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What's Missing From Your Child's Diet?

Zinc

If there were an annual MVP award for nutrients, zinc would be the winner. It's now recognized as one of the most active minerals in the body, by virtue of its presence in a multitude of enzymes. Without zinc our bodies could not digest protein, turn food into energy, or fight infections. Zinc deficiency in children leads to poor growth, anemia, and an impaired ability to heal. The best sources of this nutrient are meat, fish, and poultry products. However, if your child is a vegetarian, plant sources of zinc include whole-grain cereals, beans, seeds, and nuts. The RDA for zinc for children 3 to 10 years of age is 10 mg; for 11- to 18-year-olds the RDA jumps to 15 mg because teenagers especially need zinc for healthy sexual development.

Best zinc sources:

  • 4 ounces flank steak: 5 mg

  • 4 ounces dark-meat chicken: 3 mg

  • 1 cup fortified oat flakes cereal: 1.5 mg

  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread: 1.2 mg

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds: 1 mg

  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils: 1 mg

  • 3 ounces white-meat turkey: 1 mg

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