were evaluated over a total period of 14 wk: before the basic and specific preparatory period (BSPP-baseline), at the end of the basic and specific preparatory period (post-BSPP), and at the end of the polishing period (PP). Levels of Zn were determined in the plasma, erythrocyte, urine, and saliva by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Anthropometric measurements and a 3-d food record were also evaluated.Results: The median plasma Zn concentration was below the reference value in all training periods (BSPP-baseline 59 mu g/dL, post-BSPP 55.9 mu g/dL, after PP 58.8 mu g/dL, P > 0.05), as were threshold values for erythrocytes (BSPP-baseline 36.5 mu g of Zn/g of hemoglobin, post-BSPP 42 mu g of Zn/g of hemoglobin, after PP 40.7 mu g of Zn/g of hemoglobin, P > 0.05), urinary Zn (BSPP-baseline 280 mu g/24 h, post-BSPP 337 mu g/24 h, after PP 284 mu g/24 h, P > 0.05), and salivary Zn (BSPP-baseline 66.1 mu g/L, post-BSPP 54.1 mu g/L, after PP 79.7 mu g/L, > 0.05). Salivary Zn did not correlate with plasma and erythrocyte Zn levels.Conclusion: The results suggest that the elite swimmers studied presented a possible Zn deficiency and that salivary Zn was not adequate to evaluate the Zn nutritional status. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.