AbstractEssential fatty acids (gamma-linolenic and linoleic acids) when added to the diets of zinc-deficient rats at a dose of 200 microlitres/day completely prevented the sexual immaturity, alopecia, keratosis and bleeding of the nasal region and paws normally found in these animals. The severe retardation in growth caused by Zn deficiency was also partially inhibited. Serum Zn levels in the Zn deficient - essential fatty acid treated rats were significantly above the levels in the untreated Zn deficient rats but were below control values. Placebo treatment with olive oil had no effect on the development of the Zn deficient condition or on serum or tissue Zn levels. We suggest that an important effect of Zn deficiency may be via reduced prostaglandin production which can be largely prevented by essential fatty acid supplementation in the form of evening primrose oil.
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