You asked

Why does my child need zinc, and what dietary sources provide it?

Zinc is used by the body’s enzymes to perform metabolic and digestive functions. If your child is deficient in this mineral, then it can lead to stunted growth, however, it’s unlikely that your child is deficient, as few people in developed countries don’t get enough of this mineral.

One to three year olds, and four to eight year olds need three and five mg of zinc respectively, per day. The mineral is available in a wide range of animal and non animal based foods, including:

Pork and baked beans, cooked beef, and roast chicken are all great animal based sources of zinc. Fortified breakfast cereal, yoghurt, baked beans, ricotta cheese, Swiss cheese and tofu are all good sources that come from vegetables.

While it’s unlikely that your child will ever have too much zinc if he or she is getting it from food sources alone, there is a chance that he or she may experience side effects if you give your child too much in supplement form. This can lead to cramps, nausea and other abdominal problems, as well as dizziness and headaches. Long term over exposure to zinc can be toxic too.

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