Why babies need it
Besides having a positive effect on cognition and development, zinc's primary roles are to maintain immune function and assure optimal cell growth and repair. Zinc deficiency is associated with impaired growth, increased susceptibility to infection and an increased risk of diarrhea.
Formula meets needs through age 1, but breast milk doesn't, so it's important to introduce zinc-rich foods in the second half of the first year. Children from 7 months to 3 years of age need 3 milligrams a day.
Serve it up
Three ounces of pork tenderloin has 2 milligrams, a cup of yogurt has 1.6 milligrams, and half a chicken breast has 1 milligram. Other good sources include turkey, beef, fish, eggs, lentils, whole milk, cheddar cheese and fortified cereal.
Good to know
Zinc is most commonly found in iron -- rich meat, poultry and fish, so if you're meeting your baby's iron needs, chances are she's getting enough zinc too.