Is zinc supplementation safe for children?

Dr. K here. Zinc is one of my most-used supplements in my practice, both for pediatrics and adult patients. I use zinc most often for diarrhea, picky eating, eczema, general immune support, and anxiety in children. (Of course, this is all very patient-specific, and depending on the overall need/s of the child.) Though true zinc deficiency is rare in developed countries, functional zinc deficiency is quite common, especially in patients with impaired absorption or in times of increased need (e.g., growing children). Zinc lozenges are tasty and compliance tends to be good. Personally, I like Seeking Health or Douglas Labs zinc lozenges. Do be aware that over-supplementation with zinc can cause a copper deficiency. Patients who are dosed with zinc above the daily Tolerable Upper Intake should also take low-dose copper, OR should have their serum copper levels monitored for signs of deficiency. To be on the safe side I often have children take supplement breaks periodically (e.g., over the summer). What is zinc and what is it used for in the body? Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body following iron. It acts as a cofactor for more than 100 different enzymes, making it an important player in a variety of reactions throughout multiple body systems.1 Zinc plays a critical role in everything from protein folding, regulating gene expression, RNA and DNA synthesis, cell proliferation and differentiation, stabilizing cell structures and membranes, to apoptosis.2 The most well known role of zinc is in enhancing immunity. It does so by regulating intracellular signaling pathways in both innate and adaptive immune cells. Due to its role in immunity, deficiencies are associated with infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, measles, and pneumonia. Zinc is important throughout every phase of life, and is particularly important in supporting immune health, growth, cognitive development, and gut health in children.2 How much zinc should children have? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for children is as follows: 0–6 months: 2 mg 7–12 months: 3 mg 1–3 years: 3 mg 4–8 years: 5 mg 9–13 years: 8 mg 14–18 years: 11 mg (male); 9 mg … Continue reading Is zinc supplementation safe for children?