While zinc deficiency might seem as another nutritional deficiency, it is a major health concern in developing countries.
Zinc plays a huge role in your child’s growth. When it comes to strengthening your kid’s immune system, zinc does wonders!
Since your baby’s nutritional requirements increase as they turn 6 months old, it is crucial to pay special attention to their diet. Therefore, once your kid turns 6 months old, it’s important to start introducing zinc in their diet.
What happens if there’s a zinc deficiency in your child?
Zinc deficiency can have serious consequences along with stunted growth in your child. In fact, research has found it as a major source of childhood mortality.
Read this blog to know about the causes of zinc deficiency and how you can avoid them.
What Is Zinc Deficiency?
As the title suggests, zinc deficiency is when your body does not get the zinc mineral in adequate amounts.
Among infants, it can mainly occur from insufficient diet and diarrhea. In severe episodes of diarrhea, the child becomes unable to absorb essential nutrients like zinc leading to its deficiency in the body.
What Causes Zinc Deficiency In Kids?
As infants begin to consume solid foods on turning 6 months old, healthcare professionals recommend their zinc intake to range between 2-4 mg per day until they turn 2 years old.
Not following the suggested intake might lead to zinc deficiency in your child.
In addition, infants and younger children are generally found to be at a higher risk of this deficiency. The reason is simple- they are still growing and hence need relatively more amounts of zinc.
Once you introduce your kids to solid foods, make sure to fill their diet chart with absorbable zinc-rich foods.
Is It Common For Your Kid To Have Zinc Deficiency?
Well, if we talk about the mild and moderate levels of zinc deficiency, it’s relatively common in kids as compared to severe zinc deficiency, which is still rare.
While the mild status is associated with stunted growth, appetite reduction, and loss of immunity among kids, severe levels of it can lead to impaired growth and reproductive issues once the kid reaches adulthood.
In older adults, it can even result in delays in wound healing and disruptions in their psychological function.
How To Know If Your Kid Has Zinc Deficiency?
Your kid is likely to be zinc-deficient if they have:
- Chronic disease/illness, if any
In addition, if your baby is preterm and has been diagnosed with pica, chances are high that they may be experiencing zinc deficiency.
Here are the common symptoms of zinc deficiency to lookout for-
- Impaired immunity (recurrent fever and other infections)
- Reduced wound healing (pertaining to skin ulcers and other common wounds)
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea and Pneumonia
- Hair loss
- Skin lesions and stunted growth (in severe cases)
- Compromised taste and smell
In case of any of the above symptoms, consult your healthcare professional immediately.
For a sure diagnosis, your doctor is likely to suggest some blood tests for estimating zinc levels in your kid.
Possible Treatments For Zinc Deficiency
According to research studies, zinc has been found to be a highly essential element in terms of health intervention.
Treatment simply involves adding zinc supplements to your kid’s diet. While you do so, make sure to consult your kid’s healthcare professional for the recommended intake of zinc.
In case, your kid shows severe symptoms of diarrhea like continuous dehydration and vomiting, let your doctor know immediately.
If your child’s symptoms include skin lesions and marks on the body, your doctor is likely to suggest zinc supplements. Don’t worry, these marks are not permanent and should start disappearing within 72 hours of taking the supplement.
Zinc-Rich Foods To Include In Your Child’s Diet
When it comes to food sources for zinc-rich diets, vegetarian diets are usually quite lower in the availability of zinc as compared to non-vegetarian diets.
So, if you are a vegetarian and plan on keeping your baby one too, you might have to be extra careful in regulating zinc levels in their diet.
Here are some of the major Zinc food sources for you to include in your kid’s diet-
- Cheese and eggs
- Lentils and green vegetables
- Whole wheat bread
- Oats and cereals
- Pumpkin seeds
- Fish and salmon
As zinc deficiency can often go unrecognized in babies, it is extremely important for your child’s healthy development. Lack of zinc in your kid’s diet can end up leading to serious consequences later. So, make sure to include zinc-rich foods in their diet, and you will be good to go. If you still see any symptoms, consult your healthcare professional to put your baby on zinc supplements.
Also read: Anemia In Babies