HOW TO RECOGNIZE A SHORTAGE OF ZINC
Zinc is a trace element that functions as an antioxidant in the human body. In fact, after iron, zinc is the most abundant trace element in your entire body (1
). Zinc is needed for the functioning of more than 300 enzymes that help with your metabolism, digestion, nerves, and many more processes (2
In addition to iron, zinc causes a lot of concern when it comes to vegans and vegetarians, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN). This is because meat naturally contains zinc and can even ensure better absorption. So, because vegetarians and vegans don't eat meat, they would need up to 50% more zinc than people who do.
Zinc is a important mineral to the human body. Since our body is unable to create this mineral itself, we need to get zinc from our foods. Zinc is found in various products such as meat, legumes, pumpkin and sesame seeds, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, dairy products, eggs, dark chocolate, shellfish, and plankton.
Although other vitamins and minerals receive more attention in the news, scientists say that nearly two billion people worldwide have a zinc deficiency.
There are certain groups of people that have a higher risk of creating a zinc deficiency. Those people may benefit from using zinc supplements next to their daily meals. It is, however, important to note that if you suspect you have a shortage of zinc, you should always consult a doctor before taking any supplements.
People with a higher risk of a zinc deficiency include:
- People with chronic kidney disease,
- People following a vegetarian or vegan diet,
- People with a chronic bowel disease, like Crohn’s disease,
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women,
- Older infants who are breastfed only,
- People who abuse alcohol,
- People with sickle cell anemia (red blood cell disorder),
- Malnourished people, including people with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
A shortage of zinc can be recognized by the following symptoms. If you recognize one or more, please consult your physician.
When it comes to minerals, you are probably more familiar with the positive effects of magnesium, or the disadvantages of an iron deficiency. Zinc is often at the bottom of the list, even though it has a significant impact on multiple body functions.
A part of the body where zinc plays a significant role is the eyes. There, zinc is found in high concentrations. It is located in a tissue layer with blood vessels just below the retina. It helps to bring vitamin A from the liver to this point, allowing your eyes to produce melanin. This fabric ensures the color of your eyes. Besides, research has shown that poor visibility is associated with low zinc content.
Studies have shown that zinc also plays a vital role in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This creates a blurry spot in your view. A study executed by the National Eye Institute discovered that taking zinc, along with other antioxidants, reduces the risk of developing AMD by approximately 25% (5
It is also useful to mention that a low level of zinc was combined with beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (similar nutrients that are in our eye area) and achieved the same results (6
In short: zinc affects the color of your eyes, but also the development of AMD. Zinc deficiency can cause poor vision, while supplements help prevent this process.
Zinc is often used in hospitals as a treatment for burns, certain ulcers, and other skin damage (7
). Because this mineral has an essential role in synthesizing collagen, the function of the immune system and inhibiting inflammation, it is necessary for proper healing. Your skin even contains a relatively large amount (about 5%) of all the zinc in your body (8
While a zinc deficiency causes less rapid healing, zinc supplementation can actually lead to a faster cure for people with wounds. In a 12-week study with 60 people with diabetic foot ulcers, people with a 200 mg zinc intake per day had a more significant reduction in ulcer size in comparison to the placebo group (9
Because zinc is essential for your immune system, you are more susceptible to viral or bacterial infections when you suffer from a zinc deficiency. A wound or cut requires longer to heal because your body uses zinc to restore tissue. Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human body health due to its vital role in bone growth, bone metabolism, nervous system, immune system, and wound healing (10
In short: zinc can help to heal wounds and infections quickly. A shortage of zinc, therefore, may result in a reduced healing speed.