zinc benefits for immune system

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral and extremely important for our body. Here you will find everything you need to know about zinc, zinc deficiency and how to avoid zinc deficiency.

Table of Contents

What role does Zinc play in the human body?

Zinc is one of the essential trace elements in the human body. Since the body cannot produce zinc itself, it is very important to get zinc from food and/or supplements.

In total, around 300 enzymes need the mineral zinc to work properly. This means that zinc is involved in numerous processes in the human body, including metabolic processes.

For example:

  • the breakdown and production of fats, proteins and carbohydrates

Through this task

  • zinc also affects the skin,
  • can support the body’s defenses and
  • regulate the acid-base balance in the blood.

Effects also arise on

  • the eyes
  • the sense of taste and
  • hormones such as insulin, thyroid or growth hormones.

Daily Zinc requirements

The zinc requirement varies depending on physical activity and can only partially be estimated (for infants). The following table is therefore only an orientation. From the age of 15 it is recommended for men to consume 10 mg zinc daily. Women aged 15 and over should take 7 mg a day. Pregnant women need about 10 mg of zinc from the fourth month, breastfeeding women about 11 mg per day. In children, it depends on the age which amount of zinc is recommended. Read more about zinc for children in the section below. It is often not so easy to cover the actual zinc requirement with the daily intake of food. If there is a zinc deficiency, taking zinc tablets can make sense.

Baby Male Female
0 to under 4 months 0.5 mg / day 0.5 mg / day
4 to under 12 months 2.0 mg / day 2.0 mg / day
The ideal zinc requirement for children
1 to under 4 years 3.0 mg / day 3.0 mg / day
4 to under 7 years 5.0 mg / day 5.0 mg / day
7 to under 10 years 7.0 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
10 to under 13 years 9.0 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
13 to under 15 years 9.5 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
Adolescents and adults
15 to under 19 years 10 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
19 to under 25 years 10 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
25 to under 51 years 10 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
51 to under 65 years 10 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
65 years and older 10 mg / day 7.0 mg / day
Pregnant women
from the 4th month
10 mg / day
Breastfeeding 11 mg / day

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Zinc Deficiency Causes

Zinc deficiency occurs when the body cannot get enough zinc from food. There can be several causes for this, which are explained in this article. If there is a zinc deficiency, this can lead to different deficiency symptoms, since zinc is involved in many processes in the organism. So it is essential for the correct functioning of enzymes and hormones as well as other metabolic processes. Since a deficiency can have a variety of effects, the deficiency symptoms and complaints are extensive. These include: apathy, lack of concentration, acne, hair loss, delayed wound healing and a higher susceptibility to infections.

Malnutrition

If malnutrition is mentioned, a distinction must be made between malnutrition and malnutrition. In the event of malnutrition, the body does not get enough nutrients and consequently not enough vital substances. Of course, this also applies to the trace element zinc. In contrast, if there is talk of malnutrition, a large amount of food is ingested, but this usually only covers the proportion of macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates). Micronutrients (vitamins, trace elements, and minerals) are not supplied in sufficient quantities. This can lead to a lack of zinc. As a side note: While malnutrition is more likely to be found in third countries, malnutrition is predominant in industrialized countries.

Bad zinc utilization

If zinc is ingested with food, it must enter the bloodstream via the intestine. This absorption process in the intestine can be disturbed and lead to insufficient absorption of zinc. This can have different causes. For example, there may be an intolerance to the gluten-based protein (this is called celiac disease). If a person suffering from celiac disease takes in gluten (for example in the form of a cereal product), this leads to inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. Over time, the villi regress, which enlarge the surface of the intestine so that nutrients can be optimally absorbed from the diet. According to this, the inflammation of the intestine and the regression of the villi have unfavorable effects on the absorption of nutrients.

Certain substances can also impair the absorption of zinc. This can be the case, for example, with an increased calcium intake – for example with osteoporosis. Phosphates (contained in soft drinks, for example) can also affect the intake.

An increased zinc requirement

In certain life situations, there may be an increased need for zinc. After all, zinc is involved in many important functions in the body. For example, if the body is in the growth phase or is pregnant, the need for zinc may be increased. Infectious diseases (or diseases in general) or a lot of sport can increase the need.

