Zinc for Kids: Should I Give My Kids Zinc?
If you’re a parent of a child who keeps coming home from school with the latest cold or bug, odds are you’ve wondered, “How can I better support my child’s immune system?” While the answer to this question is extremely multifaceted, zinc — an often overlooked trace mineral — may be part of the solution. We are still learning about the benefits of zinc, but a growing body of evidence points to zinc playing an important role in immune support, gut health, growth, and more.*
Discover how a children’s zinc supplement can help keep their immune system strong while also promoting healthy growth and cognitive function.*
Need a rundown on zinc and the role minerals play in our health? Our articles “What is Zinc?” and “The Importance of Minerals for the Body” can get you up to speed.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- The Benefits of Zinc for Kids
- How Much Zinc Do Kids Need?
- Best Sources of Zinc for Kids
- Supporting your Child’s Health with Zinc.
4 Zinc Benefits for Kids
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that we require throughout our lives; kids are no exception! Zinc has benefits for supporting immune function, healthy growth, cognitive development, and gut health in children.* Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits.
1. Enhances Immune Support*
Zinc (along with vitamin C) can be really helpful in supporting immunity for kids as they transition back to the classroom environment.* Having the right amount of zinc is essential for supporting the immune system and supporting a balanced systemic response.*
Zinc is required to maintain both the innate and adaptive immune system on a cellular level; a deficiency of zinc may cause these cells to form and activate incorrectly as well as disrupt intracellular communication, which is essential for mounting a coordinated immune system defense against a pathogen.
Research also connects zinc as a critical factor in supporting immune system function as well as having antioxidant properties and supporting a healthy inflammation response.* One study showed that supplementing zinc improved treatment outcomes of pneumonia in children, stabilizing oxygen levels and body temperature more quickly than placebo.
2. Helps Kids Reach Growth Milestones
Zinc is also important for supporting growth.* A systematic review and meta-analysis of 78 clinical trials found that supplemental zinc in infants and children under 5 increases specific growth outcomes, including height and weight.
Zinc deficiency is known to cause stunted growth, as zinc is involved in protein metabolism, DNA and RNA synthesis, neurotransmission, and many other functions.
3. Supports Cognitive Development
Zinc, like many essential micronutrients, supports brain and cognitive development in growing kids.* It is considered to be essential in the development of neurons (brain cells), neuronal differentiation, physical brain tissue growth (white matter), and multiple other roles in neurobiology.
A lack of zinc may contribute to changes in attention, activity, mood, behavior and motor development, especially as kids’ developing brains rapidly use up micronutrients and energy.
4. Maintains Gut Health
Zinc is also essential for supporting healthy gut function.* Zinc deficiency can lead to poor gut function and integrity, which becomes a vicious cycle as poor gut function leads to further zinc deficiency when nutrients can’t be absorbed well through the intestinal lining. Zinc can increase nutrient absorption by helping us produce stomach acid, which we need to break down food.
We all need adequate zinc levels to maintain the intestinal barrier and seal a leaky gut as well. If you’re familiar with the gut-brain connection, you’ll know that this can have a direct effect on brain and cognitive health, too.
A common sign of zinc deficiency in children can be diarrhea, and research has shown that supplementing oral zinc can be an effective treatment for diarrhea and gastroenteritis.
How Much Zinc Do Kids Need?
Zinc needs vary by age from infants to adolescents. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for zinc at different ages is listed below.
11 mg. (males)
Ideally, adequate zinc for kids is obtained from dietary sources, but supplementing zinc can be helpful when correcting a deficiency or as needed for support of key systems, like the gut and immune system. BodyBio Zinc has 1.114 mg of zinc per drop.
Breast milk provides the recommended dietary allowance of zinc until up to 6 months, after which children will need to acquire zinc through age-appropriate food.
Keep in mind that RDA nutrient guidelines are meant to merely prevent deficiency of a nutrient, not indicate the optimal amount of that nutrient for a human to thrive. Depending on their nutritional status and other health factors, a child may need more or less than the RDA for zinc. We recommend working with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine an appropriate children’s zinc dosage if you choose to supplement.
Zinc Deficiency in Children
Symptoms of zinc deficiency in children include:
- Depressed immune function
- Respiratory infections
- Stunted physical growth
- Low appetite
- Lack of alertness and focus
- Slow cognition.
Severe zinc deficiency is uncommon in developed countries, but zinc insufficiency or inadequacy may be an issue, especially since zinc is so prevalent in cellular functions throughout multiple body systems.
Best Sources of Zinc for Kids
A Zinc-Rich Diet
In an ideal world, the best source of zinc for kids would be in the foods that they eat. But not every kid is an adventurous eater and, as you can see below, many zinc-rich foods aren’t exactly staples on the average kid's menu.
Many of the best dietary sources of zinc come from meat and seafood:
- Oysters (just 3 oz. contains 74 mg of zinc!)
- Baked beans
- Pumpkin seeds
If serving the above foods is a direct invitation to a temper tantrum at the dinner table, supplements can provide an easier alternative until your little ones learn to eat a wider variety of foods.
Zinc supplementation may also be useful if your family follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, as zinc is so poorly available from plant foods.
Zinc Supplements for Kids
Whether your kid is a picky eater, is on a vegetarian diet, or needs a boost of zinc for any other reason you and your doctor determine, zinc supplements may be helpful for kids in order to:
- Boost innate and adaptive immunity*
- Support learning, focus, and attention span*
- Support physical growth*
- Improve digestion and gut function*
- Support healthy protein metabolism.*
BodyBio Liquid Zinc allows parents to easily adjust zinc dosage depending on their child’s needs and allows young children to supplement zinc in their diet without having to swallow a pill.
Every drop of BodyBio Liquid Zinc has 1.114 mg of zinc. At optimal dosages, Liquid Zinc drops should be tasteless or slightly sweet. If you detect a strong, unpleasant taste even at the lowest dose, that means that your body doesn’t need this mineral right now.
Liquid Zinc can be easily added to a glass of water or juice, a smoothie, or even purees and soups. While it is less likely to cause the digestive upset that many other zinc supplements are known for, we do recommend taking our Liquid Zinc with food.
Supporting Your Child’s Health With Zinc for Kids
As parents, you just want your children to feel safe and supported while at school, and to be able to learn and grow and enjoy socializing with their classmates and friends. Children may be resilient, but setting them up for success with the right immune, cognitive, and gut support can keep them healthy and ready to learn.
Check out BodyBio’s Liquid Zinc for Kids today!