Do you know that a lack of minerals like zinc could lead to learning disabilities and memory problems in your child? Here are some foods loaded with zinc, to give your little one.
By Monali Bordoloi
Did you know that breast milk contains a small amount of zinc? It helps the newborn build immunity. Zinc is essential for your child’s overall development as it is required to produce proteins and DNA for the body. It is also needed to digest nutrients present in food. Zinc is essential for building the immune system and to re-grow and repair body tissues. Young children in the age group of 4–8 years need around five mg of zinc daily.
Sheela Krishnaswamy, leading diet, nutrition and wellness consultant from Bengaluru says, “Zinc is important to maintain immunity and protect against infections. It is also an important part of many enzymes and plays a role in wound healing.”
Our body does not store zinc, so our requirement for it must be met through our daily food intake. Sheela Krishnaswamy adds, "Zinc is easily available in common foods like sesame seeds, almonds, egg yolk, chana, poppy, cumin (jeera) and mustard seeds.”
1. Seeds: Most seeds are a rich source of zinc; however, some seeds are better options. Seeds like sesame, hemp, mustard, pumpkin and chia seeds have an ample amount of zinc. Seeds are an excellent addition to your child’s diet as they contain fibre, good fats, essential vitamins and minerals.
2. Whole grains: Your child can get his share of zinc from whole grains like wheat, oats, rice and quinoa. However, keep in mind that grains contain an anti-nutrient called phytate, which reduces the absorption of zinc by the body. Whole grains are still preferred as it provides other important nutrients like fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and selenium. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial for your child too.
3. Meat: All meats have generous amounts of zinc. Go for skinless poultry or lean cuts of meat with fewer fats to get your quota of zinc.
4. Low-fat milk and yoghurt: We all know that dairy products have plenty of calcium. But do you know that most dairy products like low-fat milk and yoghurt pack a good amount of zinc too? Daily intake of milk or yoghurt can fulfil your child's requirement for zinc. All you need to have is a cup of low-fat plain yoghurt — it has 2.2mg of zinc.
5. Legumes: If your child is zinc-deficient, give him boiled chickpeas as snacks. All kinds of legumes, lentils, beans have an abundant amount of zinc. However, absorption of the zinc found in legumes is less, because of the presence of the anti-nutrient, phytates. If your children are vegetarian or following a vegan diet, legumes could still provide some amount of zinc. You can also include legumes in your diet for their high protein and fibre content.
6. Seafood: Oysters are the best choice for fulfilling your zinc requirements. A medium-sized oyster contains around 5.3mg of zinc. Lobsters and crabs also have a large amount of zinc.
7. Nuts: Nuts like almonds are an excellent source of zinc. Use roasted nuts like cashews, peanuts, walnuts as snacks for your hungry teenage children.
Are excessive amounts of zinc bad for your child?
Small amounts of zinc that you get from food does not harm your child. However, be careful if your child is having zinc from vitamin supplements. An excessive amount of zinc from supplements could cause diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and headaches. Long-term use of zinc supplements could lead to toxicity.
The amount of zinc your child need may be minimal but zinc deficiency could lead to many development issues. Zinc supplements are available in the market, however, it always good to get it from food sources for your child.
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