Zinc is an important mineral that we need for so many purposes.

For example, zinc helps with wound healing. If you were or another type of severe wound, it’s possible the hospital would give you a zinc supplement to speed-up your healing.

Zinc plays a role in cell division, and it’s needed for more than 300 enzymes in your body that control your digestion, metabolism, and nerve function along with a host of other processes. Zinc is required for protein production, DNA synthesis, and the functionality of your immune cells.

After iron, zinc is the second-most abundant trace mineral found in your body, and it’s in every cell.

Increasingly, people are deficient in zinc, however. That can lead to serious health problems.



The following are some of the main things to know about zinc, including symptoms of a potential deficiency.

Are You Zinc-Deficient?

How Do You Get Zinc?

Zinc not only helps your body heal from burns and wounds, but it also helps your immune system fight off infections. It’s used in hospitals to help people with coronavirus as well, right now.

Typically, zinc should come from your diet because your body doesn’t make it. Foods with a lot of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, seeds, and wild rice.

For vegetarians, it can be challenging to get enough zinc from your diet, so you may need a supplement. There are also foods like cashews, peas, and almonds that have zinc.

Along with not eating enough zinc in your diet, there are certain health conditions that may make you more likely to have a deficiency.

For example, some people have chronic health conditions that interfere with their body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients. Crohn’s, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis are three examples.

Other conditions that may up the likelihood of becoming zinc-deficient are alcohol abuse, cancer, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes.

As you age, you may have a higher chance of being zinc deficient because you may not eat a varied diet, or you might take certain medicines that interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and release zinc.

Are You Zinc-Deficient?

What Are the Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?

If you have a zinc deficiency, symptoms can include:

  • Impaired growth and development in children
  • Delayed sexual maturity in children
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Rashes
  • Decreased immunity
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Dry skin
  • Fertility problems

If you believe you have a zinc deficiency, you should speak with your doctor. It’s difficult to diagnose this condition because your body doesn’t store zinc. Your doctor might instead focus on your diet and health history when making a diagnosis.



How is Zinc Deficiency Treated?

If you have an absorption problem or can’t treat your zinc deficiency through diet alone, your doctor might recommend a supplement.

There are different kinds of zinc supplements based on how much elemental zinc they contain. There are zinc sulfate, zinc acetate, and zinc gluconate.

Before taking zinc, you should speak with your doctor because these supplements can interact with certain medications including medicine for arthritis and some antibiotics.

You can also get too much zinc if you overdo it on supplements. Symptoms of having too much zinc include nausea and vomiting.

You should take no more than 40 mg of zinc a day.

Are You Zinc-Deficient?

Benefits of Improving Your Zinc Levels

If you do boost your zinc levels through diet or supplementation, you may notice health benefits.

For example, a zinc supplement can help your immune system stay strong. Often people who take a zinc supplement following a deficiency say they get sick less often.

Zinc supplements can stimulate certain immune cells, and they also reduce oxidative stress in the body.

If you do get sick with something like the common cold, taking a zinc supplement can reduce the severity and longevity of the illness.


Are you getting enough zinc in your diet?

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