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Home > Blog > The Importance of Zinc and Important Signs of Zinc Deficiencies

The Importance of Zinc and Important Signs of Zinc Deficiencies

The Importance of Zinc and Important Signs of Zinc Deficiencies

Max Lab

Feb 13, 2024

Zinc is one of the essential nutrients required by the human body to stay healthy.  is a trace mineral, which means that it is only required by the body in small quantities and can be found in several plant- and animal-based foods as well as supplements. The body uses zinc for hair and skin health, strengthening the immune system, cell growth, and much more. It also helps in the creation of DNA and in healing wounds. After iron, zinc is the second-most abundant trace mineral found in the body, present in every single cell. However, the human body cannot naturally produce zinc and must be obtained through food or supplements.

Health Benefits of Zinc

Helps with Diarrhoea

Using zinc for diarrhoea treatment is a popular choice for young children and people who have impaired immunity and malnourishment. It is known to be very effective at reducing the severity and duration of diarrhoea while also helping prevent subsequent cases of diarrhoea.

Boosts Immunity

The use of zinc for strengthening a weak immune system is one of the most important benefits of this nutrient. It is crucial for the functioning of immune cells and for cell signalling. Low levels of zinc in the body can lead to an increased risk of contracting infections like pneumonia.

Faster Wound Healing

As zinc is an important nutrient for immune function, collagen synthesis, and inflammatory response, it is also crucial for the proper healing of wounds. Supplementing treatment with zinc can help speed up the healing of wounds in the body. On the other hand, a deficiency of zinc in the body can slow down the healing process for wounds.

Minimised Risk of Age-Related Diseases

Zinc can help improve the immune response and relieve oxidative stress by boosting the activity of T-cells and natural killer cells, it helps protect the body from several types of infections. It may also significantly reduce the risk of developing certain age-related disorders and conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), pneumonia, and other infections. It may also help boost one’s overall mental performance.

Acne Treatment

Acne is a common skin condition that is generally caused by inflammation, bacteria, or the obstruction of oil-producing glands. Both topical and oral zinc treatments are known to be highly effective in reducing inflammation, inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria (P. acnes), and suppressing the activity of the oil glands, which make it a popular treatment for acne.

Reduces Inflammation

Oxidative stress is one of the biggest contributors to chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, mental declination, and cancer, as well as chronic inflammation. Zinc can be very helpful for relieving oxidative stress and for reducing the levels of certain inflammatory proteins in the body.

Better Hair Growth

Zinc plays an important role in maintaining the structure of the hair follicles within the scalp. As a result, it not only promotes better hair growth but also keeps the scalp healthy. This is the reason why many doctors suggest zinc for hair growth as well.

What is Zinc Deficiency?

Zinc deficiency is a condition where an individual has low levels of zinc in their body. This may happen if one is not intaking the suggested daily value of zinc in their diet. Although severe zinc deficiency is uncommon, it may occur in people who are at high risk for this deficiency. Mild zinc deficiencies, on the other hand, are relatively common.

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency

  • Diarrhoea.
  • Decreased immunity.
  • Excessive hair loss.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Dry and flaky skin.
  • Fertility issues.
  • Slow healing of wounds.

Risk Factors for a Zinc Deficiency

  • Gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease.
  • Lack of proper amounts of nutrients in the daily diet.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Infants over 6 months who are exclusively breastfed.
  • Sickle cell anaemia.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.

How to Treat a Zinc Deficiency

Generally, mild zinc deficiencies can be easily treated by making a few changes in one’s dietary habits. It is important to take a zinc rich diet. However, in some cases, one may be advised to consume supplements for a certain period of time. of the regular consumption of zinc tablets can help treat the deficiency quicker.

There are several animal- and plant-based foods that are naturally rich in zinc. Some of them are:

Non-Vegetarian

  • Shellfish like oysters, crabs, mussels, lobster, and clams.
  • Meat like beef, pork, and lamb.
  • Poultry like turkey and chicken.
  • Fish like flounder, sardines, salmon, and sole.
  • Eggs

Vegetarian

  • Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and kidney beans.
  • Nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds, cashews, and hemp seeds.
  • Dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cheese.
  • Whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice.
  • Vegetables like mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus, and beet greens.
  • Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and snack bars.

Precautions to Take

Zinc deficiency can lead to several health issues, which is why it should be treated on time. Further, excessive intake of zinc supplements can also be harmful. High levels of zinc levels may lead to zinc toxicity. Whether it is for women or for men, zinc supplements should only be taken if and as suggested by a doctor, as the dosage varies, depending on factors like age, existing zinc levels, etc.

Zinc Toxicity

Common symptoms of zinc toxicity include:

Other than this, high zinc levels can also interfere with the absorption of other nutrients like copper, iron, and magnesium. As a result, it may lead to other deficiencies, which may further lead to several serious health issues. Taking high doses of zinc supplements for a prolonged period may also cause problems such as lower immunity and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol).

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