Did you know that breast milk contains very little zinc?
Did you know zinc is essential to our physical and mental well-being?
Did you know Zinc is essential for wound healing especially for kids who are more prone to minor cuts and scratches frequently?
Several concerns for parents concerning the physical and mental health and well-being of their children. As a parent, you just want your child to be safe and nourished, have adequate growth & development.
Supporting your child's health, such as immune, cognitive, and gut with zinc, is one of the ideal nutritionally healthy ways to be healthy.
For a better understanding of the importance of this nutrient in a child's diet, let's learn the health benefits & wonder about zinc-rich foods!
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in a child's growth and also helps strengthen the immune system & nervous system and the development of reproductive organs in children. This nutrient is also an important component of many enzymes (more than 70 digestive enzymes) to help regulate digestion and metabolism in the body.
Zinc is beneficial for newborns to build immunity and is essential for your child's overall development as it is necessary for the production of protein and DNA for the body, absorption of nutrients found in food, regrowth, and repair of body tissues, or wound healing.
However, our body is not able to produce zinc. So children need to consume foods rich in zinc to provide their body with this essential element.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc
RDA of Zinc for children are-
0-6 months - 2 mg/d
7-36 months - 3 mg/d
4-8 years - 5 mg/day
9-13 years - 8 mg/day
Benefits of zinc
The benefits of zinc in children are-
- Promoting healthy height and weight range.
- Supporting cognitive development such as improving mood, concentration, learning ability, and memory, and preventing ADHD.
- Acting as an immunity-boosting agent to protect your child from infections.
- Beneficial in wound healing and preventing age-related macular degeneration.
- Beneficial in treating colds and diarrhea.
- Preventing retinal damage and vision loss.
- Acting as a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce free radical damage and the risk of cancer in children.
- Aiding the body in producing protein and DNA.
- Zinc ointment benefits while applied to children's skin to relieve diaper rash and prevent sunburn.
- Supporting the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Foods that are rich in zinc
Parents can increase the zinc intake in their child's diet through natural food sources to your child's diet. These foods are-
- Breast milk is best for infants to fulfill zinc requirements.
- Dairy products such as Low-fat milk and yogurt are good sources of zinc.
- Nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts are excellent sources of zinc and snacks for your hungry children.
- Seeds such as sesame, mustard, pumpkin, and chia seeds are rich sources of zinc including fiber, good fats, essential vitamins, and minerals.
- Meat such as skinless poultry or lean cuts meat with fewer fats is an excellent source of zinc.
- Seafood is also the best choice for fulfilling zinc requirements in your child's diet.
- Whole grains such as **wheat, oats, **and rice are packed with essential nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium. While they also contain an anti-nutrient called phytate that can reduce zinc absorption, they are still a great choice for your child's overall health..
- Legumes such as lentils, beans are rich in zinc, but their absorption is limited due to the presence of anti-nutrients like phytates. Boiled chickpeas can be a good snack for zinc-deficient children.
- Zinc-fortified products such as cereals and whole grains.
Deficiency of Zinc
Zinc intake is closely related to protein intake, Therefore, zinc deficiency is an important component of diet-related morbidity in children.
Zinc deficiency can lead to
- Deficits in neuropsychological function such as attention, memory, perception, motivation, mood state and emotion, quality of life, and other developmental disorders.
- Poor motor development such as physical growth and strengthening of a child's bones, muscles, and ability to move in children
- Impair cognitive performance such as mental abilities, including learning, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, decision making, and thinking abilities.
- Poor Appetite - Prolonged zinc deficiency can cause a decrease in appetite, which is not ideal for children who grow up quickly and often eat aimlessly.
Symptoms of severe zinc deficiency include stunted growth, primary hypogonadism, skin disorders, taste and smell disorders, and impaired immunity and resistance to infection.
Side effects of Zinc
- Excessive zinc supplements can cause harm, such as nausea, diarrhea, and headaches
- Long-term use of zinc supplements can lead to toxicity
- Zinc deficiency can cause developmental problems in children
- Zinc supplements are available, but it's better to get them from dietary sources.
Children under the age of 18 are not recommended to take zinc supplements without a prescription unless directed by a doctor.
Zinc is an essential nutrient for a child's health as it allows healthy growth, cognitive development, and gut health. It also allows the immune system to protect against diseases or illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses.
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