Zinc Deficiency: How to Spot it and Fix it
Zinc is a vital mineral for the body. Having a healthy amount in your system is crucial for optimal function. Zinc is present in many foods and is relatively easy to come by for your nutritional and supplemental needs. However, a zinc deficiency is capable of causing several health complications to your body. Zinc deficiency symptoms are not presented until zinc levels have been considerably low in the body for months at a time. A low intake of zinc in one's diet or certain medical conditions can make you susceptible to this mineral deficiency.
Zinc is crucial to the body since it has a significant factor in your eye health, metabolism and senses of smell and taste. A zinc deficiency diagnosis can be challenging since a standard blood test can't identify it. Your diet history, paired with your symptoms, will assist in this process to help identify lowered zinc levels in your system. Solutions to a zinc deficiency can be either consuming foods rich in the mineral or taking supplements regularly. One must undergo this process to regulate zinc levels in their body and reach optimal body function. Here's how to identify the signs of zinc deficiency.
How to Spot it
Low levels of zinc in the body can cause several complications with your body's optimal health. They don't present themselves early on, but over time they become more noticeable. If you have a zinc deficiency, you are likely to experience some of the following symptoms:
- Low appetite
- Slow healing rate for wounds
- Low immune system
- Concentration difficulty
- Lack of taste
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
- Sexual impotence
Please be aware that these symptoms are vague and can be associated with other health issues. To rule out nutritional deficiencies and other health problems, it is advised not to self-diagnose and consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Zinc deficiency is caused mainly by a lack of intake through diet. Some other factors can affect this situation, such as health issues. Certain people can't naturally absorb zinc through their diet, while others may have an illness that allows the body to lose zinc or prevents absorption through medications. Pregnancy is also a cause of zinc deficiency. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers tend to lose zinc as their baby grows from absorption of the mineral. Many vegetarians are susceptible to zinc deficiency due to the lack of zinc in plant-based foods. These factors must be considered for a zinc deficiency diagnosis. Specific health issues that can lead to zinc deficiency include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Sickle cell disease
- Liver disease
- GI tract disorder
A zinc deficiency can have a pretty negative effect on the body. It is an antioxidant for the body and helps with repairing oxidized cells. Zinc is also essential in the growth and development of children. This mineral also plays a crucial role in our immune systems and the healing of our wounds. Our immune systems are likely to become underactive, and our wounds can heal slower in the case of a zinc deficiency.
Zinc deficiency symptoms can be difficult to identify, especially in milder forms. They can be very non-specific and could be the result of a mineral deficiency or something else. You will need to consult with a doctor who will evaluate your medical history and conduct a physical examination. Also, as part of your evaluation, you may need to undergo diagnostic tests. You will then need to have a series of blood tests to rule out other factors contributing to your symptoms. One such blood test is a Complete Blood Count or CBC. This test indicates whether someone has an infection or anaemia, which has similar symptoms to a zinc deficiency. You may also have your electrolyte levels checked. This test provides information on whether someone has nutritional deficiencies or an illness. Your doctor may also conduct tests on your thyroid to rule out thyroid disease, which can have the same symptoms as a zinc deficiency.
How to Fix it
You will need to increase your intake of zinc in your diet. Eating foods that are highly rich in zinc is the best way to combat deficiency. Shellfish, specifically oysters, contain a high concentration of zinc. One serving is more than a full-grown adult needs in a day. Beef and eggs are also high in zinc, along with nuts and beans being good plant-based alternatives. However, the zinc in vegetarian options is not absorbed that well.
To avoid a deficiency, make sure to include a variety of zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as:
- Red meat
- Low-fat milk
Taking a supplement is also an excellent option to increase your zinc levels. The standard daily intake for an average adult over 14 is 11mg for males and 9mg for females. A good zinc supplement to take is Viridian Zinc Citrate. It is a copper-free formulation and combined with citric acid for stabilization. GMO-free and made from 100% active ingredients, this supplement is also suitable for vegans. It is recommended to take one capsule per day with food or as advised by a medical professional. Be aware that consuming a high level of zinc daily measured at 40mg can cause toxicity in the body. This can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, and headaches. It is highly advised to first consult a medical professional before taking any mineral supplement to avoid such symptoms.
A zinc deficiency is very treatable and highly preventable. All one has to do is be aware of their diet and health choices. Being aware of the causes can save you a lot of time and stress. Keep in mind that if you do have a zinc deficiency, it is very likely that you might have another nutritional deficiency. Remember that the symptoms take time to present, and it is crucial to speak with a medical professional as soon as they do. A complete checkup can identify your problem's root and pick up anything else that might be present.