Zinc is an important chemical essential for human functioning. It plays a vital role in many aspects of the immune system. It helps in cell division, clotting, healing wounds, DNA synthesis, growth and development of the fetus, and protein synthesis.
Signs of Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficiency is insufficient availability of zinc in the diet or can be caused due to the malabsorption of zinc by the body. This condition is prevalent in young children, pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, and the elderly. Here are 8 signs of zinc deficiency.
1. Poor Neurological Function
Absolutely essential for growth and neuropsychological performance, low zinc levels have been connected with attention and motor disorders in infants that persist well into adulthood. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that a zinc supplement providing just 50% of the recommended daily allowance improved attention. But don’t run out and pump your kids full of zinc just yet!
The research found that zinc is best absorbed with a proper balance of other nutrients, as found in whole foods, which is why it is so important to contact your natural health care physician for some much needed guidance should you suspect a zinc deficiency.
2. Emotional Instability
Zinc deficiency can affect your brain, which can lead to many emotional disturbances in your daily life. Anger, sudden fright, depression, and low confidence, including emotional instability are some symptoms that can occur. The most common symptom is frequent mood changes.
If zinc deficiency is not paid proper attention to, it may result in a condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
3. Loss of Appetite
If your body does not contain sufficient amounts of zinc, it can lead to a loss of appetite which can then result in more serious problems. If you are eating less, you are obviously losing out on essential vitamins and minerals from food. Your body would then become weak and your immunity is then at risk.
4. Dry Skin
Your skin holds 6% of the total amount of zinc in the body. If your body is lacking zinc, your skin may become dry and pale. If you have noticed the appearance of stretch marks on the body, this too could be a lack of zinc. When you have enough zinc present in the body, it performs synthesis within the cells which can help the healing of acne wounds faster.
5. Weight Loss
Weight loss is a symptom of zinc deficiency, but can also be a symptom of other diseases or deficiencies. As mentioned before, it can lead to loss of appetite that can indirectly cause weight loss or hinder the growth of new cells and tissues in the body. Children with a zinc deficiency when they are born may also be underweight.
6. Weak Immunity
Zinc is also absolutely essential to maintain immune function. Specifically, it is vital for:
- T-cell growth and differentiation into the white blood cells that we need to ward off disease.
- Apoptosis (“programmed cell death”) to kill dangerous bacteria, virus and cancer cells.
- Gene transcription, the first step of gene expression.
- Protective functions of our cell membranes.
Zinc is also a key structural component for a slew of hormone receptors and proteins that contribute to healthy, balance mood and immune function.
A compromised immune system makes one susceptible to infection. One of these infections is a bacteria that causes diarrhea.
Hypogonadism is a medical term used for improper functioning of the reproductive system that results in a defect in the proper operation of gonads (ovaries or testes). The gonads have two functions: to produce hormones and to produce eggs or sperm. The deficiency of sex and reproductive hormones can result in defective primary or secondary sexual development. This is a serious disorder that can be avoided by consuming zinc-rich foods.
Zinc Deficiency Treatment
The most obvious zinc deficiency treatment is increasing intake of foods rich in zinc content. It is best to take in oysters, nuts, peas, meat products, eggs, whole wheat grains, oats and pumpkin seeds. Also intake of vitamins such as vitamin A, E and B6, as well as minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, can help in the absorption of zinc so it would be best to add these in your daily supplementation.
Severe zinc deficiency can be managed through intake of zinc supplements. They are now available in two forms: zinc sulfate and zinc gluconate, the doses of which range from about 15 to 300 milligrams. The chelated zinc form is most recommended. However, when taking these supplements, make sure that you are aware of the risks and interactions of high amounts of zinc.