• Zinc deficiency occurs in individuals and populations whose diets are low in sources of readily bioavailable zinc such as red meat, and high in unrefined cereals that are rich in phytate and dietary fibers. Dietary zinc deficiency was described nearly three decades ago among the poor of the Middle East. It is now known to occur in children and adolescents from widely diverse areas including Egypt, Iran, Turkey, China, Yugoslavia, Canada, and the United States; and among pregnant women from Iran, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. Major manifestations include retarded growth and development and an increased incidence of pregnancy complications. Other manifestations may include suppressed immunity, poor healing, dermatitis, and impairments in neuropsychological functions. Precise information as to the numbers of people affected by dietary zinc deficiency is not available. Even so the nature of diets associated with zinc deficiency suggests that mild deficiency is common in some populations.