7.7.2  Addressing zinc deficiency

Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life should be supported because breastmilk is an excellent source of zinc. For young children, complementary feeding practices should be implemented with zinc-rich foods, such as animal source foods, and zinc-fortified complementary foods. The table below shows food sources with different levels of zinc content.

Table 7.10  Food sources of zinc.
Zinc contentTypes of food
Foods that provide the highest concentrations of zincLean red meat, whole-grain cereals, pulses and legumes
Food sources with moderate zinc contentProcessed cereals with low extraction rates, polished rice, and chicken, pork or meat with high fat content
Foods with small amount of zincFish, roots and tubers, green leafy vegetables and fruits are only modest sources of zinc
Foods with very low zinc contentSaturated fats and oils, sugar, and alcohol

Opportunities to improve zinc status should be considered in the context of ongoing general health and nutrition programme such as growth monitoring programmes, diarrhoea treatment facilities, integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI) interventions and national fortification programmes.

7.7.1  Zinc deficiency and the Millennium Development Goals

Summary of Study Session 7