As discussed earlier, there are no adequately documented functional or simple laboratory indexes of zinc nutriture that can provide a principal indicator of zinc requirements in adults. However, sufficient data are now available to apply a factorial approach to determine the EAR for adults. With this approach, the principal indicator selected is the minimal quantity of absorbed zinc that is adequate to replace endogenous zinc losses. The EAR is the average zinc intake that provides this quantity of absorbed zinc. An outline of these calculations follows.
Step 1: Calculation of Endogenous Losses of Zinc via Routes Other than the Intestine. Urinary zinc excretion declines only with extreme dietary zinc restriction and is not correlated with zinc ingested by young adult men over a range of 4 to 25 mg zinc/day (Baer and King, 1984; Behall et al., 1987; Coudray et al., 1997; Hallfrisch et al., 1987; Holbrook et al., 1989; Hunt JR et al., 1992; Jackson et al., 1984; Johnson et al., 1982, 1993; Lee et al., 1993; Mahalko et al., 1983; Milne et al., 1983; Snedeker et al., 1982; Spencer et al., 1979; Turnlund et al., 1984, 1986; Wada et al., 1985). In men, therefore, zinc excretion via the kidney should be regarded as a constant in calculating zinc requirements, the average excretion being 0.63 mg/ day. Though fewer data are available, the same constancy appears to be true for combined integumental and sweat losses (Johnson et al., 1993) and losses in semen (Hunt CD et al., 1992; Johnson et al., 1993) for which the zinc losses average 0.54 and 0.1 mg/day, respectively. Therefore, losses of endogenous zinc via routes other than the intestine can be regarded as a constant over the range of dietary zinc intake that encompasses zinc requirements. This average constant for men has been calculated to be 1.27 mg/day (0.63 + 0.54 + 0.1) of zinc. An equal quantity of zinc must be absorbed to match this loss.
In 10 studies, the mean urinary loss of zinc from women was 0.44 mg/day (Colin et al., 1983; Greger et al., 1978; Hallfrisch et al., 1987; Hunt JR et al., 1992, 1998; Miller et al., 1998; Swanson and King, 1982; Taper et al., 1980; Turnlund et al., 1991; Wisker et al., 1991). Reported integumental losses for men are multiplied by 0.86 to adjust for the different average surface area of women, and accordingly the average total zinc endogenous losses are 0.46 mg/ day for women. Menstrual zinc losses are assumed to average 0.1