Essential role of vitamin C and zinc in child immunity and health

J Int Med Res. Mar-Apr 2010;38(2):386-414. doi: 10.1177/147323001003800203.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Asia
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Trace Elements
  • Zinc
  • Ascorbic Acid