Home Health & Relationship Top 15 Signs of Zinc Deficiency You Need to Know

Top 15 Signs of Zinc Deficiency You Need to Know

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Are you insulin resistant, prediabetic, or have Type 2 diabetes? Do you suffer from gut inflammation and digestive disorders such as Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or celiac disease? Are you eating a strict plant-based diet? If you answered Yes to any of these, your body could be deficient in zinc.

In today’s video, we explore the top 15 signs of zinc deficiency based on studies, and the zinc-rich foods you can add to your diet to reverse it.

Make sure you watch this video till the end. Some of the factors that cause poor absorption, increased loss from the body, or increased requirements for zinc may come as a real surprise!

As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice, we are not doctors.

First, why is zinc important for the body?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that helps with many aspects of cellular function. It is a cofactor for up to 300 enzymes in the body. Zinc helps in protein and DNA synthesis, gene expression, immune response, wound healing, cell division and skeletal growth.

Next, how can you know if your body is deficient in zinc?

Some signs of zinc deficiency in adults can be attributed to other pathologies; knowing them helps your doctor give a quicker diagnosis, if need be.

15. Gastrointestinal Issues.

Signs of leaky gut, such as diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac disease, and food sensitivities, can result from zinc deficiency. Low levels of this mineral alters your gut microbiota, and leads to the development of gastrointestinal diseases, largely due to its negative effect on epithelial barrier function. The tight junctions in the intestinal lining are broken apart, and toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles escape from the intestines, and enter the bloodstream. When this happens, inflammation spreads quickly through your body. The immune system attacks these “foreign invaders” and its own tissues in self-defense! This condition is known as leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability. According to studies, not only does zinc deficiency cause diarrhea, but chronic diarrhea can cause the deficiency, and promote even more diarrhea.

14. Increased Insulin Resistance.

Lower levels of zinc become more common when people are insulin resistant, prediabetic or have type 2 diabetes. Research shows that this creates a vicious cycle: zinc levels go down, which then leads to further insulin resistance. If you’re wondering whether zinc deficiency or diabetes came first, there is evidence in favor of both. Zinc deficiencies can be an indicator for diabetes, and those with type 2 tend to be zinc deficient. There are two main reasons for this: Those with diabetes often have decreased gastrointestinal absorption of nutrients, and this includes zinc. When blood sugar is consistently high, the frequency of urination increases, and more zinc is excreted. A low absorption rate combined with a high excretion rate means it is hard to retain enough zinc in the body.

13. Weakened Immune System.

Zinc works as a ‘gatekeeper’ for your immune system, and a deficiency has been associated with higher rates of infectious diseases. When a person starts catching colds and viral infections more easily, it may be a sign of zinc deficit. A deficiency in zinc impairs the maturation and function of B and T lymphocyte cells, and decreases the activity of natural killer (NK) cells. A lack of this mineral also inhibits the body’s ability to tame inflammation. A huge proportion of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract.

12. Histamine Intolerance.

Zinc inhibits the release of histamine, a compound released by white blood cells in response to an allergen. A deficiency causes more histamine to be released into surrounding tissue fluids, which produces many of the symptoms associated with allergies (swelling, itching, mucus and sneezing and hives). High histamine levels increase a person’s sensitivity to all allergic reactions – a condition called “histamine intolerance”.

11. Slow Wound Healing.

Zinc plays a major role in regulating every phase of the wound healing process, and a deficiency is linked with delayed wound healing.

10. Loss of Taste and Smell.

A deficiency in zinc can cause a loss of taste and smell, especially in older adults. Zinc regulates the enzyme required for smell and taste perception that lives in your saliva and nasal mucus. This enzyme, known as carbonic anhydrase, is responsible for creating new taste bud and olfactory receptors as old ones need to be replaced every two weeks.

9. Hearing Loss and Tinnitus.

When blood levels of zinc are low, the body cannot spare enough zinc to protect against hearing loss and tinnitus. Studies confirm that many tinnitus patients are already deficient in zinc; the lower the zinc levels, the more severe the tinnitus can become.

8. Unexplained Hair Loss.

One sign of zinc deficiency is alopecia – unexplainable hair loss. Zinc plays a key role in creating hair thickness, strength, and regrowth. It helps create proteins and keratin (the building blocks of hair cells), make DNA for hair cell division, and regulates thyroid hormones. If any of these processes don’t work well, hair loss can occur.