Increased zinc excretion or zinc loss

In diabetics, an increased amount of zinc is excreted in the urine, as is the case with certain medications – for example when ACE inhibitors, diuretics (diuretics), cortisone or laxatives are given. Gastrointestinal disorders can also increase zinc excretion. Increased zinc loss can also result from injury or high blood loss surgery. Even unnoticed internal bleeding can lead to a constant loss of zinc.

What are the most common causes of zinc deficiency?

One of the main causes is the intake of too little zinc. This can be the result of malnutrition, a one-sided diet (due to the predominant consumption of “junk food” or highly processed products or as part of a diet) or a fasting cure. Another cause is poor zinc utilization – for example as a result of chronic bowel disease (celiac disease). Certain substances can also hinder the absorption of zinc (calcium, phosphorus, etc.). In certain circumstances there may be an increased need for zinc – e.g. B. in illness, pregnancy or in the growth phase. An equally decisive cause of a zinc deficiency is an increased zinc excretion through medication or a loss of zinc (e.g. due to bleeding).

Main causes of zinc deficiency

  • malnutrition
  • poor utilization of zinc: for example in bowel diseases
  • an increased need: a growth phase, illness, etc.
  • an increased excretion: e.g. by the administration of medication (diuretics)
  • Zinc loss due to bleeding

Other causes that can cause zinc deficiency

  • stress
  • Malabsorption
  • diarrhea
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heavy metal pollution
  • diabetes
  • High caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Antacids and antibiotics

What are the symptoms of Zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency can be the cause of many and very different symptoms. Because zinc is involved in numerous physiological and biochemical processes in the body. For the sake of clarity, it makes sense to subdivide the symptoms of zinc deficiency into physical (physical) and mental (psychological).

Physical symptoms of zinc deficiency

HORMONAL DISORDERS WITH POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON:

  • libido
  • power
  • fertility

WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM

  • frequent runny nose, cough or sore throat
  • flu infections (not to be confused with flu)
  • Herpes, especially cold sores

SKIN DISEASES

  • dry skin
  • flaky skin
  • acne
  • Eczema
  • increased susceptibility to skin fungi
  • various inflammatory diseases with redness and pustules
  • Wound healing problems

DISORDERS OF THE SENSES

  • Visual disturbances
  • Olfactory disorders
  • Taste disorders

DISEASE OF THE NAILS

  • brittle nails
  • splintered nails
  • increased grooving of the nail
  • white spots on the nails

HAIR DISORDERS

  • Hair loss
  • premature graying
  • lackluster and brittle hair

Mental symptoms of zinc deficiency

  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue
  • generally declining performance
  • apathy

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How can you determine zinc deficiency?

Given the large number of possible signs of zinc deficiency, the question arises about how zinc deficiency can be diagnosed. There are basically two ways to do this.

  1. Blood test
  2. Observe symptoms and above all take them seriously

The blood test

The zinc content of the blood is determined during the blood test. After the blood is drawn, the laboratory analyzes how high the zinc content is. Indications of a zinc deficiency are, in addition to the zinc value itself, changes in the hormone cortisol contained in the blood and a lower number of blood cells. It is important to know that the blood test does not necessarily have to be exact. Because zinc is stored to a large extent. For example, some doctors believe that there is no correct conventional medical method for recording the zinc value. The fact is that much of the zinc is stored in the body.

  • 60% in the muscles
  • 30% in the bones
  • 10% in other body tissues such as the prostate, liver or brain
  • there is only 6-12 mg / l zinc in the blood

If there is a shortage of zinc, the stocks (in total this is approx. 2 to 4 g zinc) are used up. Therefore, according to the skeptics of the blood test, the blood test may not be correct. It is advisable to describe the symptoms in detail with the family doctor, to narrow down the causes for them and ideally to exclude them. Eating habits should be included in the analysis. It can make sense to keep a food diary over a period of several weeks. Because zinc has to be supplied to the body through nutrition. If this turns out to be low in zinc, this is the first indication of a possible zinc deficiency.

