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Zinc has been found to help children under five recover more quickly from severe diarrhea, according to a study in the December issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Particularly in developing countries where severe diarrhea is responsible for millions of deaths every year, zinc may offer a better alternative to traditional antibiotic treatment of diarrhea.

Children in the study tended to benefit more if there was an existing deficiency. So this treatment may not be effective for children in developed countries where zinc deficiencies are fairly rare. However, many children may not be receiving the recommended daily allowances for zinc. Children up to one year of age should take one milligram of zinc per day. Zinc intake should increase up to ten milligrams per day for adolescents. Zinc is found in red meat, poultry, and some seafood, and in these forms is more easily absorbed by the body. While fortified cereals, wild rice, wheat germ, and some nuts contain zinc, it is harder to absorb in these forms. Thus, children on vegetarian diets may be at a higher risk for zinc deficiency.

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