Zinc Deficiency in Children: Signs, Causes, Test, and Treatment
Are you wondering if your child is zinc deficient? Read below to know the signs, causes, and how to test and treat zinc deficiency.
Why zinc is important
Zinc is an essential mineral for the growth and development of children. It plays a critical role in strengthening the immune system, supporting healthy skin, hair, nail growth, and is necessary for optimal nervous system function.
Signs of a zinc deficiency
- Lowered immunity: Frequent colds and flus and the inability to recover fully after an illness
- Dry, brittle, and cracking nails
- Hair loss and thinning
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
- Loss of appetite
What are causes of zinc deficiency?
- Lack of zinc-containing foods in the diet
- Digestive issues leading to decreased absorption of essential nutrients
How to test for zinc deficiency?
Most naturopathic doctors will offer a zinc tally test to assess zinc deficiency. It involves gargling a small amount of water containing 5 mg of zinc-sulfate for 10 seconds then swallowing.
There are zinc receptors in your taste buds. If you have normal levels of zinc, you will taste a strong, metallic flavour and your tongue may feel a furry sensation. People who are deficient in zinc will not taste anything!
After 3 months of zinc supplementation and incorporating zinc-containing foods into their diet, I have them repeat the test and they are shocked when they taste the metallic flavour that was absent when they were zinc deficient.
What if my child is zinc deficient?
I recommend increasing foods in the diet that are high in zinc including: nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, eggs, oatmeal, beans, and chickpeas.
Supplementing kids with zinc may be necessary; however you should consult with your health care provider for the recommended dosage based on your child’s age. Excess amounts of zinc can be harmful.
Supporting a healthy digestive tract function is a primary part of the treatment of zinc deficiency and will help prevent against other nutrient deficiencies by optimizing your child’s ability to digest and absorb their food.
Dr. Ellen Simone, Naturopath