A new study published in medical journal BMC Nutrition by researchers from Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida has found that half of Colombian children under 5 years old suffer from deficiencies in zinc, a metal and essential nutrient critical to health and life.
The study, led by Angela Maria Pinzón Rondón of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá used data from the 2010 Colombia National Nutrition Survey, and explored zinc deficiency in 4,275 children between 1 and 5 years old.
The prevalence of zinc nutritional deficiency seems to have gotten worse, going from 20% to 43.3% in 2010, according to the study. As expected, the deficiency correlates strongly with household poverty, but curiously, enrolment in nutritional programs did not modify the relationship of wealth and food security to zinc deficiency.
“Zinc deficiency is associated with wealth, food security and enrolment in nutritional support programs. Nutritional programs may be a good alternative against zinc deficiency, if they focus appropriately on the needs of children according to their wealth and food security,” concluded the study.
Compared to adults, children seem to have a higher demand for zinc. Zinc deficiency can lead to stunted growth, developmental delays, impaired immunity, and infections. Zinc supplements have been shown to decrease childhood mortality and morbidity, according to the study.
Zinc (example pictured above) is a metallic element that is critical to human life, and is a component of over 2,000 human proteins, and 400 enzyme reactions.
Zinc dietary sources according to the US National Institutes of Health
|Food||Milligrams (mg) |
|Oysters, cooked, breaded and fried, 3 ounces||74.0||493|
|Beef chuck roast, braised, 3 ounces||7.0||47|
|Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 3 ounces||6.5||43|
|Beef patty, broiled, 3 ounces||5.3||35|
|Breakfast cereal, fortified with 25% of the DV for zinc, ¾ cup serving||3.8||25|
|Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces||3.4||23|
|Pork chop, loin, cooked, 3 ounces||2.9||19|
|Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, ½ cup||2.9||19|
|Chicken, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces||2.4||16|
|Pumpkin seeds, dried, 1 ounce||2.2||15|
|Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces||1.7||11|
|Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce||1.6||11|
|Chickpeas, cooked, ½ cup||1.3||9|
|Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce||1.2||8|
|Oatmeal, instant, plain, prepared with water, 1 packet||1.1||7|
|Milk, low-fat or non fat, 1 cup||1.0||7|
|Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce||0.9||6|
|Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup||0.9||6|
|Chicken breast, roasted, skin removed, ½ breast||0.9||6|
|Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella, 1 ounce||0.9||6|
|Peas, green, frozen, cooked, ½ cup||0.5||3|
|Flounder or sole, cooked, 3 ounces||0.3||2|
Study: Association of nutritional support programs with zinc deficiency in Colombian children: a cross-sectional study- BMC Nutrition volume 5, Article number: 42 (2019)
- Ángela María Pinzón-Rondón,
- Alfonso Hoyos-Martínez,
- Daniela Parra-Correa,
- Ana María Pedraza-Flechas
- Ángela María Ruiz-Sternberg