HealthZinc deficiency: Beyond weak hair and nails - a deep dive into its effects on health

Zinc deficiency: Beyond weak hair and nails - a deep dive into its effects on health

We can find zinc in egg yolks.
We can find zinc in egg yolks.
Images source: © Licensor | Photo by Cathy Scola

1:43 PM EST, January 15, 2024

Zinc is essential for human body. Its deficiency may be harmful.

Zinc is a vital trace element that influences the functioning of over 300 enzymes engaged in various metabolic processes. These involve DNA synthesis, protein production, and cell growth and division.

Zinc's antioxidant properties and their benefits

Zinc's antioxidant properties help shield cells from the harmful effects of free radicals.

The importance of zinc for body systems

Zinc is essential for the proper functioning of the immune, circulatory, skeletal, and nervous systems.

Zinc and overall health

Zinc supports skin and eye health, regulates blood pressure, accelerates wound healing, and plays a crucial role in taste and smell. It also contributes to the production and proper functioning of hormones, including insulin.

Getting zinc from your diet

Oysters are one of the richest sources of zinc (100g of oysters contain as much as 60-90mg of zinc). Additionally, zinc is found in rice, cereals and seeds, mushrooms, liver, egg yolks, cashew nuts, rennet cheeses, linseed oil, and cocoa.

Recommended zinc intake

The recommended daily dosage of zinc varies by age and gender:

  • Infants: 2 mg
  • Children from 1 to 9 years old: 3-5 mg
  • Girls aged 10 to 18: 8-9 mg
  • Boys aged 10 to 18: 8-11 mg
  • Women: 8 mg
  • Men: 11 mg
  • Pregnant women: 11-12 mg
  • Breastfeeding women: 12-13 mg

Recognizing zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency can cause a variety of health problems, and symptoms can vary depending on the degree of deficiency.

The most common symptoms of zinc deficiency include a weakened immune system, skin issues such as psoriasis, slow wound healing, loss of taste and smell, vision problems, developmental delays in children, hair loss, brittle nails, and lack of appetite. Zinc deficiency often goes hand in hand with deficiencies of other trace elements like copper and iron.

Effects of excessive zinc

Although zinc is essential for health, too much can be detrimental. Excess zinc (usually from overconsumption of supplements) can lead to abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, headaches, lethargy, and a metallic taste in the mouth. In extreme cases, it can cause hallucinations, anemia, and a severe decrease in immunity.

Careful monitoring by a healthcare provider is always advisable when it comes to zinc supplementation.

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