Our body needs zinc for almost all processes. So it seems logical that a zinc deficiency can cause us problems.
But what exactly happens if we don’t have enough zinc? How do you notice a zinc deficiency? How can you counteract this?
All in turn.
First of all, it is important that you take indications of zinc deficiency seriously and should definitely discuss and check with a doctor. Too much is not good either – after all, it is a heavy metal.
The deficiency may also be through no fault of its own: the chronic disorder.
Zinc deficiency due to zinc absorption disorder
As a rule, it doesn’t get that bad, but for the sake of completeness we start with the chronic deficiency caused by a congenital disease.
A congenital zinc uptake disorder can lead to a chronic zinc deficiency: this disorder is called acrodermatitis enteropathica. You would notice the disease, because then your skin and mucous membranes would be extremely sensitive to injuries.
Already in the first months of life a symmetrical rash forms around all body openings as well as on the hands, feet and head. The mucosal injuries are noticeable due to frequent gum inflammation. Even growth is slowing down.
Precipitation, higher risk of infection and also problems with the nervous system – such as growth delays or other disorders – are shown here.
We start with this topic because the chronic disorders of the digestive tract are usually the cause of a permanent zinc deficiency. For this purpose, persons also have a large zinc deficiency after severe burns caused by the wound healing process.
The usual symptoms of zinc deficiency
Now it’s getting serious: the usual symptoms to watch out for follow. Short reminder: When these symptoms appear, you should clarify this with your doctor of trust.
A slight zinc deficiency can already lead to hair loss or reduced sense of taste. This can also lead to loss of appetite. But it can also mean brittle hair and nails.
Especially in the growth phase, it is time to be careful. A zinc deficiency disturbs the so-called length growth of the bones.
In addition, it is rather skin eczema and wound healing disorderswith which missing zinc is associated. As with chronic deficiency, there may also be breakdowns or disturbances in perception and memory.
The accompanying increased risk of infection is still a reason to pay as much attention as possible to the zinc balance.
Zinc deficiency can also cause potency problems in men, as zinc is also needed for the formation and control of hormones.
Here is a list of skin symptoms, mental and hormonal symptoms as well as other impairments that may also occur:
- Lack of drive,
- Concentration disorders,
- dry, scaly skin,
- decreased libido,
- increased blood sugar level,
- skin fungi,
- Visual impairments and
- dry eyes.
The problem with symptoms of zinc deficiency, however, is that each individual symptom can also have other causes. Symptoms alone are not enough to prove undersupply. There are also so many symptoms because zinc is involved in so many processes in the body.
The causes of zinc deficiency
One reason that can lead to zinc deficiency, you know for sure: stress. If you are in a stressful situation, there may also be signs of deficiency – including a zinc deficiency.
However, there are also nutritional reasons for undersupply. Vegetable products contain only small amounts of zinc. This is reinforced by the fact that many healthy foods such as whole grains further inhibit zinc intake.
They contain relatively much of a substance that does just that: phytic acid or rather the special form phytate. Phytates bind zinc in the gastrointestinal tract and reduce bioavailability. Your body can no longer process the substances.
Foods affected include fresh grain porridge and legumes. So if you feed yourself with little or little animal protein, the zinc intake in the intestine is reduced by up to %. With a predominantly vegan or vegetarian diet, you should be carefulthat you only eat whole grains or legumes in one of the following four forms:
- fermented or
For plant-based nutrition, the German Consumer Centre recommends that oilseeds and nuts should be eaten. Cashew and pecan sins in particular will help you with this.
Vegans must therefore pay particular attention to their zinc intake. Here it also helps to draw up nutrition plans or to tackle supplementation with medical advice.
However, if you rely on an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet, eggs and dairy products will help you enormously.
In general, as a member of the following groups of people, you should have your zinc balance monitored more often:
- Seniors and seniors
- Patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, …)
- People with a vegetariandiet (vegan, vegetarian, …)
According to studies, however, there may also be psychological reasons that you suffer from zinc deficiency. These mental illnesses include ADHD and depression. These causes were discovered by a study or by a meta-analysis of several studies.
Zinc deficiency doesn’t work much
The multitude of symptoms already shows that it is difficult to detect a zinc deficiency. Only conversations with your doctor of trust will help here. Even with blood tests, it is not so easy and it is usually done via the exclusion principle.
Overall, the supply in Germany, Austria and Switzerland looks good. However, at-risk groups such as the elderly or vegans still have to pay close attention to their zinc balance.
One thing is clear: you should detect and discuss a zinc deficiency early on. If it occurs, something needs to be done.