J Int Med Res. 2010 Mar-Apr;38(2):386-414. PMID: 20515554
Essential role of vitamin C and zinc in child immunity and health.
With the progressive elimination of dietary protein-energy deficits, deficiencies of micronutrients are emerging as the limiting factors in ensuring children's optimal health. Data from several countries in Asia and Latin America indicate that deficiencies of vitamin C and zinc continue to be at alarming levels. This article reviews the roles of vitamin C and zinc in supporting children's growth and development, with a particular focus on the complementary roles they play in supporting immune functions and combating infections. The contemporary relevance of vitamin C and zinc deficiency in the Asian and Latin American regions, both undergoing a rapid nutritional transition, are also discussed. Overall, there is increasing evidence that deficiency of vitamin C and zinc adversely affects the physical and mental growth of children and can impair their immune defences. Nutrition should be the main vehicle for providing these essential nutrients; however, supplementation can represent a valid support method, especially in developing regions.