Zinc is an essential mineral and one of the most important nutrients for rapidly growing bodies. It’s involved in the healthy growth and development of children as it’s required for building new tissues. Zinc is also needed for the activity of more than 100 different enzymes in the body and plays a role in:
- Immune function – Zinc aids in the maintenance of healthy immune function in kids and may reduce the frequency of mild upper respiratory tract infections. When zinc intake is insufficient it may lead to poor immune function and increase the susceptibility to illness.
- The development of cartilage and bone – Zinc promotes the formation of collagen to support the building of bones and maintenance of bone strength, and assists with the development of cartilage for healthy joints.
- Metabolising carbohydrates, fats and protein – Zinc is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein and is therefore important for getting the most out of the food children eat.
- Minor wound healing – Zinc is an essential for wound healing. It’s therefore especially valuable for kids as they are prone to minor scrapes and grazes.
- Maintaining a healthy appetite – Adequate zinc helps maintain a healthy appetite. When zinc is insufficient over a period of time it can result in a diminished appetite,1 which isn’t ideal for kids who are growing rapidly and are often already fussy eaters.
- The structure of proteins and cell membranes ‐ Zinc is an important factor in the maintenance of good health.
- Antioxidant activities ‐ Zinc has antioxidant properties and may help to reduce free radical damage in the body.
How much zinc does my child need?
It’s recommended that kids between the ages of one and three obtain 3mg of zinc daily, children between the ages of four and eight have 4mg daily and kids between nine and 13 years of age have 6mg every day. This can be achieved through a healthy diet or topped up with a zinc supplement.
What are good sources of zinc for kids?
Oysters contain more zinc than any other food,2 but it’s highly likely that your kids will turn their noses up at these chewy and slimy shellfish. Zinc can also be found in the following kid‐friendly foods:
- Pork chops
- Baked beans
- Chicken breast
- Cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss cheese
- Kidney beans
- Crab and lobster
Despite your best efforts it may be possible that your children aren’t getting the zinc they need from their diet alone due to fussy eating patterns or other factors. To top up their diet and ensure they have the zinc their growing bodies require, a specialised kids’ multivitamin with zinc may be beneficial. This will support their healthy growth and development, immune function, metabolism, bone health and minor wound healing, and help give them the best start to life.