Zinc is a trace element mineral that is essential to maintain health. All living things need zinc in order to grow.
We have known about the importance of zinc for plant growth since the late 1800’s but it wasn’t until 1961 that it was discovered that zinc is essential to human health and is especially important in the healthy development of children.
Zinc is found in every cell of the human body. It is essential for the synthesis of proteins and DNA and gene development. It is important for normal growth development and maintenance of your body’s tissue and immune system.
Zinc is a natural antioxidant and aids over 300 enzymes that work in several different functions including metabolism, digestion and reproduction.
Zinc is also considered an antibacterial and antiviral and is known to help reduce healing time in a range of infections from the common cold to pneumonia and severe diarrhea
Zinc deficiency can have devastating effects on children. According to the International Zinc Initiative, zinc deficiency ranks among the ten biggest risk factors contributing to disease of children in developing countries. Zinc deficiency is also responsible for cognitive and growth issues in children.
Although there is less worry of zinc deficiency in North America, it is believed that due to depletion of soil and over processing of food, there is less naturally occurring zinc in our food, and, because it is a trace mineral, the body can not manufacture zinc. It must come from an outside source.
Zinc in Food
The food richest in zinc include red meat, poultry and some seafood. Lentils and nuts contain zinc as does whole grains and dairy. If you do not eat meat, it is prudent to take a zinc supplement.
Giving your kids a daily multivitamin that includes zinc helps ensure they are getting the appropriate amount in their daily diet.