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Zinc is a vital nutrient that is essential for growth and development. Not only that, a lack of zinc has been associated with impaired cognitive development which makes it all the more crucial to add it to every child’s diet. Read on to learn more about the importance of zinc in child’s diet, how it impacts your child’s health and development, and what foods you can add to incorporate it to your kid’s diet.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a trace mineral that over 70 digestive enzymes rely on for regulating digestion and metabolism in the body. Children with zinc deficiencies experience growth defects and abnormalities which makes this a vital nutrient in every diet. It is also essential for the proper growth and development of reproductive organs in kids.
Benefits of Zinc for Your Child
The following are the benefits of zinc in children-
- Promotes healthy height and weight ranges
- Aids in cognitive development
- Improves mood and memory
- Prevents ADHD and enhances focus
- As it is an immunity booster, it works well for kids as they are vulnerable to infection
- Heals wounds and prevents age-related macular degeneration
- Treats common cold and diarrhoea
- Prevents retinal damage and loss of vision
- Topical zinc ointments are applied to children’s skin to eliminate diaper rashes and prevent sunburns.
- Cancer is on the rise, and it’s important to protect your kids from it. Zinc acts as a powerful antioxidant keeping your kids that much safer.
Zinc Dosages for Children
If you’re wondering about how much zinc to give kids, then we’ve got you covered. According to The Office of Dietary Supplements, these are the following zinc dosages for children-
- Ages 4 to 8 – 5 mg/day
- Ages 9 to 13 – 9mg/day
- Ages 14 to 18 – 11mg/day
- Teenage girls between the ages of 14 to 18 require only 9mg of Zinc a day.
Teenagers are highly recommended to not consume more than 34 milligrams of zinc a day which is the tolerable upper intake level, since they may experience various harmful side effects.
Zinc Rich Food Sources
You can up the zinc intake in your children through natural food sources. You can add these zinc foods for kids to your child’s diet-
- Red meat (pork, chicken, beef etc.)
- Whole-grain cereals
- Unskinned potatoes
- Breast milk
Caution If You are Planning to Give Zinc Supplements to Kids
If you are planning to give zinc supplements to your kids, then here are a couple of things you should know-
- May experience side effects like vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain
- High zinc dosage in children has been linked to increased blood cholesterol levels and recurring infections.
- May interact with other medications such as immunosuppressants, blood pressure drugs, and antibiotics
- Children below the age of 18 are not recommended to take over-the-counter Zinc supplements unless prescribed by a doctor.
- Do not use intranasal zinc if you choose to give your child a zinc supplement since it has been associated with the loss of the sense of smell.
Although plant-based foods have zinc, they are in low doses and often not enough to cover the daily recommended intake. You can add zinc in your child’s diet by encouraging them to consume yeast-risen whole-grain pieces of bread and soy-based foods like miso and tempeh to up their intake of this mineral. Zinc-fortified cereals and whole-grains are other options for kids who skimp eating meat and dairy products.
Please consult your family doctor or a certified nutritionist before choosing to use a zinc supplement for kids since they may experience the above-mentioned side-effects with an over dose of the mineral.
Also read: 13 Iron Rich Foods For Your Kids