Observe symptoms

Detecting a zinc deficiency is not easy because it shows with very different problems, all of which could be influenced by other factors. In addition, there are the inaccuracies already mentioned in the blood test. Usually, there are several symptoms that are not particularly characteristic in themselves, but give an overall picture that indicates an undersupply of zinc. The most striking feature is the weakened immune system and the associated susceptibility to infections.

Special attention is required here. Frequent colds or even recurrent (lip) herpes are a serious alarm signal (diarrhea is also a signal). When the immune system is weakened, the trace element zinc, which is absorbed through the intestine, has an elementary role in maintaining the immune system. The gut is the number one immune organ in the body. For this reason, intestinal problems also cause problems with the body’s own defense in the vast majority of cases. Regardless of whether the zinc value is correct, it is therefore important to find the causes. Most of the time, a change in diet and / or lifestyle is necessary. You shouldn’t put it on the back burner. Because when the body’s defenses are exhausted, long and frequently recurring illnesses can become chronic.

Recognize zinc deficiency

The diseases of the nails and hair are not just a question of beauty. These indicators should not be overrated either but should be taken seriously. In this case, taking serious means ruling out other causes and consulting with your family doctor. A visit to the doctor should never be postponed if other symptoms of zinc deficiency appear at the same time.

What does Zinc deficiency mean for the body?

Zinc is essential for metabolism, contained in numerous enzymes and simply irreplaceable. This can also be seen in the long list of possible symptoms of deficiency symptoms. Therefore, its importance for the body cannot be overestimated. If zinc is missing, the physical functions are limited. The immediate result is a weakening of the entire organism, especially the immune system. In addition, general well-being suffers. This results in reduced physical and mental performance and ultimately various clinical pictures.

Zinc Deficiency Treatment

The amounts recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are 10 (men), 7 (women), 3 to 6 (children) and 2 (infants) milligrams of zinc per day. Ideally, we take this amount in with food. A possible catch:

  • The diet is one-sided, not well balanced and therefore poor in nutrients and minerals.
  • Zinc from food is absorbed to different degrees by the body.

oysters contain a lot of zinc

Optimal Zinc Supply with Food

We usually consume a sufficient amount of the most important nutrients and minerals through meals every day. This requires a balanced diet. High-quality food, freshly and gently prepared. The reality is often different. Instead of the great lunch table, there is a small snack in between or the quick meal in the form of fast food. This is at the expense of balance. So it happens that despite richly filled fruit and vegetable shelves and a wide range of fish and meat, symptoms of deficiency cannot be ruled out categorically. In addition, a one-sided diet has a negative impact on performance and well-being. Because it not only increases the risk of zinc deficiency but also iron, iodine, calcium and vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin D, and vitamin E) are often missing. The long-term consequences are different in individual cases, but the likelihood of various clinical ailments increases.

How can we absorb Zinc?

The daily supply of zinc ideally takes place via a balanced diet. Food containing zinc should therefore always be on the menu.

Above all, animal foods contain higher amounts of zinc. The body can also process this better than zinc from plant-based foods.

If the zinc levels are too low, zinc supplements can also be taken. Over-the-counter zinc supplements such as Immune Defence can be used without consulting a doctor if it’s just a slight zinc deficiency. If these are to be used over a longer period of time or in higher doses, the doctor should be informed.

Foods that have a very high amount of Zinc

  • Offal such as liver (veal, pork, beef),
  • Seafood (e.g. oysters),
  • Rye and wheat seedlings,
  • Wheat bran and
  • Sunflower seeds

Foods that have a high amount of Zinc

  • Shrimp,
  • Cheese (Emmental, Edam, Gouda)
  • Hazelnuts,
  • Corn,
  • Goose and
  • Turkey

Foods that have a small amount of Zinc

  • Chicken,
  • Vegetables,
  • Yogurt,
  • Potatoes,
  • fruit and
  • Milk.

Tips for natural Zinc supply

To avoid deficiency symptoms, you should regularly include a sufficient amount of zinc-containing foods in your menu. It doesn’t even need to be a super fancy lunch. With these smart tips, you can give your body a zinc boost with little money and little time during lunch break. The best: The whole thing is natural and also delicious.

