e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Zinc supplementation in the management of diarrhoea

Diarrhoeal disease kills 1.5 million children every year. In children under five years old, diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death globally – second only to pneumonia.

Zinc is essential for the normal growth and development of children and is naturally found in the diet, mainly in foods of animal origin. Dietary deficiency of zinc can lead to an increased risk of gastrointestinal infections and impaired gastrointestinal and immune function. The mechanisms by which zinc exerts its anti-diarrhoeal effect are not fully understood. WHO and UNICEF recommend the routine use of zinc supplementation to help reduce the duration and severity of diarrhoea, and to prevent subsequent episodes.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents


Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:24 CET

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Biological, behavioural and contextual rationale