Zinc is one of the most important minerals for child’s growth and development, but in the same time, it is one of the most underrated minerals. How many times have you heard someone complain about zinc deficiency? I know I do not hear that complaint often. Most of my friends are usually iron deficient, magnesium deficient or vitamin C deficient.
Now, before I go over to the symptoms of zinc deficiency, allow me to scare you a little. According to statistics, zinc is one of the leading risk factors for diseases, with almost one million people losing their life due to zinc deficiency. Some of the problems occurring due to zinc deficiency are diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia, all of which are common in Africa, Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean where zinc is a commodity few can allow. Everyone needs zinc to survive, not just people, but animals and plants as well.
How Much Zinc You Need?
According to some data, up to 2 billion people in a world with 7 million people are affected by marginal zinc levels. The scary part is, those 2 million people might not even know they have a zinc deficiency. Before we go over to the symptoms of zinc deficiency, let’s take a look at the daily recommended dose of zinc for adults, children and males and females.
|0–6 months||2 mg*||2 mg*|
|7–12 months||3 mg||3 mg|
|1–3 years||3 mg||3 mg|
|4–8 years||5 mg||5 mg|
|9–13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14–18 years||11 mg||9 mg||12 mg||13 mg|
|19+ years||11 mg||8 mg||11 mg||12 mg|
Poor Neurological Function
One of the first signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency is a poor neurological function. The problems usually start in childhood, but they continue well into the adult life. If you are noticing your focus is not where it should be, or you have troubles memorizing things, chances are, your zinc levels are not where they should be.
Poor diet is the reason, and you should consult your healthcare physician how to increase your zinc intake since zinc is best absorbed when consumed with other nutrients.
I mentioned at the beginning that diarrhea is one of the aftermaths of zinc deficiency and one that can lead to death in severe cases. When you are low on zinc, your immunity levels are down, and persistent diarrhea takes over. In developing countries, more than 2 million children are affected by diarrhea every year.
Loss of Appetite
To make matters worse, you might experience both diarrhea and loss of appetite. The two symptoms rarely go hand in hand, but it can happen. And if not treated, zinc deficiency and loss of appetite can lead to anorexia, an eating disorder that has affected more than 4% of the world population of women.
I mentioned previously that zinc deficiency can often cause weak immunity. The problem is, many other deficiencies cause weaker immune system, a vitamin C deficiency for example. What happens when your zinc level is low? For starters, your white blood cells do not grow as normally, cells that fight off bacteria and viruses do not develop as well, and our cell membranes lose their protective function. Zinc is also vital for the work of several hormones and proteins in our body.
Loss of Hair
Loss of hair can be attributed to two factors besides age. The first one is iron deficiency, and the second is a zinc deficiency. Make sure to check which is the cause for your thinning and loss of hair. The condition is called hypothyroidism, and the result is thinning and loss of hair.
Leaky gut might not sound as dangerous to you, but leaky gut is just the first step. The results of leaky gut are nutrient malabsorption (further complicating things and preventing you from getting healthy nutrients), skin disorders, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, allergies and skin disorders.
I mentioned that leaky gut leads to allergies, another common symptom of zinc deficiency. If you find yourself prone to allergies from foods and environment you previously had no problems with, check your zinc levels. Zinc deficiency increases your histamine levels, and without zinc, more histamine is released to the tissue fluids. And if you didn’t know, more histamine leads to common symptoms associated with allergies and increased sensitivity to allergic reactions.
For boys and girls in puberty, zinc is one of the most important minerals. Without it, they are prone to acnes, and we all know what they do to your self-esteem. I am thankful that my parents fed me with nutrients rich foods, and I never had to suffer from acne during my puberty. But don’t think for a second acne are just puberty problem. You can them in adulthood as well, so make sure to get your zinc.