Make fast food yourself

The requirements for lunch are usually “tasty”, “quick”, “easy to get” and “eat on the side”. You can buy a ready-made snack at the nearest branch of a fast-food chain, kiosk or snack bar or whatever is nearby. Or they make your own snack.

Zinc-rich shrimp sandwich

All you need is less than 10 minutes. You can get the ingredients easily in any supermarket.

  • Shrimp from the cooling shelf
  • Toasted bread, whole grain or white, depending on your taste
  • ricotta
  • Pesto (red)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper (white, best to buy in the mill – marginal price difference, taste much better)
  • Cress and/or radicchio

Mix the ricotta together with the mayonnaise, pesto and lemon juice in a bowl. Depending on your preference, the ricotta can also be replaced by another cheese, e.g. Gouda. The advantage: Gouda contains 3.9 mg, in contrast to ricotta with 1.16 mg, more than three times as much zinc. Then season with salt and pepper according to taste. Lightly toast the slices of toast, let them cool and then brush each with the mixture. Cover with cress and / or radicchio. The amount is arbitrary.

Tip for an extra-fresh sandwich:

If you want to enjoy a fresh sandwich during lunch break, pack the spread, the vegetables, and the toast slices into separate lunch boxes. Then you can build your sandwich in the workplace in just a few simple steps.

Zinc bomb Gouda salad

Not only delicious but also healthy when combined with vegetables and crispy rye baguette.

  • Gouda cheese
  • Paprika, ideally the red one because it is particularly rich in vitamin C
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • fresh chives

Remove the wax layer and dice the Gouda. Wash and dice the peppers. Feel free about the quantities. Add mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper. Chop the chives and add them to the salad. It is best left to soak in the fridge overnight.

Tip for singles:

If a whole rye baguette is simply too much for you, buy a rye roll from your favorite baker instead.

Light lunch salad

Brazil nuts are simply delicious and with 4.6 mg they are also rich in zinc. Combined with lamb’s lettuce, it becomes a light snack for lunch.

  • Lamb’s lettuce, one serving is about 150g
  • Brazil nuts, at least a handful, or more depending on the amount of salad
  • Parmesan
  • Walnut oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • pepper and salt

If you’re lucky enough to have a small kitchen at work, just take the ingredients with you to work. Wash the lamb’s lettuce, grate the parmesan roughly. Add walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and salt, sprinkle the Brazil nuts over it and you’re done.

Tip for the aroma:

Be sure to buy the parmesan in one piece and, if possible, wash the salad shortly before consumption and soak it with the dressing. If you can’t do this, take the salad and dressing to work separately.

“Zinc Robbers” as a disruptive factor

The so-called zinc robbers represent an additional risk. These are foods and lifestyle habits that actively burden the zinc account or prevent the absorption of zinc. These include:

  • Caffeine, not only in coffee but also in various lemonade
  • high amounts of calcium, for example, due to zinc substitutes
  • High doses of iron and copper
  • Cadmium, for example, contained in linseed, liver, mushrooms, mussels

cola is a so called zinc robber

The substances listed do not completely prevent the absorption of zinc. The human body simply absorbs significantly less zinc. Conversely, this means that more zinc has to be added. To do this, it is sufficient to take a peek at your own diet. If you belong to the high-risk groups, it is best to speak to your doctor and have a zinc test carried out.

In addition to the foods mentioned, lifestyle habits have a major impact on the zinc balance. Alcohol and nicotine are as devastating as stress and exercise. Sports? Yes, because those who exercise do sweat. Potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper are lost with the sweat. The amounts vary depending on the physical load and the associated sweating. However, there is no harm in doing sports and paying attention to nutrition. After all, what we eat also has a major impact on (athletic) performance.

Those who take hormone preparations or medicines for gastrointestinal diseases over a longer period of time should also think about the adequate supply of zinc. These inhibit zinc absorption in the body, so the deficiency can often only be remedied with high-dose zinc preparations. Corresponding zinc substitutes are not expensive and, when used as intended, they are free of undesirable side effects.

