Could you have a zinc deficiency? The following signs of zinc deficiency are clues that you’re just not getting enough:
- Stretch marks
- Decreased immune response
- Increased susceptibility to viral infections
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Skin problems (acne, eczema, etc.)
- White spots on the nails
- Slow wound healing
- Anorexia Nervosa
When zinc deficiency occurs due to inadequate zinc-rich foods in the diet, poor absorption of zinc due to low stomach acid and other malabsorption conditions, increased bodily need for zinc, Pyrroles disorder, or the increased excretion of zinc from stress or other conditions, you'll want to know and make changes to quickly correct it.
Role Of Zinc
Zinc plays an incredibly vital role in the body as it's a mineral that is essential to over 100 enzymes in the human body. Sounds pretty important, right? It is essential for proper immune system function, the production of hemoglobin, reproduction, as well as growth and development.
Zinc has also been called a hormonal balancer because it's required to manufacture hormones as well as maintain hormonal balance. Zinc has been said to be therapeutic for PMS as well as conditions such as excess estrogen.
How To Get More In Your Diet
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 mg for males and 8mg for females, a value your healthy eating habits may not be getting close enough to.
Boost your intake with the following zinc-rich foods:
Oysters (3 ounces, raw): 14.1 mg
Beef (3 ounces): 5.6 mg
Crab (3 ounces): 3.6 mg
Pork (3 ounces): 2.7 mg
Turkey (4 ounces): 2.3 mg
Chicken (3 ounces): .9 mg
Black beans (3 ounces): .9 mg
Whole milk yogurt (4 ounces): .7 mg
Cashews (1 ounce): 1.6 mg
Milk (1 cup): 1 mg
Cheese (1 ounce): .9 mg
Almonds (1 ounce): .9 mg
It's important to note that plant-based diets are high in phytic acid, a potent zinc absorption inhibitor. Animal proteins on the other hand increase the absorption rate.
As with any supplement, it's best to know your zinc status before supplementation, to avoid doing any harm.
Chronic zinc supplementation if not warranted can also result in copper, chromium, iron, or manganese deficiency, reinforcing the importance of testing, especially when supplementing zinc for a longer period of time.
Testing For Zinc Deficiency
In my nutrition practice I use a combination of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and plasma zinc lab testing as my gold standard for detecting zinc deficiency. I also find comprehensive mineral testing to assess overall mineral balance a vital approach for optimizing your own nutrition and body chemistry.
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Are your zinc levels falling short? Please share in the comments!
Dr. Nate Moller
Great article on the importance of zinc! I always encourage patients to try to get their nutrition from eating a better diet. Love the examples on how to increase zinc naturally with food 🙂 Great idea using a hair analysis to determine zinc levels.
The last time my hair was thinning, my dr sent me to hospital to get it checked, she looked at my scalp and there wasn’t a problem, the she sent me for a zinc blood test….I hardly had any zinc in me, so the dr said to get the highest dose zinc I could find (mens dose) so I did40ml and my hair started to improve…..now it’s happened again, I’ve been on a vegetarian diet for some time plus not eating that well, and so I’m loosing more hair again, and most zinc you buy is only 15ml, it’s not enough.
Good job I just read this, it’s woken me up that I need higher dose and more meat in my diet…..
Glad you found it helpful!