Supplemental Zinc for Children

Providing Support for Growth and Development
a mother giving a liquid supplement to her baby

Young children have many nutritional needs to grow and develop appropriately. Since infancy and throughout childhood, the body requires a variety of key nutrients to support constant growth and transition. One of these nutrients is the element zinc.

What is Zinc, and What Does It Do?

Zinc is an essential micronutrient for many living organisms including plants, animals, and humans. Interestingly, zinc is also the second most prevalent metal in the human body after iron and the only metal found in all types of enzymes.

The abundance of zinc within the body shows just how this element is extremely involved with a diversity of important biological functions to maintain human health.

Not only does zinc handily contribute to the structure and function of enzymes, but it also serves as a cofactor—or “helper molecule”—for an incredible quantity of more than 300 enzymes and 100 transcription factors. Additional biological processes that zinc helps with include: DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis; regulation of pituitary hormones; and cell division and proliferation—processes that all heavily influence childhood growth and development.

How is Zinc Important for Children?

Children face the greatest risk of zinc inadequacy due to increased zinc requirements during rapid periods of growth.

Benefits of Zinc

Zinc is involved with critical physiological functions from infancy to beyond, including:

  • Cognitive and motor development

    • Zinc plays a role in synaptic plasticity and in learning and can modulate brain excitability.
    • Zinc supplementation improved neuropsychological functions among children aged 6 to 9 years old.
    • Zinc supplementation is associated with better motor development in very-low-birth-weight infants.
    • Infants who took zinc supplementation are more likely to engage in physically vigorous activities (e.g., running).
  • Immune health

    • Zinc helps maintain skin and mucosal membrane integrity, which is important for wound healing.
    • Zinc has antioxidant effects to protect against damage from reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species.
    • Zinc lozenges help speed recovery from the common cold and reduce its duration.
    • When given to individuals having low levels of zinc, zinc supplementation increases the number of T-cell lymphocytes, improving the body’s ability to fight off pathogens.

How Much Zinc Should Infants and Children Take?

According to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences), infants and children should consume the recommended daily intake (RDI) of zinc to meet their nutrient requirements. Below is a table listing the average RDI of zinc in milligrams (mg) which varies across age.

Zinc RDI for Kids
Age RDI of Zinc
Infants 0 to 12 months 3 mg
Children 1 to 3 years 3 mg
Children 4+ years 11 mg

Dangers of Excessive Zinc

Taking more zinc than the recommended amount may pose a danger to the child’s health since excessive zinc may suppress copper and iron absorption.

Side effects of excessive zinc intake may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • headaches

Due to the severity of these side effects, it’s important to understand your children’s dietary needs very clearly and thoroughly to ensure they only receive safe amounts of zinc.

Where Can You Find Zinc?

Zinc can be found naturally in a wide variety of foods, such as:

  • meats
    • beef
    • pork
    • chicken
  • seafoods
    • lobster
    • oysters
  • grains
    • fortified breakfast cereal
    • oatmeal
  • dairy
    • yogurt
    • cheese
    • milk
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • peas

Surprisingly, oysters contain the greatest amount of zinc, offering a whopping 74 mg per serving!

Overall, ensuring your children receive the recommended amounts of zinc can ultimately promote a wide range of benefits for healthy growth and development.

As mentioned previously, children need a significant amount of zinc to continue growing during their formative years. If zinc-abundant oysters aren’t exactly your kid’s favorite food, it might be easier for them to take our delicious mango strawberry liquid zinc supplement. Our great-tasting ChildLife Essentials® Zinc Plus® can provide the nutrients necessary for your children’s health!§

ChildLife Essentials® Zinc Plus® offers a nutritious formulation of zinc, copper, and all-natural ingredients to promote normal growth and development.§ Taking zinc alone may cause a copper imbalance, decreasing copper absorption in the body. By combining zinc and copper in the formula, Zinc Plus® synergizes the benefits of both essential trace minerals to sustain a healthy mineral balance.§ This product also delivers all-natural ingredients to support high-quality nutrition for infants and children.§

§These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sources: 

"Copper and zinc, biological role and significance of copper/zinc imbalance" by J. Osredkar and N. Sustar, Journal of Clinical Toxicology

"Dietary zinc acts as a sleep modulator" by Y. Cherasse and Y. Urade, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2017

"Immune function and micronutrient requirements change over the life course" by S. Maggini et al.. Nutrients, 2018

"A preliminary report: effects of zinc and micronutrient repletion on growth and neuropsychological function of urban Chinese children" By J.G. Penland et al. Journal of the American College of Nutrition

"Zinc deficiency and child development" by M.M. Black, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

 "Zinc in early life: A key element in the fetus and preterm neonate" by G. Terrin et al., Nutrients

"Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review" by N. Roohani et al., .Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 2013

"Zinc supplementation in very-low-birth-weight infants" by J.K. Friel et al.Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

"Zinc treatment to under-five children: Applications to improve child survival and reduce burden of disease" by C.P. Larson et al., Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition

Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc, Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press

 

Contributor

Vicky Mak

Technical Writer, ChildLife Essentials

During her previous work as a neurobiology research assistant, Vicky fell into the habit of translating immensely difficult topics into easy-to-follow, engaging material. Her most recent focus is to continue exploring her passion for scientific communication.

When she’s not glued to her laptop, you can find Vicky attempting to play the violin or the ukulele.