Avoid factors such as stress, alcohol, and nicotine, drinks containing phosphates such as cola or lemonade, hormone preparations or medicines for gastrointestinal diseases.

Zinc Therapy to help with Zinc Deficiency

Basically, a healthy diet with a sufficient amount of zinc-containing food cannot be replaced by additional medication unless you are vegan or vegetarian or simply do not like a majority of the foods that contain a lot of zinc.

However, if you suffer from particular stress, drink alcohol, nicotine, and medication or are already diagnosed with a medical condition, you should definitely close gaps in your supply with a good zinc substitute, for example, Immune Defence. For the sake of your own health, you should change your lifestyle in the long term, because vital substances in their natural context are simply irreplaceable in the long run.

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Zinc for strengthening your immune system against the flu and Coronavirus

Due to the impending corona epidemic, fears and panic are spreading increasingly. This is particularly noticeable through the increasing number of people hoarding toilet paper and the presence of empty shelves in supermarkets. There are new reports every day about the number of confirmed worldwide infections, and the trend is rising.

Like other pathogens causing respiratory infections, the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) can cause symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever, and some people also suffer from diarrhea. On the other hand, colds, sore throats, and sneezing fits are rare with an infection with the new coronavirus. The main symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. Pneumonia is particularly feared. However, many infections can also go without symptoms.

In the end, it is only possible to find out whether it is common flu or an infection with the coronavirus with a special test.

7 prevention tips you should follow right now

  • REGULAR AND THOROUGH HAND WASHING
  • AVOID SHAKING HANDS
  • KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM YOUR FACE
  • WASH DISHES AND LAUNDRY WITH HOT WATER
  • STAY AT HOME IF POSSIBLE
  • ENSURE HUMIDITY IN ROOMS
  • DRINK ENOUGH
  • OUR INSIDER TIP FOR YOU: STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH ZINC

It can be assumed that people with a weakened immune system (immunosuppression) fall ill more quickly and probably more seriously than those with a good immune system.

Numerous general protective measures are already curing on the Internet and are intended to protect the population from infection of the Covid-19. Surprisingly, the importance of optimal functioning of the immune system has not yet been discussed.

People with a weakened immune system (immunosuppression) get sick faster and more likely than those with a good immune system. That is why strong defenses are more important than ever to protect yourself against the malicious coronavirus.

This is where zinc comes in to actively strengthen the body’s immune system so that it does not fall victim to the pathogen.

According to this recent study (1), the use of zinc can have beneficial effects on the coronavirus.

Increased risk for the elderly

Covid-19 can be particularly dangerous for older people. In young, otherwise healthy patients, the death rate is only 0.2 percent. From the age of 50, it gradually increases from 1.3 percent (50 to 59 years) to 14.8 percent in those over 80 years of age. Children, especially younger ones, rarely fall ill and if they do, the infection is rather easy for them. Not a single child under the age of nine has died from the virus so far. Incidentally, men are more at risk than women. Their death rate is 2.8 percent, and that of women 1.7 percent. Previous illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD), hypertension and cancer can also have a significant impact on the course of the disease.

At the moment one should avoid gathering people as much as possible; refrain from shaking hands; wash your hands regularly with soap for 30 seconds and ensure sufficient humidity in the rooms. Drinking a lot keeps the mucous membranes moist from the inside. The cough and sneeze etiquette should also be observed.

Comparison of Covid-19 and the normal Flu

Flu and coronavirus are very similar. In most cases, a clear diagnosis can only be found using a special test. However, both diseases have one thing in common: there are no drugs against the virus yet.

Coronavirus Symptoms

The coronavirus is currently making many people panicky. However, coronaviruses do not trigger serious illnesses in everyone. In some cases, the infection is harmless and only manifests itself in the form of a slight cold. Nevertheless, the infection can be fatal and should, therefore, be taken seriously and treated accordingly.

Flu Symptoms

The effects of flu are the same and, like the coronavirus, can be harmless but also fatal. Typical complaints of both diseases are manifested in the form of cough, runny nose, sore throat, and fever. In some cases, diarrhea can also occur.

Transmission of the pathogen

The two pathogens also do not differ with regard to the infection routes: It is transmitted primarily via droplet infections, including sneezing or shaking hands.

What to do if you suspect a Corona infection?

The main reason for suspecting a coronavirus disease is possible contact with those affected or staying in the current risk areas, such as China or Italy. If one of these factors applies and the symptoms resemble those of the flu, it is suspected that it is a coronavirus disease. In this case, the attending doctor or the responsible health authority should be alerted immediately by phone.

Which illness is more dangerous?

Which disease is more dangerous for humans causes many discussions. In the US, the number of COVID-19 cases is steadily increasing and is now the country with the most infections. The overall health risk to the population from the coronavirus is rated as high. Both pathogens are highly contagious and can spread in mass within a very short time. Older people, people with a weakened immune system or people with an existing medical condition are, particularly at risk. This risk group should take particular care to adhere to the recommended safety measures. Prevention and strengthening of the immune system should be more important than ever for the general population, to do something good for their body and to be as careful as possible against the pathogens. As recent news reports show, the virus can also be fatal to people who do not belong to the risk group.

Act immediately – Support your immune system with Immune Defence!

Zinc Supplements

Everyone has been talking about zinc as a substitute for years. Advisers, pharmacies and even drug stores deal with the mineral. But for whom is it useful to take zinc? How does the trace element work in our bodies? Are there any differences in the products? Here you will find the most important facts.

When you should take Zinc as a supplement

Zinc is a vital trace element for us humans. Since our body cannot produce zinc itself, we have to consume the mineral through food. The average zinc requirement per day is around 12 – 15 mg. Zinc is found in many of our foods, for example in nuts, cheese or meat. An additional supply of zinc is always necessary if the body is not adequately supplied with a normal diet. It typically affects people who have an increased need for zinc. These include, for example, athletes or pregnant women. The consequences of zinc deficiency are a number of uncomfortable symptoms.

A zinc preparation supplements the food intake with the missing amount of zinc.

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What should be considered when taking Zinc?

If you suspect a zinc deficiency in yourself, do not hesitate to act. Possibly some of your complaints can be managed by the improved supply of zinc.

Why some Zinc supplements are better than others

In supermarkets or drugstores, you can find products for nutritional supplements quite often. Among them are many zinc preparations. The low price seems tempting at first glance. Often, however, these products are often of minor quality. Effective treatment of the symptoms is not possible with such dietary supplements. Most of the cheap offers are wrong or overdosed. For a sensible dietary supplement, it is important to provide the body with the right amount of zinc. An overdose can lead to headaches, nausea or fever.

Better Bioavailability through Zinc Gluconate

If you deal with nutritional supplements, you quickly come across the term bioavailability. This means how quickly and to what extent a substance is absorbed by the organism. In order to process zinc in the body at all, aspartate is important. Without its supportive effect, zinc cannot be absorbed by the body. Only some zinc supplements such as Immune Defence offer an effective combination for optimal absorption.

Why children need Zinc

This is because the trace element is necessary, among other things, for the growth and healthy development and maturation of the central nervous and hormonal systems.

To ensure the healthy development of children, the blood concentrations of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and above all zinc should be in the normal range. The zinc values ​​are not only correlated with the concentrations of the other minerals, but also with the body size, which means that a zinc deficiency leads to less length growth. (Yin, Y .; Li, Y .; Li, Q .; et. Al .: Evaluation of the relationship between height and zinc, copper, iron, calcium, and magnesium levels in healthy young children in Beijing, China. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2016 Sep 5, DOI: 10.1007 / s12011-016-0830-0)

children need zinc

Growth disturbance can be a sign of zinc deficiency

However, the zinc concentration in the blood plasma is only of limited use for assessing the zinc status in children. The growth is more suitable here, which means that the body size should be appropriate for the age. Pharmacological zinc doses are said to be unlikely to have a positive effect on growth, whereas a growth response to zinc supplements is an indication of a pre-existing zinc deficiency. (King, JC .; Brown, KH .; Gibson, RS .: Biomarkers of nutrition for development (BOND) -Zinc review. J Nutr. 2016 Mar 9th pii: jn220079)

The role of zinc in early life

The results of an overview, in which 81 studies were analyzed, indicate the importance of normal zinc concentrations in order to avoid possible consequences that a deficiency could have on life before and after birth. Inadequate zinc levels during the formation and development of the embryo can affect the final appearance of all organs. A maternal restriction of zinc intake during pregnancy affects the growth of the fetus, while adequate zinc intake during pregnancy could reduce the risk of preterm birth. Premature babies are at particular risk of developing zinc deficiency due to a combination of different factors. Typical clinical signs of a zinc deficit are impaired growth and skin inflammation. (Terrin G et al., Zinc in Early Life: A Key Element in the Fetus and Preterm Neonate. Nutrients. 2015 Dec 11; 7 (12): 10427-46)

Zinc deficiency promotes febrile seizures in children

Febrile seizures mainly occur between the 6th month of life and the 5th year of life. 3 to 4 percent of children in this age group are affected. 18 out of 20 studies of a systematic review show that the serum zinc values ​​in patients suffering from febrile seizures were significantly lower than in the control group. The study suggests that zinc deficiency can promote febrile seizures. (Nasehi MM et al., Comparison of Serum Zinc Levels among Children with Simple Febrile Seizure and Control Group: A systematic Review. Iran J Child Neurol. 2015 Winter; 9 (1): 17-24)

Diabetes mellitus type 1

A Finnish study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E and zinc may protect children from type 1 diabetes in relation to vital substances. (Virtanen, SM: Dietary factors in the development of type 1 diabetes. Pediatr Diabetes. 2016 Jul; 17 Suppl 22: 49-55)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children and the Role of Zinc

One of the most common childhood behavioral disorders worldwide is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is associated with considerable psychosocial problems for the children and adolescents and their relatives.

According to their parents,9.4 percent of children and adolescents in the US between the ages of 3 and 17 have at some point received the medical or psychological diagnosis of ADHD. Boys with 12.9 percent were affected more often than girls with 5.6 percent. (CDC.gov)

The nerve energy metabolism relies on a sufficient amount of zinc. Zinc deficiency is associated with an increased tendency towards aggressiveness and irritability.

Controlled studies indicate that children with ADHD often have reduced zinc levels in serum, red blood cells, hair and nails compared to healthy children.

Some studies also suggest a direct relationship between the level of zinc deficiency and the severity of the symptoms of ADHD.

Studies have shown that zinc intake has a positive effect on the symptoms of ADHD (e.g. hyperactivity, impulsivity, cognitive performance) and on the effectiveness of psychostimulants so that their need can be reduced if necessary.

The check of the micronutrient status, as well as a possible compensation of micronutrient deficiencies, should form the basis of every treatment in hyperkinetic behavior disorders. (Groeber, Uwe, Medicines and Micronutrients, Medication-oriented supplementation, 3rd edition, 2014, Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft Stuttgart)

Lower zinc levels in children with ADHD

In one study, scientists found lower zinc levels and a higher copper/zinc ratio in children with ADHD compared to the control group. The copper concentrations in the children with ADHD were higher than in the control group, which was associated with ADHD symptoms such as inattentiveness. (Viktorinova A et al., Changed Plasma Levels of Zinc and Copper to Zinc Ratio and Their Possible Associations with Parent- and Teacher-Rated Symptoms in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2015 Jun 12)

Studies on the dietary intake of nickel and zinc in children

The zinc supply in children has not been considered optimal in recent decades. An inadequate supply of zinc is also of great interest in environmental medicine because of its protective effect in the case of pollution. With a high intake of nickel, especially through the diet, contact allergies can occur.

In 42 small children aged 4 to 6 years from 3 groups of people with different origins and eating habits, the zinc and nickel intake was analyzed via the diet. A zinc intake of 4.6 mg per day and a nickel intake of 86 µg daily were determined for the whole group. The intake of 5 mg zinc per day recommended by the DGE was not reached, while the nickel intake was significantly above the estimated value of the DGE for an adequate intake of 25-30 µg per day.

Overall, the children in this study showed both a high nickel intake and excretion, as well as an insufficient zinc supply through the diet. The clinical relevance of these results is currently unclear and certainly requires further investigation.

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