Essential Role of Vitamin C and Zinc in Child Immunity and Health
Diet and nutrition are important in the promotion and maintenance of good health throughout a person’s entire life. Especially in early life, an inadequate diet with insufficient micronutrient density results in impairment of physical growth, mental development and immune function, and in increased risk of chronic diseases later in life.

Vitamin C and zinc are essential micronutrients with profound effects on children’s physical and mental development, health maintenance and well-being. Both are required for optimum immune response and are, therefore, important for disease prevention and combating infections. Vitamin C is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitters; it is a water-soluble antioxidant and enhances gastrointestinal absorption of dietary non-haem iron. Marginal vitamin C deficiency results in fatigue, lack of well-being and poor concentration, whereas severe deficiency causes weakening of collagenous structures, resulting in tooth loss, joint pains, bone and connective tissue disorders (e.g. impaired bone growth and disturbed ossification), poor wound healing and a compromised immunity. Zinc is required in numerous transcription factors and enzymes, it plays a central role in cellular differentiation and proliferation, and its deficiency causes growth retardation, skin changes, impaired immune response, increased susceptibility to infections, delayed wound healing abnormal dark adaptation, delayed sexual maturation and impaired fertility.

The health and well-being of children depend upon the interaction between their genetic potential and external factors, such as adequate nutrition, environmental safety, and social interaction and stimulation. With the progressive elimination of protein– energy deficits in the diet, deficiencies of micronutrients are emerging as the restriction to ensuring optimal health in growing children. Data from several countries in Asia and Latin America indicate that deficiencies of vitamin C and, particularly, zinc continue to be present at disturbing levels. Data on zinc deficiency are backed up by matching data reporting stuntedgrowth.

Overall, there is increasing evidence that deficiencies in micronutrients, such a vitamin C and zinc, adversely affect the physical and mental growth of children and can impair their immune defences. Nutrition should be the main vehicle for providing adequate amounts of these essential nutrients; however, supplementation can represent a valid support especially in developing regions.


Zinc Treatment to Under-five Children: Applications to Improve Child Survival and Reduce Burden of Disease
Zinc is an essential micronutrient associated with over 300 biological functions. Marginal zinc deficiency states are common among children living in poverty and exposed to diets either low in zinc or high in phytates that compromise zinc uptake. These children are at increased risk of morbidity due to infectious diseases, including diarrhoea and respiratory infection. Children aged less than five years (under-five children) and those exposed to zinc-deficient diets will benefit from either daily supplementation of zinc or a 10 to 14-day course of zinc treatment for an episode of acute diarrhoea. This includes less severe illness and a reduced likelihood of repeat episodes of diarrhoea. Given these findings, the World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund now recommend that all children with an acute diarrhoeal illness be treated with zinc, regardless of aetiology. ICDDR.B scientists have led the way in identifying the benefits of zinc. Now, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh and the private sector, the first national scaling up of zinc treatment has been carried out. Important challenges remain in terms of reaching the poorest families and those living in remote areas of Bangladesh.

Zinc is one of the most important new health interventions which is only now beginning to be scaled up in Bangladesh and will, hopefully, be soon introduced in other countries. It has the potential to be one of the most cost-effective health interventions for child survival as were ORS and measles vaccine. When studies first started, it was thought that it might be a way of improving treatment of diarrhoea somewhat, but it has turned out to be a real life-saver.


Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6068 decreases upper respiratory and T gastrointestinal tract symptoms in healthy Mexican scholar-aged children by modulating immune-related proteins
The consumption of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 (GanedenBC30) decreased the incidence rate of nasal congestion, bloody nasal mucus, itchy nose, hoarseness, and flatulencies, as well as the duration of hoarseness, headache, red eyes and fatigue in healthy school-aged children over a three-month period. These beneficial effects on upper- respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infection symptoms were asso- ciated with modulation of the immune system, since GanedenBC30 al- tered the serum levels of TNFα, CD163, G-CSF, ICAM-1, IL-6, IL-8, MCP- 2, RAGE, uPAR, and PF4. Therefore, these results suggest that GanedenBC30 may be used as a functional ingredient with positive immunomodulatory properties in children. This study contributes in the biomedical and clinical research with scientific information that sup- ports the beneficial effects of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of immune-related acute infections.