Nowadays, zinc deficiency is a common health issue, affecting one out of three people. However, just a few of them are aware of this, because the symptoms are often mistaken for something else or even ignored when not severe. Besides the inadequate intake of zinc, another problem that leads to this deficiency is that many of us have problems with its absorption.
Even though some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency are usually not visible, zinc is a vital mineral for your body, necessary for its normal functioning. Besides the fact that zinc stimulates the activity of almost 100 enzymes, it also has a significant role in cell growth and division, as well as breaking down the carbohydrates. Without a proper intake of zinc, your body will have difficulties in healing its wounds and the immune system will be weakened. These attributes make it a crucial element during pregnancy, infancy and childhood because the child needs it for proper development. Not mention that this mineral is also important for two senses: taste and smell.
The symptoms of zinc deficiency range from hair loss to dizziness, many of them being associated with other health problems. When suffering from a lack of zinc, people usually experience loss of appetite, moodiness, headaches, low libido, impotence, delayed healing of the wounds, white spots on fingernails, brittle nails, faded sense of taste or smell. Another worrying symptom is growth retardation, which can be also caused by a zinc deficiency.
There are certain factors, ranging from daily habits to health issues, which increase the likelihood of zinc deficiency.
People who suffer from diabetes have a high risk of developing zinc deficiency. Elderly people are also prone to having this problem. Those who have diabetes are usually having trouble with wound healing, and a low level of zinc will worsen this problem. On the other hand, an inadequate intake of zinc in elderly people will lead to a weakened immune system.
Another problem that aggravates a zinc deficiency is alcoholism, which impacts zinc absorption.
Those who have H-pylori infection or use drugs that are zinc-depleting – such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and blood pressure prescribed medication – are also prone to developing zinc deficiency.
Pregnant women and those who are still lactating also need more zinc, because the baby gets some of it, as he/she needs it for a healthy development.
Vegetarians are also a group of people with a high risk of having zinc deficiency or a low level of zinc because this mineral is usually found in animal products. There are vegetarian foods that contain high levels of zinc, but they also have large amounts of phytic acid, which reduces the zinc absorption.
Natural Sources of Zinc
Fortunately, there are plenty of foods that are rich in zinc and they can increase or maintain the zinc level in your body. These foods are beef, spinach, shrimp, kidney beans, oysters, garlic, peanuts, eggs, pork, turkey, lobster, salmon, peas, brown rice, mushrooms, flax seeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Try to include these in your daily diet for a proper amount of zinc.