Written by Monali Bordoloi and published on 01 July 2021.
Zinc-rich foods like legumes, seeds, nuts, yogurt, whole grains and eggs can prevent vitamin deficiencies in kids. Here is a list of zinc-rich foods which you must include in your kid's diet
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, digest nutrients present in food, to re-grow and repair body tissues.
Sheela Krishnaswamy, leading diet, nutrition and wellness consultant from Bangalore 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."
You now know that zinc is critical to our physical and mental well-being, but what else do you know about this metal?
"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."- Sheela Krishnaswamy, nutrition consultant
Zinc is a trace element that is found in cells throughout our body. It is a nutrient that is essential for a healthy immune system and smooth functioning of the brain. It also decreases the risk of certain diseases.
However, our body is not capable of producing zinc. So, we need to consume zinc-rich foods to supply our body with this essential element.
Sheela Krishnaswamy adds, "Zinc is easily available in common foods like sesame seeds, almonds, egg yolk, chana, poppy, cumin (jeera) and mustard seeds."
Benefits of zinc for your child
Although zinc is essential for the proper functioning and growth of our body, it should only be consumed in the recommended doses.
|Age-wise daily recommended allowance for Zinc|
7 months to 3 years
Since our body cannot store zinc, we have to include zinc-rich foods in our child's daily diet. Here is a list of 7 zinc-rich foods for kids:
1. Seeds: Most seeds are a rich source of zinc; however, some are more than others. 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 fiber, good fats, essential vitamins and minerals.
2. Whole grains: Your child can get his share of zinc from whole grains like wheat, oats and rice. 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 fiber, 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.
Do you know that most dairy products like low-fat milk and yogurt pack a good amount of zinc too? 4. Low-fat milk and yogurt: We all know that dairy products have plenty of calcium. But do you know that most dairy products like low-fat milk and yogurt pack a good amount of zinc too? Daily intake of milk or yogurt can fulfill your child's requirement for zinc. All you need to have is a cup of low-fat plain yogurt — 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 kids are vegetarian or following a vegan diet, legumes could still provide some amount of zinc. You can also include legumes in your family's diet for the high protein and fiber 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 do 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 diarrhea, 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 them from food sources for your child.