Kids Corner: The importance of zinc + a recipe!
There seem to be some common ailments affecting the health of our young ones today. The themes that we often seeing running through the clinic include:
- Eczema/psoriasis/other skin conditions
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Behavioural issues – including ADD, ADHD, mood disturbances, general bad or fussy behaviour (this list unfortunately goes on!)
- Gastroenterological complaints
- Poor immune function – frequent colds, ear infections, sore throats
While these conditions are certainly influenced by a number of factors, the key nutrient we will focus on today is zinc.
Zinc is one of the most fundamental minerals required, due to its broad range of actions including;
- as a precursor and catalyst for enzyme reactions
- its structural role in proteins and cell membranes
- its function in cell signalling and DNA transcription.
In other words, it is super important for most processes in the body!
So what foods can I give my child that are high in zinc?
Unfortunately (unless your child likes them…) the richest food source of zinc is oysters, with a whopping 30-50mg per half dozen serve. Luckily there are other food sources that are generally more favoured including:
- Grass fed beef and lamb – 5.8mg per 85g serve
- Pork and chicken – 2.5mg per 85g serve
- Liver – 3.6mg per 70g serve
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – 2.9 mg per 28g serve
- Tahini – 1.5 mg per tablespoon
- Cashews & pecans – 1.5mg per 28g serve
- Cow’s milk – 1mg per 250mL
- Baked beans – 1.8g per half cup serve
As a general rule, zinc is higher and more bioavailable in animal foods than it is in plant foods. This is due to the fact that in animal foods it is found alongside the amino acids cysteine and methionine which increase its absorption, whereas in plants it is bound up with phytic acid which inhibits the absorption.
So why would my child be missing out on zinc in his/her diet?
There are a few reasons why kids may be zinc deficient. Firstly, they simply aren’t eating enough of the right foods. Even then, when they are consuming the right foods, our modern processing methods as well as the state of our soil and rearing of livestock has led to a lower zinc content in the foods!
If your child has any of the conditions listed above, then their need for zinc will be greatly increased, which if not met will result in a deficiency. Furthermore, if they suffer from any malabsorption or digestive problems, then their zinc status will be lowered.
Should I just give my child a zinc supplement then?
The short answer here is no. Just like everything in life, the key is balance, and unfortunately becoming too high in zinc can pose just as many health issues as a deficiency. Including zinc containing foods is the best way to ensure they are getting an adequate daily intake of zinc, however if you are still concerned that your child has a deficiency, seek professional advice from one of our experienced team.
Kid friendly zinc bombs (bliss balls!) - they’re adult friendly too!
- 150g activated cashews
- 150g activated pecans
- 1 scoop vanilla protein or collagen powder
- 15 medjool dates (pitted)
- 50g pepitas
- 30g sesame seeds
- 100g tahini
- 50g carob powder (or cacao if you prefer)
- Desiccated coconut or crushed nuts for rolling
- Place nuts into food processor or Thermomix bowl. Grind until thoroughly crushed, but not the consistency of flour
- Add dates, blend until they are pureed and sticky
- Add remaining ingredients and process until combined. The mixture should be quite sticky, but easy to work with
- Once mixture is prepared, take roughly 1tbsp quantities and form into balls. If they are too sticky to roll, you may like to refrigerate the mix for a few minutes.
- Cover with desiccated coconut or nuts and enjoy!
Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks… if they last that long!