If we could pick one mineral when it comes to children’s health, it would have to be zinc. There are countless benefits of zinc for kids – and for adults too!
Unfortunately, zinc deficiency is all too common in kids these days. This can contribute to a variety of health conditions and symptoms.
Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about the benefits of zinc for kids.
Why is zinc so important for kids?
Zinc is needed for all growth and development in the human body. It is involved in over 300 enzyme systems in the body, which is why it is needed for so many critical functions.
When it comes to kids health, zinc is particularly important when it comes to immunity, gut health, mood and behaviour.
Kids also have a higher demand for zinc compared to adults. They churn through a lot of zinc, particularly during growth spurts. This is why many of the symptoms and systems affected by zinc tend to be a problem for toddlers and teenagers!
Could your child be deficient in zinc?
Wondering what could indicate low zinc levels in your child? Some of the issues linked to low zinc include:
- A decreased growth rate in children
- Increased susceptibility to colds and other infections
- Impaired memory
- Learning disabilities
- Poor attention span
- Delayed cognitive development
- Loss of appetite
- Fussy eating
- Impaired sense of taste and smell
- Impaired wound healing
If your child has one or more of these issues, then it is worth considering low zinc as a culprit.
The benefits of zinc for kids
Zinc and immunity
When we think of zinc, we think immunity. It is critical for the development, function and mediation of the immune cells. Both the defensive and regulatory sides of the immune system require zinc to work efficiently.
Low zinc can contribute to:
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Slow recovery time from illness
- Development of allergies and atopic conditions
- Development of autoimmune disease
Zinc and healing
Another aspect of zinc is skin integrity and wound healing. Zinc is needed to repair damage to connective tissues, including the skin. It also calms down inflammation.
Zinc and gut health
Zinc is required for the function and structure of the mucus membranes in the gut. It supports healthy connective tissue, so plays a critical role in healing the lining of the gut wall.
Another key role is the production of stomach acid. Upper digestive issues such as reflux and heartburn are often linked to low zinc levels.
Zinc and neurological health
Zinc is one of the most prevalent nutrients in the brain, and is required for the structure and function of the brain. As our kids are still laying down the structure, they require more zinc.
Another influence is on brain chemical metabolism. Zinc plays a role in mood and behaviour. At Natural Super Kids, it is the first nutrient we look at when it comes to children with behavioural issues or challenges.
Low zinc levels are associated with problems such as depression, anxiety and even minor issues such as frequent tantrums. A healthy level of zinc helps support a calm, happy mood in kids – which is what every parent wants!
Zinc and hormones
If your child is heading towards puberty, a healthy zinc level is critical! For boys, zinc is required for the production of testosterone and helps to balance hormones. For girls, zinc promotes healthy ovulation and hormone balance.
Can you test zinc levels?
It is possible to test zinc levels via a blood test. In some cases, it can be useful to test. But unfortunately, there are a few reasons that a blood test may not reflect your child’s zinc levels accurately.
Firstly, the zinc blood test is not sensitive enough to pick up on a marginal zinc deficiency. This is the most common issue for kids, and it can still have a significant impact on their health.
Zinc levels in the blood can also vary throughout the day. If the blood test isn’t done at the right time, it may come up as higher than the true average.
Another factor that can influence the blood test results is inflammation. If your child has any health concern that involves inflammation, their results can be skewed.
That’s why we recommend working with a qualified health practitioner. They will be able to assess the likelihood of low zinc based on symptoms, intake and other factors.
Dietary sources of zinc
One way to boost your child’s zinc intake is through the diet. Include a variety of zinc-rich wholefoods such as:
- Red meat
- Shellfish such as mussels and oysters
- Nuts and seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds or pepitas
- Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans
- Wholegrains such as buckwheat, quinoa, spelt, rye and oats
Should you supplement zinc for kids?
Here at Natural Super Kids, food is always our first go-to for nutrients. But getting enough zinc for kids needs can be difficult. Many of our soils are now depleted due to intense farming methods, which means the zinc content of many foods is dropping.
If your child is vegetarian, vegan or fussy about what they eat, it is even harder to get enough zinc in. For many, a supplement is worth considering.
When you’re looking for a supplement, we recommend going for an amino acid chelate form. This form is better absorbed into the bloodstream.
The right dose depends on your child’s intake and needs. But if you suspect they could do with some extra zinc, you could start with a high-quality multivitamin. A decent multi will have around 10mg of zinc per serve, which is a good starting dose for the average child aged 4-12.
Are you worried that your child might need some extra zinc?
It’s always a good idea to get professional support when it comes to nutrients. A practitioner can help to determine any deficiencies and give you guidance around safe supplementation.
That’s why we offer online consultations to support you in a convenient way. To check out the details and book in, click here.