Zinc is a particularly important trace element in the body. Sufficient amounts are needed for supporting the processes of various body systems. It is greatly beneficial to a healthy immune system and most frequently associated with avoiding or reducing the length of upper respiratory infections or the common cold. It is also essential for the body’s energy levels and metabolism.
What Causes Zinc Deficiency?
Some factors that can cause a zinc deficiency in the body include alcoholism, chronic kidney disease, malnourishment and limited or no intake of animal proteins. It is harder for the body to get zinc from vegetable sources than from meat sources, therefore individuals with vegetarian diets are more prone to suffer from a deficient supply of zinc. A healthy diet is important for maintaining required levels of zinc.
Signs of Zinc Deficiency
Because zinc is vital to immune health, a deficiency can leave you vulnerable to bacterial or viral infections.
Loss of Appetite
If your food seems to have lost its flavor, you may be experiencing low zinc levels. Studies have shown appetite changes, especially in those over 60, who have reduced ability to taste or smell, could be deficient in zinc.
Stunted Growth in Children
Children deficient in zinc tend to weigh less and be shorter than other children their own age. It is best to manage deficiencies in children with changes in diet. When zinc levels are restored, children usually resume natural growth.
Noticing more hair than normal in the shower drain or on the hairbrush could be a good sign that you need more zinc in your body.
Low zinc levels in the body have shown to cause diminished hearing.
If you already suffer from an autoimmune disease, Wilson’s Disease, neurological disorder, atherosclerosis or diabetes, you are more susceptible to a shortage of zinc.
Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
Persistent diarrhea can be an indication of low zinc levels in the body.
Chronic stress can cause histamine levels in the body to rise which may result in food or environmental sensitivities.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Characterized by bloating, gas, cramps and food sensitivity, Leaky Gut Syndrome may be a symptom of not getting appropriate amounts of zinc into your body.
Some individuals develop skin problems as a result of inadequate zinc such as rashes, dry skin or acne.
How Much Zinc Do You Need?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes suggestions on how much zinc is required to keep the body healthy. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for men is 11 mg per day. Women should get 8 mg per day while pregnant women need 11mg and nursing mothers require 12 mg.
Treating Zinc Deficiency
Incorporating more zinc into the body may be as simple as changes in your diet. Eating more of certain foods containing zinc can go a long way toward keeping your required level. Adding meats like beef, pork and chicken can be useful. Nuts such as almonds and cashews are also beneficial. Seafood such as oysters, lobster, and crab are all high in zinc. Fortified breakfast cereals and oatmeal are good choices for the first meal of the day. Other foods such as chickpeas, Swiss cheese, and kidney beans can also help raise zinc levels in the body.
It is always better to restore vitamins and minerals in the body naturally in the foods that you eat but if that is not possible, dietary supplements taken orally are available over the counter. Zinc may also be given by injection but will need to be supervised by a health care professional.