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Zinc: An Introduction

Zinc is a micronutrient incorporated in integrated management of neonatal and childhood illness program of Nepal for management of diarrheal diseases. Micronutrients are those substances which are required in small amount for proper growth, development and functioning of our body. Zinc supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. It helps in keeping up metabolism, cellular growth and immune function.

Reasons of Zinc Deficiency

  1. Inadequate Dietary Intake

    When we don’t include diverse types of food in appropriate amount in our daily meal, there is high possibility of micronutrient deficiency including zinc.

  2. Increased faecal loss of zinc due to repeated gastrointestinal infections

    Children in developing regions suffer from diarrheal diseases or gastrointestinal infections frequently causing loss of vital elements required to our body.

WHO recommendation

WHO have recommended zinc tablet to decrease the severity of diarrheal episode. Children above the age of two months are prescribed following doses of zinc when suffered with diarrhea.

- 20 mg zinc tablet per day for 10-14 days for children with acute diarrhea and

- 10 mg per day for infants under six months’ old

How does zinc help in diarrheal episode?

Although basic mechanism by which zinc helps curtailing the severity of diseases is still under investigation, yet it has proven to inhibit toxin-induced cholera, and decrease the severity and frequency of diarrhea by

- improving absorption of water and electrolytes

- improving regeneration of the intestinal epithelium

- increasing the levels of brush border enzymes

- boosting the immune response By Pramila Rai

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