Along with magnesium Zinc is probably the mineral that I find most commonly deficient in Clients.  Severe zinc deficiency is rare but marginal zinc deficiency is very common.

What are the benefits of zinc?

  • Zinc strengthens the immune system
  • Zinc fights inflammation
  • Zinc promotes wound healing
  • Zinc is important for skin health and aging
  • Zinc is really important for adequate stomach acid
  • Zinc helps keep your metabolism healthy
  • Zinc can help improve your sense of taste and smell
  • Zinc helps balance thyroid function
  • Zinc is important for hormone balance
  • Zinc is essential for fertility

Signs of zinc deficiency:

  • Bleeding gums and gingivitis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor growth and fussiness in Children
  • Hair Loss
  • White spots on the nails
  • Poor sense of smell and taste
  • Symptoms of low stomach acid
  • In men – infertility and prostate enlargement
  • Night blindness
  • Acne
  • Poor wound healing
  • Poor immunity
  • Thyroid disease
  • Increased body odor
  • Hormonal imbalance

Who is most at risk of deficiency?

Pregnant Women and the Elderly are particularly susceptible to zinc deficiency.  Teenage boys tend to be another at risk group especially around age 13-14 which is the peak time of acne.  Zinc deficiency in pregnant Women is very common and statistics suggest 82% of  pregnant Women are considered zinc deficient.  This is due to the fact that they require almost triple the amount of the daily recommended amount of zinc for fetal growth.  Most of us are not getting enough zinc in our diets anyway, and the amount we require does not decrease as we age.  Vegetarians and Vegans are also at risk of deficiency as animal foods contain the highest levels of zinc.  Even if Vegetarians and Vegans increase their zinc rich plant based foods these foods are less bioavailable as they contain phytates which may bind to zinc and inhibit absorption.  If you are relying on plant based foods for nutrients you need to consider soaking, sprouting and fermenting to reduce phytate levels.

If you have recently been unwell you are also at risk of zinc deficiency and when your health is not optimal your body becomes depleted easily.

How much zinc do you need?

All RDA’s differ but a general amount to prevent deficiency is – 8mg Women, 11mg Men, 3-5 mg Children, 25 mg Pregnant Women

We should be aiming to get this from our diets.  If this is not possible a supplement is required.  Zinc supplements are generally at a maintenance dose at health stores, or at a higher dose (which is needed for anyone at risk of or with a deficiency) via Practitioners like myself.

Zinc rich foods include – Meats, Seafood, Poultry, Dairy products, Whole grains and Nuts.

Can you get too much zinc?

Yes you do need to be cautious.  Minerals work in balance with one another.  Too much zinc could lead to imbalance in other minerals.  It is unlikely to occur from food, but be aware with supplements.  It is always best to work under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner like myself.  If you experience Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach pain, Fatigue or Lethargy when supplementing you should back off and consult a health professional.  If you experience slight nausea make sure you are taking it with a meal.

How do you know if you are low in zinc?  Zinc is not routinely tested by GP’s in New Zealand and Australia.  You need to request the test from your doctor or lab, and in some cases you maybe asked to pay for it yourself.  I also offer Hair Mineral Analysis which gives you a very comprehensive look at all of your minerals, their ratios and also heavy metals that maybe present in your body.

Some References: