Toddler, Child
29th Sep 2020

Do you know the benefits of zinc for kids? Consuming a varied diet of nutrients is am an important part of maintaining your little one’s immune health, including ensuring they’re consuming enough zinc.

Read on to learn more about how zinc supports your child and which foods to include in their diet to help ensure they are meeting their Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).

What Is Zinc?

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a range of important roles within your little one’s body. This includes supporting their healthy growth and development, immune function and vision health (1). It’s an essential trace element for all forms of life, meaning there are small traces detected in the body but the precise amount is unknown (2).

Zinc is also an antioxidant, which means it can help reduce free radical formation in the body. Free radicals are by-products of chemical processes in the body, such as your metabolism, and can cause damage to parts of cells like proteins and DNA (3).

Importantly, our bodies can’t produce zinc, which is why it’s important for kids to consume adequate amounts of it through the foods they eat.

How Does Zinc Support The Immune System?

When your child’s immune system fights off unwanted bugs and germs, this is called an immune response. Mounting an immune response is a complex process and there are several important vitamins and minerals at play.

In particular, zinc plays a role in immune cell development and function. These immune cells regulate innate (the first line of defence against germs) and adaptive (second line of defence) immune responses (1). To learn more about the difference between innate and adaptive immunity, click here.

Zinc is also important for the communication between immune cells, helping them to work together more efficiently.

When your child has adequate zinc levels, their immune responses are regulated and function optimally. Conversely, low levels of zinc may weaken these responses and reduce their body’s ability to ward off unwanted bugs and germs (4). Adequate zinc intake is important for maintaining the integrity of the immune system, particularly for the healthy development and functioning of cells.

How Can You Support Your Child’s Zinc Intake?

The best way to support your little one’s consumption of essential vitamins and minerals is through a healthy, balanced diet. But, you may be wondering which foods have higher zinc levels than others.

Meat and fish are sources of zinc but did you know that some cereals and dairy foods also contain this essential mineral?

The zinc in some foods is more readily absorbed by your child’s body than other sources. This is known as nutrient bioavailability (1). Zinc in meat, eggs and seafood tends to be more bioavailable than what is found in grains and legumes (1). You can learn more about nutrient bioavailability here.

Food sources of zinc for kids include:

  • Crab
  • Lamb
  • Prawns
  • Beans
  • Red meat
  • Fortified cereals

When looking for a defence against bugs and germs, zinc is an important mineral for kids to help support their healthy immune system function. Not only does zinc support your immune system but we also know it can help with vision health and support growth during peak periods, like childhood and pregnancy. How do you get your daily dose of zinc?

If you have any concerns about your child’s zinc intake, contact your local healthcare professional.

What's Next?


  1. Zinc (2014). Zinc. [online] Linus Pauling Institute. Available at:
  2. What are Trace Elements? What are Trace Elements? -Their deficiency and excess states- Osamu WADA. (2004). Journal of the Japan Medical Association, [online] 47(8), pp.607–612. Available at:
  3. Liou, S. (2015). About Free Radical Damage – HOPES Huntington’s Disease Information. [online] HOPES Huntington’s Disease Information. Available at:
  4. Shankar, A.H. and Prasad, A.S. (1998). Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68(2), pp.447S-463S.

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