Blog about zinc deficiency

Zinc Deficiency – The signs and Solutions

Along with magnesium Zinc is probably the mineral that I find most commonly deficient in Clients.  Most people I see have suboptimal levels.

What are the benefits of zinc?

  • Zinc is very important for our hormones
  • 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 essential for fertility

Signs of zinc deficiency:

  • Hormone Imbalance
  • Thyroid disease
  • Poor sense of taste and smell
  • Reflux
  • Feeling of food sitting in the stomach
  • Bleeding gums and gingivitis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor growth and fussiness in Children
  • Hair Loss
  • White spots on the nails
  • In men – infertility and prostate enlargement
  • Night blindness
  • Acne
  • Poor wound healing
  • Poor immunity
  • Increased body odor

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. 

Zinc in Food

Most of us are not getting enough zinc in our diets in the amount we require.  Zinc requirements do 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. 

It is best to supplement if you are meat free.  You can also consider soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains, nuts and seeds to reduce phytate levels.  Cooking vegetables can help as well especially if you are having gut issues like reflux.

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.  If you lose your sense of taste and smell after a virus that is a good indication you need to up your zinc levels.

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.  If you are already deficient then a Zinc supplement is indicated.

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.  If you are very low when you start supplementing zinc it can make you nauseas so some people need to start low and slow and take with food.

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


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Can you get too much zinc?

Yes you do need to be aware and consider that 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 Nutritionist like myself if you are concerned or have quite sever symptoms.  

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 as mentioned above.

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.  It is also worth considering that minerals are not always free in the blood but store in organs, tissues, bones etc so blood tests are not always accurate.  There are some other blood tests that can point to zinc deficiency but I do a lot of questioning so can get a fairly accurate picture from symptoms. 

In clinic I also offer Hair Mineral Analysis (HTMA testing)which gives you a very comprehensive look at all of your minerals, their ratios and also heavy metals that maybe present in your body.  Heavy metals displace zinc so it is great to see the full picture.  If you want to book a free call to ask any questions you can book here or feel free to send me a message. 

Julie McGill

Julie McGill

Holistic Nutritionist, Mother to 4 young Humans.
Women's Health advocate.

Meet Julie a Nutritionist at Nurture Nutrition
Hi, I'm Julie

I help Women get to the root cause of their hormonal issues so they can have more energy and  thrive.  Helping you be the best version of yourself is my passion.

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