Nutritional zinc deficiency is highly prevalent in developing regions owing to a combination of inadequate intake of zinc and high consumption of substances that limit zinc absorption, such as phytates, oxalates, and, in some cases, clay. Clay eating or 'pica' is common in children in some communities. Clay efficiently binds zinc, leading to dramatically decreased bioavailability. It is estimated that approximately 2 billion people in developing countries have some level of zinc deficiency. Children and elderly adults seem to be more at risk.
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