The Dangers of Zinc Deficiency (And How to Avoid It)
An epidemic that you may have not even heard of is zinc deficiency that is spreading globally, including the United States. The World Health Organization states that about 31% of the global population suffers from a deficiency of the essential mineral and vitamin zinc.
The dangers and symptoms of zinc deficiency
Dr. Josh Axe names 7 major health dangers that can happen if you consume not enough supplements or meals with zinc vitamin:
One of the essential zinc benefits is that it can provide the support of the normal immunity function, result T-cell growth, and apoptosis (the programmed cell death) for killing dangerous bacteria. Having zinc deficiency can decrease the natural mechanisms of the immune system and make you more prone to different disease. If you have flu symptoms, consider taking more zinc for cold’s symptoms.
Disturbed neurological function
According to a recent Chinese study posted in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, receiving enough zinc per day can benefit attention and focus. If you feel that your focus is low, consider taking more foods with zinc.
Zinc is a key factor responsible for the storage of histamine. Receiving less zinc than required may lead to the excess production of histamine. The “overdose” of histamine in the blood can cause the “fake” allergy symptoms like sneezing, hives, or running nose or cause the new allergies that a person has never had. Also, high histamine levels can increase the symptoms of already existing allergies.
Due to the weak immunity, some people can get the infectious and persistent diarrhea because of zinc deficiency.
Thin and weak hair
One of the most common complaints from people with zinc deficiency is thinning hair. This is a symptom of a more serious disorder – hypothyroidism, that can get worse of the low zinc levels.
Acne breakouts or skin rashes
Some people may develop the skin rash and acne because of receiving not enough of zinc.
The “leaky gut” condition
This condition caused by zinc deficiency may lead to the nutrient malabsorption, allergies, skin disorders, auto-immune diseases, and severe thyroid problems. Getting enough zinc per day can “tighten” the leaky gut in people with Crohn’s disorder.
The risk groups for getting zinc deficiency
According to the WebMD team, there are certain groups of people who are more prone to getting the zinc deficiency symptoms:
- People suffering from such conditions as alcoholism or the long-term history of its abuse, diabetes with the low blood sugar symptom, hemodialysis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), any nutrient absorption syndromes, and rheumatoid arthritis;
- Premature or underweight infants;
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women;
- Malnourished people, including the patients with bulimia and anorexia;
- Patients with the intravenous feeding;
- People who suffer from the severe or persistent diarrhea;
- Patients with the inflammatory bowel disease;
- Individuals with sickle cell anemia;
- People with chronic renal disease;
- The elderly over 65 years;
- People who regularly take certain meds like Tetracycline, Quinolone, or any Bisphosphonates because they may reduce zinc absorption and decrease the drug’s efficacy;
- Strict vegetarians whose major food sources are legumes and grains because the high levels of phytic acid in these foods can slow down the absorption of zinc.
The recommended daily zinc dosage
The U.S. National Academies Press (NAP) has recently published the statics related to the daily dose of zinc tablets or foods. According to the NAP experts, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc for the different groups of people looks like this:
- Infants from 0 to 6 months – 2 milligrams (mg) for males and females;
- Infants from 7 to 12 months – 3 mg for males and females;
- Toddlers from 1 to 3 years – 3mg for males and females;
- Zinc for kids from 4 to 8 years – 5 mg for both genders;
- Children from 9 to 13 years – 8 mg for both genders;
- Teenagers from 14 to 18 years – 11 mg for males and 9 mg for females;
- Adults over 19 years – 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females;
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are over 18 years need to take 11-13 mg of zinc per day.
The deficiency treatment with zinc pills
In order to treat a zinc deficiency, you may eat more zinc foods or take zinc supplements daily. The experts from WebMD recommend taking 30 mg of zinc daily, during 3 months in a row. Also, you need to take copper supplements along with zinc pills during these 3 months. The reason is that the prolong taking of zinc can reduce the copper levels in your body.
Top 10 food sources of zinc
A recent research made by the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) claims that only certain foods can serve as the best zinc sources. These foods are to be included into your daily ration if you want to get enough zinc:
- Cashews –3.8 mg or 1/2 cup – 25% of the daily value (DV);
- Grass-fed beef – 5.2 mg or 4 oz – 32% DV;
- Pumpkin seeds – 4 mg or 1/2 cup – 57% DV;
- Mushrooms – 9 mg or 1 cooked cup – 13% DV;
- Chickpeas (also called as Garbanzo beans) – 5 mg or 1 cooked cup – 17% DV;
- Lamb -2 mg or 4 oz – 32% DV;
- Chicken – 1.6 mg or 4 oz – 12% DV;
- Spinach – 4 mg or 1 cooked cup – 9% DV;
- Plain yogurt or kefir – 1.4 mg or 1 cup – 10% DV;
- Cocoa powder – 4 mg or 1 tablespoon – 2% DV.
Taking too much zinc: side effects and precautions
Consuming not enough zinc is bad for your health. Taking too much zinc can be also not very good for the common health, especially if you overdose for the extended periods of time. Taking more than the RDA of zinc (more than 100 mg according to many health sources) during a few month can lead to such conditions:
- Moderate stomach pain;
- Prostate cancer – if you take more than 100mg of zinc daily for 10 years or longer.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women may consider cutting their daily dose of zinc to 35 mg per day.
If you have any of the above-described symptoms, even if you are sure that you get the proper dose of the best zinc supplement, consider consulting a doctor.