Saturday 25 January 2020


Zinc deficiency is defined as an insufficient zinc or serum zinc level below the normal range  to meet the needs of the body. In humans, zinc deficiency is caused by reduced dietary intake, inadequate absorption, increased loss, or increased body system utilization. According to an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, about 1.1 billion people are zinc-deficient due to inadequate dietary intakes worldwide. Its deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function. In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions. Recently, zinc deficiency has been linked to decreased growth, increased colds and infections, impaired memory, learning disabilities, and poor attention span. 
    Data shows that zinc deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in the world. Along with low levels of iron, iodine, folate and vitamin A, zinc deficiency is a common contributor to poor growth, intellectual impairments, perinatal complications, and increased risk of morbidity and mortality, according to research published in Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. Zinc deficiency is such a serious global problem that it’s responsible for 176,000 diarrhea deaths, 406,000 pneumonia deaths and 207,000 malaria deaths — primarily in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia.

   Zinc is important for numerous functions and supports growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. From birth, infants are confronted with massive amounts of information from multiple sources. They learn to differentiate relevant from irrelevant information so they can focus their attention on the information necessary for their growth and development. Zinc present in the brain contributes to its structure and function. Like iron and iodine, Its deficiency can lead to long-term deficits in children’s neuropsychologic functioning, motor development or activity, behaviour, attention and thus interfere with cognitive development.

 The recommended daily intake of children is as follows:

0–6 months 2 mg*
7–12 months 3 mg
1–3 years 3 mg
4–8 years 5 mg

N:B: Breast milk provides sufficient zinc (2 mg/day) for the first 4–6 months of life but does not provide recommended amounts of zinc for infants aged 7–12 months, who need 3 mg/day.

The highest concentration of dietary zinc is found in red meat and poultry. Other good food sources include beans, nuts,  certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals.

Tips to make zinc more available in the daily diets. 

  • Soak legumes (beans) in water before cooking them. This reduces the presence of phytates, making it easier for the body to process the zinc.
  • Choose leavened grain products can also help reduce the number of phytates, increasing the amount of zinc for the body to use.

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