Zinc for Kids: How This Mineral Supports Immunity and Promotes Healthy Growth*
If you’re the parent of a child heading back to school this fall, odds are you’ve wondered, “How can I support my child’s immune system?” Even without a global pandemic, the transition from summer back to the classroom exposes kids to a surge of bacteria and viruses both in the air and on shared surfaces. But kids are resilient, and with the right immune support, they can start the new school year off healthy and ready to learn.
Making sure your child is getting enough zinc, a key micronutrient, can help support their immune system strong while also supporting healthy growth and cognitive function*.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- The benefits of zinc for kids
- How much zinc do kids need?
- Best sources of zinc for kids
- Supporting your child’s health with zinc.
Benefits of Zinc for Kids
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that we require throughout our lives; kids are no exception! Zinc has benefits for supporting immune function, healthy growth, cognitive development, and gut health in children.* Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits.
Enhanced Immune Support*
Zinc (along with vitamin C) can be a really helpful in supporting immunity for kids as they transition back to the classroom environment .* Having the right amount of zinc is essential for supporting the immune system and supporting a balanced systemic response .*
Zinc is required to maintain both the innate and adaptive immune system on a cellular level; a deficiency of zinc may cause these cells to form and activate incorrectly as well as disrupt intracellular communication, which is essential for mounting a coordinated immune system defense against a pathogen .
Research also connects zinc as a critical factor to supporting immune system function  as well as having antioxidant properties and supporting a healthy inflammation response .* One study showed that supplementing zinc improved treatment outcomes of pneumonia in children, stabilizing oxygen levels and body temperature more quickly than placebo .
Helps Kids Reach Growth Milestones
Zinc is also important for supporting growth.* A systematic review and meta-analysis of 78 clinical trials found that supplemental zinc in infants and children under 5 increases specific growth outcomes, including height and weight.
Zinc deficiency is known to cause stunted growth, as zinc is involved in protein metabolism, DNA and RNA synthesis, neurotransmission, and many other functions .
Supports Cognitive Development
Zinc, like many essential micronutrients, supports brain and cognitive development in growing kids .* It is considered to be essential in the development of neurons (brain cells), neuronal differentiation, physical brain tissue growth (white matter), and multiple other roles in neurobiology [9, 10].
A lack of zinc may contribute to changes in attention, activity, mood, behavior and motor development, especially as kids’ developing brains rapidly use up micronutrients and energy .
Maintains Gut Health
Zinc is also essential for supporting healthy gut function.* Zinc deficiency can lead to poor gut function and integrity, which becomes a vicious cycle as poor gut function leads to further zinc deficiency when nutrients can’t be absorbed well through the intestinal lining . Zinc can increase nutrient absorption by helping us produce stomach acid, which we need to break down food.
We all need adequate zinc levels to maintain the intestinal barrier and seal a leaky gut as well . If you’re familiar with the gut-brain connection, you’ll know that this can have a direct effect on brain and cognitive health, too.
A common sign of zinc deficiency in children can be diarrhea, and research has shown that supplementing oral zinc can be an effective treatment for diarrhea and gastroenteritis [x, x].
How Much Zinc Do Kids Need?
Zinc needs vary by age from infants to adolescents . The Recommended Dietary Allowance for zinc at different ages is listed below:
- 0–6 months: 2 mg
- 7–12 months: 3 mg
- 1–3 years: 3 mg
- 4–8 years: 5 mg
- 9–13 years: 8 mg
- 14–18 years: 11 mg (male); 9 mg (female).
Ideally, adequate zinc is obtained from dietary sources, which we’ll discuss in a minute. But supplementing zinc can be helpful when correcting a deficiency or as needed for support of key systems, like the gut and immune system. BodyBio Zinc has 1.114 mg of zinc per drop.
Another thing to be mindful of is that RDA nutrient guidelines are meant to merely prevent deficiency of a nutrient, not indicate the optimal amount of that nutrient for a human to thrive. Depending on their nutritional status and other health factors, a child may need more or less than the RDA for zinc. We recommend working with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine an appropriate zinc dosage for your child if you choose to supplement.
Zinc Deficiency in Children
Zinc deficiency in kids looks like [15, 14]:
- Depressed immune function
- Respiratory infections
- Stunted physical growth
- Low appetite
- Lack of alertness and focus
- Slow cognition.
Severe zinc deficiency is pretty uncommon in developed countries, but zinc insufficiency or inadequacy may be an issue, especially since zinc is so prevalent in cellular functions throughout multiple body systems.
Best Sources of Zinc for Kids
A Zinc-Rich Diet
Many of the best dietary sources of zinc come from meat and seafood:
- Oysters (just 3 oz. contains 74 mg of zinc!)
- Baked beans
- Pumpkin seeds
As you might have already noticed if you’re a parent, many of these foods aren’t exactly your average kid’s first choice, making zinc supplements an easier option until they learn to eat a wider variety of foods. Because zinc is so poorly available from plant foods, your child may be at risk for zinc insufficiency or even deficiency if they consume a vegetarian or vegan diet . This is another case where zinc supplementation may be useful.
Zinc Supplements for Kids
Zinc supplements may be helpful for kids in order to:
- Boost innate and adaptive immunity*
- Support learning, focus, and attention span*
- Support physical growth*
- Improve digestion and gut function*
- Support healthy protein metabolism.*
BodyBio Liquid Zinc allows parents to easily adjust zinc dosage depending on the child’s needs, and allows young children to supplement zinc in their diet without having to swallow a pill. Every drop of BodyBio Liquid Zinc has 1.114 mg of zinc. is At your personalized optimal dose, Liquid Zinc drops are tasteless or slightly sweet (if you detect a strong, unpleasant taste even at the lowest dose, your body doesn’t need this mineral right now) and can be easily added to a glass of water or juice, a smoothie, or even purees and soups. Liquid Zinc is less likely to cause the digestive upset that many zinc supplements are known for, but we do recommend taking them with food.
Learn more about BodyBio Liquid Minerals and mineral taste testing here.
For a synergistic effect, you may want to also consider adding supplemental vitamin C crystals. Research supports the specific combination of zinc and vitamin C for supporting child development and supporting the immune system [1, 17].*
Supporting Your Child’s Health With Zinc
Back to school season can bring up a number of concerns for parents about their children’s health and wellbeing, on both a physical and mental level. As parents, you just want your children to feel safe and supported while at school, and to be able to learn and grow and enjoy socializing with their classmates and friends.
By supporting your child’s (immune, cognitive and gut) health with zinc, they can kick off the school year right and you can know that they’re nutritionally ready for a new environment and a new chapter.