The trace element zinc strengthens the immune system and thus prevents infections and deadly infectious diseases – also in children. And even if children fall ill despite zinc-containing food supplements, zinc still reduces their risk of death. The daily zinc requirement cannot easily be met through food alone, which is why dietary supplements are important in the case of a zinc-poor diet or a proven zinc deficiency.
Zinc reduces the risk of death from infections
Zinc supplementation may reduce the risk of death from diarrhea and lower respiratory tract infections in children. At the same time, it can protect against diarrheal diseases in advance, so they don’t even get a chance.
In tropical developing countries, zinc supplementation in the diet could even reduce the risk of dying from malaria.
This was determined by an international team of researchers in the meta-analysis of eighty scientific studies. In total, data from more than 200,000 children between the ages of six months and twelve years were included.
Zinc thus strengthens the immune system and thus prevents infections.
It also prevents growth disorders, since the trace element stimulates growth.
Zinc deficiency can be fatal
Especially in developing and emerging countries, many children and young people suffer from zinc deficiency.
Evelyn S. Chan of the University of Oxford and her colleagues who also contributed to the study emphasize that this is the reason for the high incidence of diarrhea, malaria, and respiratory diseases in children in these countries.
Zinc deficiency is one of the reasons why a large proportion of these infections are fatal.
A zinc deficiency can also cause growth disorders. To combat this problem, however, the researchers believe that a higher-calorie diet makes more sense than a zinc-containing supplement alone.
In the western industrial nations, more and more people are also affected by zinc deficiency. Because of better medical care, the consequences here are not as dramatic as in the Third World.
Nevertheless, Central European parents should also take the study results to heart.
This is how you cover your child’s daily zinc requirements
The World Health Organization recommends that infants should consume five milligrams of zinc daily and children before puberty ten milligrams.
Most foods high in zinc are of animal origin and are rarely eaten by children.
A number of plant-based foods that contain zinc are also rich in substances that inhibit zinc absorption.
With a low-zinc diet and a high susceptibility to infections, it is, therefore, worthwhile to have the zinc status checked in addition to the vitamin D level and, if necessary, to take appropriate food supplements.
It is important to pay attention to the correct dosage, which is best discussed with your doctor or naturopath.