This is a post on Zinc Deficiency by kind permission of Biopractica from their articles.
Zinc is a vital mineral for our health and wellbeing, yet unfortunately, 85% of Australian women and 50% of men are not getting enough zinc in their diet. This is due to many factors, including poor zinc levels in the soil and over-processing of food.
Getting enough zinc in our diet every day is important because there are no specialized storage systems for zinc in the body. Sadly, even the healthiest diets may
not contain adequate amounts of zinc to meet the physiological needs of many people. Additionally, zinc absorption and utilization may be blocked by toxins, heavy metals, excess copper, and even phytates in our food. Lifestyle factors, such as increased exercise, alcohol and coffee consumption and vegetarian diets also increase the need for zinc, while higher levels are needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding, in the elderly and those with ongoing health conditions.
For these reasons, supplementing with a bioavailable form of zinc is a ‘must’ for many practitioners; however, the first job is recognizing the key clinical clues of zinc deficiency.
7 clinical clues of zinc deficiency:
1. White spots on the fingernails – It’s true that white spots classically occur in zinc-deficient individuals and might be a good clue that your client is low in
zinc. However, white spots can easily occur from a knock or injury to the nail bed and the absence of white spots does not rule out zinc deficiency.
2. Poor immune function – Zinc is essential for healthy immune cell function and its deficiency can be an underlying cause of frequent colds and flu and other immune challenges such as allergies. Zinc may also help inhibit the excessive release of histamine from mast cells, with a zinc deficiency likely to increase histamine production.
3. Issues with taste and smell – Researchers have confirmed that people with zinc deficiency have reduced sensation of taste and smell, and they’ve found that supplementation improves taste recognition and sensation.
4. Mood and neurological disturbances – Zinc plays an important part in modulating the brain’s response to stress, in fact, the highest levels of zinc in
the body are found in the hippocampus. Zinc is a cofactor for neurotransmitter function and helps protect our neurology by improving BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). It is no wonder that zinc deficiency is associated with mood changes ranging from depression, to rapidly changing thoughts, nervousness, hyperactivity, and even psychosis.
5. Gastrointestinal problems – Supplementation with zinc may help strengthen the intestinal lining to protect against ‘leaky gut’ and heal intestinal cells. Most gastrointestinal conditions benefit from zinc supplementation and often require higher levels because the intestinal absorption of zinc may be affected.
6. Skin complaints – It’s common knowledge that zinc is good for the skin and is important for wound healing. Low zinc levels might present with delayed wound healing or the appearance of stretch marks. More severe zinc deficiency may cause atopic dermatitis and a cracked, fissured appearance of the skin.
7. Thinning and greying hair –Zinc deficiency is associated with de-pigmentation of the hair. Zinc is also an essential cofactor needed for healthy thyroid function. Poor zinc status and an underlying thyroid issue may cause hair thinning and even alopecia.
There are many health conditions where zinc deficiency is also highly likely, such as hormonal complaints and reproductive issues, obesity and metabolic syndrome, liver disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, and many more. In clients with zinc deficiency, higher doses of up to 50mg per day may be required to restore zinc to optimum levels. Choosing a form of zinc with proven bioavailability, such as zinc citrate, will ensure excellent absorption through the gastrointestinal tract.