A zinc deficiency shouldn’t be underestimated. Being an essential nutrient for the human body, it’s involved in key biochemical reactions in the body.
Did you know that a deficiency of this trace element could have direct effects on growth, behaviour, neurological development and, primarily, the immune system? We tell you everything you need to know related to zinc, addressing various aspects on how to take it.
Is a Zinc deficiency in the body worrying?
It is, because the importance of this trace element in your body is such that there is no other nutrient that can replace it. And we regret to tell you that when there’s not a regular and sufficient supply, a zinc deficit occurs.
Although it can affect any of us, the truth is that a priori there are certain groups more likely to suffer their deficit. One group is people who follow exclusively vegan or vegetarian diets. This happens because foods rich in zinc, although they also contain exponents of the plant world, are mostly of animal origin.
Other people at risk are those with intestinal health problems.
Symptoms sound the alarm
Although some of them may be mistaken for signs of other pathologies or deficiencies, the following symptoms may be indicating that you need more zinc:
- Lack of energy and excessive tiredness
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Lack of concentration and learning problems
- Inflammatory injuries
- Decreased libido
- Problems with wound healing and inflammation of the skin
- Hair loss
- Brittle and/or white-spotted nails
- Sensory perception disorder
- Developmental problems
- Eye disorders
- Frequent diarrhoea
- Loss of sense of taste and smell
How and when should you take this essential mineral?
You may be thinking that following a varied diet is enough to cover your daily zinc requirements completely. Although in principle you’re right, there are many occasions when a deficiency still occurs, despite a good diet. Think that men need an intake of between 9-10mg of zinc a day, while that of women is around 7 mg a day.
Supplements can be of great help in these cases. So, if you’re not quite meeting your zinc requirements, try taking a quality dietary supplement that, in addition to this essential mineral, provides you with others too, such as iron, magnesium, calcium or copper.
Check the Recommended Daily Allowance here
Under Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 of 25 October 2011 on Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs), the recommended daily amount of zinc in adults is 10 mg.
What causes a Zinc deficiency?
There are many causes that can trigger such a deficiency. Let’s take a look at the main ones:
- Inadequate intake of foods containing zinc. Not only vegans and vegetarians would be included in this section, it also includes pregnant women and elderly people who, although needing to increase their daily intake, do not do so.
- Severe health disorders such as cirrhosis, kidney failure, diabetes or chronic diarrhoea, among other conditions, weaken the immune system and can be a risk factor for lack of zinc.
- Abundant losses through excretion. Sweat, urine, faeces and blood, in the case of menstruation, are the main excretory fluids for zinc
- Taking certain medication that can inhibit proper zinc uptake, such as antibiotics or contraceptives
- Too much fibre intake can negatively affect zinc absorption
And the consequences of a prolonged deficiency?
Zinc deficiency in the body manifests itself in various ways. In the end, it is a mineral that’s involved in many vital processes that, once disturbed, have obvious consequences:
- The immune system slows down its protective function, so the body is more vulnerable to the attack of viruses and bacteria, among other pathogens
- The nervous system is affected and, consequently, emotional disorders are more easily manifested. Depression, distress, and apathy can knock on your door if your input is deficient
- The male reproductive system is also affected, as the quality and quantity of sperm are altered. At the same time, sexual potency can decrease
- Skin rashes, especially around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals, often occur
- The fight against the harmful action of free radicals is difficult. And the explanation is very simple. If you lack zinc, you don’t have quality antioxidants to face them
The issue of pregnancy and zinc deserves a special mention. During this demanding stage, a lack of zinc could negatively affect the development of the foetus, so if you are expecting a child, it’s time to give your body zinc!
Zinc supplements, who are they suitable for?
We’ve already been giving some clues throughout this post. But let’s expand on the list of who a zinc supplement would be good for.
- For people who have any additional needs – athletes who perform intensive training, for example
- During pregnancy and breast-feeding
- For vegans and vegetarians, that is, people who follow a diet low in this mineral
- For people with a weakened immune system or who have acute or chronic infections
- For people who have higher requirements, as a result of the use of medicines
- For people who have skin problems, such as allergies, acne or eczema
- In situations that result in loss of zinc levels, such as severe diarrhoea
- For people who suffer from a deficiency
Knowing what you now know about zinc deficiencies, are you really going to let your body lack zinc?
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