Serum from trace element free tube
Sample must be received within 90 minutes of being collected. Please direct the patient to the Royal Devon & Exeter Out-patients phlebotomy department to be bled if this request is being made by primary care.
8.0 – 17.0 µmol/L
Zinc deficiency can occur in patients on renal dialysis or parenteral nutrition and in conditions involving chronic loss of protein and electrolytes.
Some drugs, including steroids, diuretics and anticonvulsants, may reduce zinc levels. The rare recessive condition acrodermatitis enteropathica is associated with an isolated malabsorption of zinc.
Reported possible symptoms of deficiency include loss of appetite, poor taste, dermatitis, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, decreased growth and sexual development, and infertility.
Health food shops sell zinc supplements to boost the immune system and cure colds and topical preparations may promote healing of wounds and ulcers. Plasma levels do not give useful information in these situations – better to try the products and see if they work. More serious levels of zinc deficiency are found in developing countries where the high phytate content of cereal diets binds zinc. In 1961 a group of anaemic clay-eating Iranian dwarfs with rough dry skin and absent secondary sex characteristics were shown to be zinc deficient and their troubles corrected by oral zinc sulphate.
Zinc toxicity has been described in welders inhaling zinc oxide fumes causing metal-fume fever or brass chills.
University Hospital of Wales
14 daysSpecimen Labelling Procedure