7 signs you aren’t getting enough zinc

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for humans and is present in all your body tissues. Humans cannot manufacture it so we need to obtain if from an exterior source. Marginal deficiency is quite common in the developing world and contributes to impaired physical and neuropsychological development and increased susceptibility to infections, particularly in young children.

Why you need zinc

It has many functions, more than 200! It will:

  • Help carbohydrate metabolism
  • Support DNA synthesis and gene expression
  • Digest and synthesise protein
  • Synthesise brain receptors and neurotransmitters
  • Support immunity
  • Support sexual maturity
  • Help wound healing
  • Support insulin synthesis
  • Maintains mucosal health
  • Help with hormone production

Why deficiency is a problem

Severe deficiency can cause impaired growth and development, pregnancy complications, immune dysfunction and increased susceptibility to infections (particularly in children). It is unlikely you are severely zinc deficient but mild deficiency is, according to the World Health Organisation, is approximately 31% of the planet; one in every three people!

Who is at risk of zinc deficiency

  • Premature or low-birth-weight infants
  • Children and adolescents due to rapid growth and development
  • Pregnant and lactating women: low zinc status in mothers is associated with low birth weight babies, premature delivery and labour complications
  • Individuals with malabsorption syndromes: IBS, IBD, Colitis, Diverticulitis, Coeliac Disease
  • Malnourished individuals: “Picky Eaters”, Anorexics, Bulimics
  • Individuals with severe or persistent/chronic diarrhoea
  • People with mental health difficulties, particularly depression and bipolar
  • Those who had gastric bypass surgery
  • Alcoholics
  • Vegetarians/Vegans
  • People older than 60 years of age.
  • Those with high processed/refined food intake: high sodium, trans- fat or sugar

Signs of Deficiency

Deficiency is diagnosed by presentations such as dermatitis, alopecia (hair loss), poor appetite, frequent diarrhea and/or upper respiratory infection and, stunted growth in children. Low serum zinc concentration is an indicator of zinc deficiency but is not definitive. Signs of deficiency include:

  1. Diarrhoea: whether acute or chronic, diarrhoea increase loss of zinc from your body.
  2. Slow wound healing
  3. Poor Neurological- attention deficit, motor skills, poor memory and concentration
  4. Skin conditions- Allergies, acne, rashes, dermatitis/eczema
  5. Loss/altered of taste or smell
  6. Continual illness such as colds, flu, low immunity
  7. White spots on your nails

High Zinc Foods

Finding zinc in your diet is quite easy. There are many delicious foods that are high in this nutrient that can be incorporated regularly in your daily diet:

  • Oysters
  • Red Meat
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Kidney Beans
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Pork
  • Chicken

Zinc Supplements

As it is so easily available in so many foods, supplementation is not necessary if you are getting a balanced and varied diet. If you are a person at risk of deficiency (see the my list) then talk to your naturopath or nutritionist about the right dose for you. It is possible to have too much zinc, so informed guidance is a good thing! Too much can bring nausea, headaches and vomiting. Too much can also interfere with absorption of other nutrients such as copper and affect pharmaceutical medications.


Desley Hatfield is a naturopath whose special interests include stress, fatigue and mental health issues but she is interested in working with anyone who is committed to improving their health and wellbeing. Food as medicine is a major part of Desley’s practise. She provides mentoring and meal plans to help you get the right diet, specific to your needs.

 


References:

  1. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/zinc
  2. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-zinc-foods.php
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352181/
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/#h5
Desley Hatfield
Desley Hatfield

Desley Hatfield is a Naturopath whose special interests include stress, fatigue and mental health issues but she is interested in working with anyone who is committed to improving their health and wellbeing. Food as medicine is a major part of Desley’s practice.