The Potential Role of Zinc Supplementation on Pressure Injury Healing in Older Adults

A Review of the Literature

Melissa Heintschel, MS, RD, LD; Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, RD


Wounds. 2017;29(2):56-61. 

In This Article


Search strategies included the use of the following Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms in PubMed: "zinc status," "pressure ulcer," "pressure ulcers in older adults," "wound healing," and "zinc sulfate." PubMed was chosen for its comprehensive database of peer-reviewed journals in all aspects of medical and allied health, often encompassing the contents of several other databases used for queries of medical, nursing, and dietetics research. A total of 41 full-text journal articles, books, and credible web-based content were evaluated. The inclusion criteria comprised adequate sample size, sound methodology, generalizability of findings, and adherence to MeSH categorization. Articles between 2006 and 2016 were selected. One article from 2001 was selected that investigated adverse effects of supplementation, and another article from 1968 was reviewed in order to incorporate contrasting information on oral Zn supplementation effects alone. Inclusion criteria consisted of LTC and home-care populations, as well as articles investigating chronic wounds, including PIs and healing progression. A large number of papers reporting on intensive care units and home-health settings were excluded. Exclusion was due to the short duration of the study or insufficient follow-up, with no ability to consider the course of wound healing. For comparative purposes, 1 study from intensive care, home health, and dietary Zn alone were evaluated.[24,25] Lack of research measuring nutrient loss from PI wound exudate in the elderly was found, but 1 study was included that investigated select vitamin and trace element loss from wound exudates in adults.[26] The use of topical Zn as an intervention was also excluded, as this is not ingested and therefore not considered a nutritional intervention. Search results were narrowed by English language, timeframe, and peer review.