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Zinc Deficiency: What Everyone Must Know About

A man feeling low because of zinc deficiency

Zinc is an essential nutrient for our body as it plays many vital roles in keeping us healthy and boosting our immune system. Our body doesn’t naturally produce zinc, so it’s important that we get the required intake through food or dietary supplements.

Zinc deficiency may not be widespread in the US, but a lot of people worldwide are still at risk as it affects 31% of the world’s population, and prevalence rates range from 4 to 73% in several countries. Mostly pregnant women, people with gastrointestinal diseases, and vegetarians are at risk.

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency

Even though zinc deficiency has many signs and symptoms, some of these can also be due to multiple other deficiencies or medical problems, so do keep that in mind.

Low zinc in our body can cause many problems. Some are noticeable right away, while others aren’t. Common symptoms that have been associated with zinc deficiency are as follows.

  • Frequent symptoms of the common cold. Zinc deficiency weakens your immune system, causing you to catch a cold very often. Zinc supplements have been known to help with this.
  • Diarrhea
  • Slowed down wound healing
  • Predisposition to infections
  • Skin ulcers or skin rashes around the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal taste or smell
  • Difficulty concentrating and blurred vision
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Drops in blood sugar level

Causes

Over 1.1 billion people in the world are zinc-deficient due to various reasons, including poor diet. But there are three main reasons for zinc deficiency – inadequate diet, poor absorption of zinc, and chronic conditions.

Chronic conditions can include alcohol addiction, chronic liver disease, diarrhea, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease.

Zinc deficiency has also been linked to vegetarianism and old age. Vegetarians have low zinc levels in their bodies due to their vegetable intake. Zinc is mostly found in meat, and vegetarians steer clear of that. Even though they consume foods like nuts, beans, lentils, and whole-grain foods, these foods can undermine the body’s ability to properly absorb zinc.

Whereas in old people, zinc deficiency is due to the inability to consume a variety of foods.

Nuts in a clear glass bowl

Treating Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency can be treated by making some required changes in your diet. Foods that are naturally rich in zinc like red meat, wheat germ, legumes, seeds, eggs, mushrooms, poultry, wild rice, seeds, and shellfish like oysters should be incorporated into your meal plans. You can also start taking cereals as they’re fortified with zinc.

Zinc is also there in many multivitamin supplements but before taking those, always consult with a doctor first, especially if you’re on other medications.

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