Can your child be deficient in zinc?

We know that children need a balanced diet, containing good protein, fats and carbohydrates, in order to function and learn efficiently.  We also tend to worry about vitamin levels so many families take vitamin supplements.  Many of us are, however, less concerned about the levels of certain vital minerals in our children’s growing bodies.

Dr John McKenna, who worked for years in South Africa, found in his medical practice that trace element deficiencies are more common than vitamin deficiencies. Of the trace elements, he found zinc deficiency to be one of the most common.   This is important in the light of the role zinc plays in the human body. It is a major protector of the immune system and an important disease fighter, especially viral infections which are not much helped by available medications.

Signs of a zinc deficiency include growth retardation, poor appetite, mental lethargy and increased susceptibility to infections.  If your child has a poor appetite, Dr McKenna advises you to suspect a zinc deficiency.

There are no adverse effects associated with low-dos zinc supplementation, although mega doses of zinc may have a negative effect on the immune system.  Dr McKenna recommends a daily intake of 10-15 mg in children (and double this for adults).  He suggests supplementation of zinc for a period of three-months.

Following a more natural approach, you may want to increase your family’s intake of foods rich in zinc. These include whole grain cereals and legumes (beans and peas).  Oysters are also high in this substance but few of us consume these on a regular basis!


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