Are your kids getting enough zinc? Are you? And how would you know?
Signs that kids are low in zinc :
Behavioural issues/Difficulty concentrating/ADHD
Low immunity (catches colds and flus/bugs often)
Slow recovery from infections
White spots on the nails (most common in adults, but can happen with kids too)
Why zinc is needed
Kids have a massive need for zinc (we all do, actually). It plays a fundamental role in the growth, development and repair of the body. A zinc deficiency can lead to reduced appetite and picky eating. Zinc is also required for producing stomach acid, so a deficiency can cause digestive symptoms that contribute to fussiness.
Where zinc is found
Zinc can be found in red meat, fish and seafood, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, adzuki beans, pine nuts, cashew nuts, white beans and black beans. So if they’re not consuming these foods regularly, they are at a high risk of deficiency.
If your kids don’t eat meat regularly, chances are they have very low zinc levels. (Unless you’re already adding a zinc supplement to their diet. The reason for this is that meat is rich in zinc, where processed food and sugar/sugary foods contain no zinc, and even plant-based diets (vegan/vegetarian) are notoriously low low in zinc – this is because the phytic acid in legumes and beans binds to zinc stopping it from being absorbed in the body – and most nuts and seeds contain high levels of copper; which also interferes with the absorption of zinc (with the exception of pumpkin seeds).
The best non- meat source of zinc is pumpkin seeds – which most kids generally are not eating (judging by the countless lunchboxes I’ve seen). But, you can easily incorporate these into their diet by grinding them in a coffee grinder and sprinkling them on top of their breakfast (especially if they are enjoy porridge), or adding them to smoothies or trail mix. The great thing about pumpkin seeds is that they’re seeds, not nuts, so they can even be taken to schools that have a “no nuts” policy.
However if your kids are deficient to the point of fussy eating, they’re likely to need a supplement. Your best option is working with a health practitioner to suggest a good brand and dose for your child’s needs.
Signs that adults are low in zinc :
Skin issues (acne, eczema etc)
White spots on fingernails
Loss of taste and smell
You may have one, or a collection of these symptoms. And a good thing to know is that not all zinc supplements/forms are created equal. This is why speaking to a practitioner like myself is the best way to ensure you get on the correct form and dose.
If any of these symptoms have raised a red flag for you, perhaps it’s time to book a consult with me? I’d love to help you get on top of any health issues you’re having.