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Zinc Deficiency in Children

Zinc Deficiency in Children

Zinc is one of the most vital minerals required for the healthy growth of children. Its deficiency can lead to various disorders, ranging from stunted growth, hair loss, to mental instability, etc. This article expounds on its effects, symptoms, and sources.
Amruta Deshpande
Our body needs substantial amount of minerals for its proper growth and maintenance. Calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, and potassium are needed in required quantities for different functions. Along with these macro minerals, zinc is probably the most vital mineral needed by the body. It plays a critical role in the healthy growth of a child. Deficiency of zinc can lead to various childhood disorders.
What is Zinc Deficiency?
Zinc deficiency can lead to several growth and development-related problems in a child. The recommended daily intake of zinc is 5mg/day for infants, 8 mg/day for children of the age group 9 to 11, and 11 mg/day for adolescent and adult males. Milk, chicken, lamb, turkey, and seafood are its primary sources. However, a vegetarian can avail it from grains, cereals, legumes, yeast, peanuts, potato, etc.
It is extremely important for the growth and development of the body. Its deficiency at a younger age can lead to retardation of growth, resulting in dwarfism or stunted growth. The child may also be underweight for his age. It plays a crucial role in proper utilization of calcium and magnesium in the body. Bones contain it, and its reduced levels can make them thicker and shorter, resulting in severe pain in the joints.
It's also required to build a strong immune system for the body. Its deficiency can lead to delayed healing of wounds, and can cause a number of skin disorders like acne and eczema. It is required for the smooth functioning of oil glands in the skin. Lack of it makes the skin rough, dry, and prone to various allergic reactions. White spots on the nails are an indicator of zinc deficiency.
It is important for the normal functioning of the brain as well. The part of the brain that is responsible for controlling emotions requires adequate levels of zinc. Its deficiency in children can cause brain disorders, and can lead to mild or severe retardation, dyslexia, and other problems associated with mental development. It can also lead to mental fatigue and depression in children.
Mental diseases like epilepsy and schizophrenia are also closely associated with its deficiency. Lack of it can have a significant effect on emotional and addictive behavior, like alcoholism or obsession. In some cases, its deficiency has been responsible for antisocial behavior, such as criminality and delinquency. Hence, it is very important to provide your child with a diet rich in zinc.
Signs and Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
  • Hair loss
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased growth rate
  • Fatigue
  • White spots under finger nails
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Rough skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss