Zinc is a vital nutrient that is important for healthy functioning of the human body. Zinc deficiency is often caused by inadequate supply of zinc in the diet, or the malabsorption of zinc nutrients by the body. The condition is mostly prevalent in pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly, and young children. Zinc plays a very important role in several aspects of the body’s immune system. Besides playing a vital role in cell division, it helps in healing wounds, blood clotting, DNA synthesis, fetal growth and development, and protein synthesis.
On the other hand, inherent gastrointestinal complications such as kidney disease, liver disease, and other problems and medications can prevent the appropriate absorption of zinc by the body, thus leading to zinc deficiency. Drinking too much alcohol regularly is another common reason for becoming deficient. In many cases, most people often fail to realize that they are suffering from zinc deficiency. Here are a few tips on how to detect zinc deficiency.
One of the obvious signs that you might have a Zinc deficiency is if you’re suffering from acne. Whilst not every single person suffering from this skin condition will have a zinc deficiency, research has shown that the majority do. You may also get areas of skin rashes.
Compromised Immune System
One of the most common signs of zinc deficiency is a compromised immune system. Zinc plays a vital role in numerous cell activities, as a result, it affects, various cell activities. Its deficiency can lead to weakened or reduced antibodies production, thus compromising the body’s immune system. In most cases, a person who is zinc deficient will be more prone to infections such as flu.
As earlier stated, a compromised immune system will make the body more susceptible to infections. One of the most common infections among zinc deficient people is a bacteria that is responsible for causing diarrhea. If you are frequently experience bouts of diarrhea and you have been tested for cholera or dysentery and the test results are negative, there is a high likelihood that you are suffering from zinc deficiency.
Skin Lesions and Hair Loss
Zinc plays a very important role in ensuring normal growth of cells within the body. Consequently, zinc deficiency usually weakens normal cell activity, which often results in hair loss if the cells on the scalp are affected. Weakened cell activity also causes skin lesions. In fact, this is one of the most profound symptoms of zinc deficiency.
Poor Appetite and Anorexia
Another common sign of zinc deficiency is increased loss of appetite. If not identified and treated in the early stages, loss of appetite can ultimately lead to eating disorders such as anorexia. If you suddenly start feeling like you always don’t want to eat, there is a likelihood that you are suffering from zinc deficiency. Pregnant women should be more concerned here because certain stages of pregnancy often cause loss of appetite. Zinc deficiency might be confused with such pregnancy related symptoms, thus it is advisable to see a doctor once these symptoms occur.
Impairment of Motor and Cognitive Functions
Zinc deficiency in pregnant women can weaken the mother and even cause damage to the neurological system of the fetus. This often results in impaired motor and cognitive functions in the infant.
Other Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
Other signs that a person might be zinc deficient include reduced fertility, spots on the fingernails, ridged nails, loss of sleep, sex drive, smell and taste, mild anemia in some cases, and skin rashes.
Zinc deficiency can be treated using zinc supplements and boosting the intake of zinc by eating foods that are rich in zinc. These include foods like oats, wheat, eggs, pumpkin seeds, peas, meat, oysters, nuts, and milk. High amounts of zinc can make you low in copper, that’s why you should take a supplement that contains both at the correct ration. The amount you need will depend on the complaints you have. If you plan on taking more than 50mg a day for a long period, then it is recommended that you discuss this with your doctor first.