7. Skin and Nail Issues.

Zinc deficiency may manifest as acne, eczema, xerosis. (dry, scaling skin), and seborrheic dermatitis. (scaly patches on the scalp and other oily areas). A lack of this mineral has also been associated with white spots and ridges on the nails. (leukonychia).

6. Blurry Vision.

Zinc is highly concentrated in the retina, and plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina, in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. A deficiency in zinc can cause blurry vision from night blindness, cataracts and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

5. Low Testosterone.

Zinc is crucial for the production of testosterone. A deficiency has been linked with a dip in testosterone levels. (hypogonadism). Very low levels of zinc also affect sperm production. If you frequently experience low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, or are losing muscle mass, these may be signs of low testosterone levels. Studies have also found a correlation between prostate cancer and low zinc levels.

4. Harder to Conceive.

Zinc plays an important role in the menstrual cycle, including ovulation. A zinc deficiency can negatively affect egg quality, and make it harder for women to get pregnant. Studies show that women with infertility have lower zinc levels in the follicular fluids than fertile women.

3. Loss of Appetite, Weight Loss.

Zinc is involved in appetite-regulation through the two satiety hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Because low zinc levels result in digestive problems, metabolism is reduced to a great extent. This leads to a loss of appetite followed by unintentional weight loss.

2. Chronic Fatigue, Brain Fog

Zinc deficiency hinders energy production and liver detoxification, resulting in physical fatigue, muscular weakness, and mental fogginess or fatigue. Low levels of zinc can cause increased anxiety and depression.

1. Decreased Bone Density.

Zinc is vital for normal skeletal growth, bone homeostasis, and may promote bone regeneration. Human studies have shown that low serum levels of zinc is associated with osteoporosis.

Next, what are the benefits when you get more zinc in your diet?

The consumption of foods high in zinc and zinc supplements has been shown to:

Tighten “leaky gut” in Crohn’s disease, and enhance epithelial barrier function, even in non-disease states.

Reduce inflammation in the body, including the lining of the digestive tract.

Reduce blood glucose in people who are insulin resistant.

Help increase bone density and support strong bones.

Prevent common cold and lower respiratory tract infections.

Strengthen immune system function and alleviate allergy symptoms.

Help the body produce melatonin and serotonin, and promote better sleep.

Reduce progression of AMD and cataracts.

Support healthy thyroid hormone production and weight management.

Alleviate inflammatory skin issues like acne, rosacea and eczema.

Help with male fertility problems, including erectile dysfunction and hypogonadism.

Promote optimal fertility in women, and reduce menopause symptoms.

Positively improve mood, and boost memory and learning ability.

Protect against noise-induced hearing loss, and improve symptoms of tinnitus.

Next, what are some foods high in zinc? Here are 12 good ones.

  1. Oysters.
  2. Alaskan crab.
  3. Hemp seeds.
  4. Cashews.
  5. Pumpkin seeds.
  6. Grass-fed beef.
  7. Chickpeas.
  8. Lentils.
  9. Black beans.
  10. Chia seeds.
  11. Raw oats.
  12. Greater than 75% dark chocolate.

So, how much zinc should you consume daily?

The RDA of zinc for adults per day is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men through diet. Pregnant and lactating women need more zinc. Vegetarians and vegans may need to increase daily intake by up to 50%. Older adults and people with diseases that inhibit zinc absorption may need to supplement.

Next, a note about too much supplemental zinc.

When it comes to zinc, more is not merrier. Overloading on zinc causes side effects like nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps, disrupts the absorption of copper, and may cause the destruction of healthy cells.

Next, you might be wondering: what causes zinc deficiency?

The main reasons for zinc deficiency are low intake, poor absorption and medical conditions, such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia, cancer, chronic diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, liver and kidney disease. Certain medications like diuretics and immunosuppressants may interfere with zinc absorption. A plant-based diet has also been linked to low zinc levels, because our bodies are more efficient in absorbing zinc from animal rather than plant sources. A diet high in phytate-containing grains and legumes, oxalate-rich leafy greens, foods grown in nutrient-deficient soil, and processed foods can all lead to zinc deficiency. The aging process and excessive alcohol consumption are also factors that deplete zinc. Athletes and those who sweat a lot are more likely to be deficient.

Lastly, how is zinc deficiency diagnosed?

A blood plasma test is the most widely used test for zinc deficiency. A urine test and analysis of a hair strand can also measure the zinc content. There is also a zinc taste test, but this is not considered scientific or reliable.

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And now over to you! Do you have symptoms of zinc deficiency? What are you doing to correct this?

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