Association between serum zinc levels and basic physical functioning: secondary data analysis of NHANES 2011–14
Background: Serum zinc (Zn) levels have been shown to be associated with functional status; however, it is not clear whether this association differs by other sociodemographic characteristics. We examined the association between serum Zn levels and physical functioning difficulty in a representative sample of older adults in the US. Design and methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on participants 50 years and older from the 2011–12 and 2013–14 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (n = 1136). Serum Zn levels were analyzed as tertiles. The main outcome of interest was physical functioning difficulty, defined as self-reported difficulty of basic physical functioning that included walking, transferring, dressing, and feeding. Results: Mean Zn levels (SE) were 0.67(0.1), 0.81(0.1), and 0.98(0.1) μg/mL in the low, middle, and high Zn groups, respectively. Approximately 24.9% participants reported physical functioning difficulty. In the multivariable model, we found a significant multiplicative interaction between sex and serum Zn (P for interaction =0.028) and between education and serum Zn (P for interaction = 0.001) on basic physical functioning difficulty. The stratified analysis revealed that among men, compared to those with low serum Zn, the odds of having physical functioning difficulty were lower in men who had high serum Zn [aOR 0.43 (95% CI: 0.25–0.76)]. For women, compared to those with low serum Zn the odds of having physical functioning difficulty were higher in women who had middle serum Zn [aOR 2.67 (1.58–4.50)]. Among individuals with less than high school education, the odds of having physical functioning difficulty were lower in those who had middle serum Zn compared to those who had low serum Zn [aOR 0.48 (0.26–0.89)]. However, the odds of having physical functioning difficulty were higher in those who had middle serum Zn compared to those who had low serum Zn for individuals with high school [aOR 5.72 (1.92–17.00)] and beyond high school education [aOR 1.77 (1.05–2.97)], respectively. Conclusion: Sex and educational attainment interact with serum Zn levels to influence basic physical functioning difficulty in older adults.
Gau, Jen Tzer; Chavan, Bhakti; Li, Yang; Clark, Brian C.; and Haile, Zelalem T., "Association between serum zinc levels and basic physical functioning: secondary data analysis of NHANES 2011–14" (2021). Primary Care Open Access Publications. 22.