Zinc is found throughout the body and is vital for cell division as well as for wound healing. Kids need 5 mg of zinc in their daily diet. Below is a list of foods with the highest zinc concentrations to offer your child.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is necessary to promote immunity, protein synthesis and wound healing. A zinc deficiency has also been associated with damage to DNA. Zinc is vital for healthy growth and development through the childhood years and the best way to meet your child’s needs is to include foods that contain zinc. The recommended daily amount of zinc for 4-8 year olds is 5mg per day.
The list below shows the foodstuffs that contain the highest levels of zinc. When looking at this list, please bear in mind that it contains nuts and seeds. Children aged 3 to 5 can handle eating some nuts (providing they don’t have an allergy) and seeds without the potential of choking. However, you should still avoid giving children this age whole nuts and seeds, as they may still pose a choking hazard. Instead, cut nuts into smaller pieces, or grind them and sprinkle on other foods, such as yogurts or ice cream. Seeds should also be hulled before being given to children. After being hulled, they can also be ground and added to salads, soups or stews.
Zinc deficiency is rare in developed countries, but if it appears in your child, it is most likely due to an inadequate amount in their diet. If you are in any way concerned, your doctor can perform a simple blood test to check their zinc levels. Children who don’t receive enough zinc in their diet may exhibit signs of tiredness and lethargy, appetite loss and suffer from poor immunity. Severe cases can result in hair loss, weight loss, diarrhoea, impaired wound healing, mental dysfunction, problems with sense of taste and skin disorders. Certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as Coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease, may also cause a zinc deficiency in children, as can sickle cell anaemia. Since zinc is found in many types of meat and animal products, a toddler who follows a vegetarian diet may develop a zinc deficiency due to the exclusion of these foods.
A zinc deficiency is typically treated by increasing your toddler’s intake by including foodstuffs that are rich in zinc. Once diagnosed, your doctor may decide to prescribe a supplement. You should never give your child a zinc supplement (or indeed a supplement of any nature) without at first consulting a medical professional.
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