Preliminary investigation of the impact of beef consumption on iron, zinc, and selenium status of female college students



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Texas Tech University


Current dietary recommendations are changing the public's food choices. To the United States (US) population, a dietary paUem emphasizing low fat and low cholesterol content is being advocated to the general public in an effort to reduce chronic and degenerative diseases (US Department of Agriculture [USDAl/US Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1995; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 1993; American Heart Association, 1995). As a consequence, beef consumption is declining due to the concerns about the levels of fat and cholesterol in beef (Lamb and Beshear, 1998). However, beef is an important source of many nutrients, including iron, zinc, and selenium (National Live Stock and Meat Board, 1988; Zhang et al., 1993). As beef consumption decreases, the nutritional impact of changes in beef consumption on mineral status must be documented.

Women of child-bearing age are identified as at risk group for iron deficiency (Anonymous, 1998; Valberg et al., 1976; Looker et al., 1997; Miles et al., 1984). Additionally, marginal zinc intakes have been documented for young women Pennington et al., 1989). Furthermore, restrained eating was found not uncommon among college-age females (Radbill and Ross, 1995), possibly due to disturbed body image (Hendricks and Herbold, 1998). Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate and document the relationship between beef consumption and selected mineral status of iron, zinc, and selenium, of women of child-bearing age. A group of female college students formed a sample for this study. Data were collected to test against the following hypotheses:

  1. The consumption of beef is positively correlated with iron status;

  2. The consumption of beef is positively correlated with zinc status;

  3. The consumption of beef is positively correlated with selenium status.

Also investigated herein were the contribution of beef to the dietary iron, zinc, and selenium intake, and the relationship between dietary mineral intake and the levels of corresponding biochemical indicators.

The design of the present study used two dietary measurement techniques, 3-day food record and frequency questionnaire, to collect dietary information. Consequently, the generalization of the findings was limited by the adequacy of reflecting actual and usual dietary habits by the two techniques. Furthermore, caution needs to be practiced when generalizing the findings to the age-gender cohort represented by the subjects participating in the present study as educational experience was found to be a significant factor determining dietary pattern, including meat consumption level (Georgiou et al., 1997).