As with many other vitamins and minerals, zinc plays a very important role in the human body. Zinc deficiency, also known as hypozincemia, appears when the amount of zinc does not suffice for all the bodily processes it is used in.
Why is Zinc Essential?
Unlike calcium and iron, which have specific functions, zinc is involved in a great number of metabolic processes. More precisely, this mineral is used in the production of enzymes that affect the immune system, cell reproduction, fertility, and conception. Considering these facts, zinc deficiency must not be disregarded, and it should be treated as soon as the symptoms are experienced.
Only 30% of the zinc intake is absorbed by the body and in these conditions it comes to no surprise that around 2 billion people from the developing countries have zinc deficiency. This mineral is an important factor in many of the bodily functions, and its lack can determine a wide range of signs and symptoms. Because of this fact, people are recommended to look for medical advice whenever any of these zinc deficiency symptoms are experienced. Most likely they will need to take a blood test in order to make a certain connection between the symptoms and hypozincemia.
What Are The Symptoms of a Zinc Deficiency?
Zinc deficiency is indicated by such signs as:
- hair loss
- skin lesions
- altered perception
- loss of sex drive
- delayed sexual maturation
- mild anemia
- abnormal menstrual cycle
- loss of appetite
Memory, eyesight, smell and taste are functions that require this mineral, so people with zinc deficiency may also experience loss of taste or smell, vision problems, and difficulties in memorizing things. Mild zinc deficiency may also feature symptoms that are related to the immune system. Because of this fact, the allergic sensitivity may increase. Furthermore, when this mineral is lacking from the body, blood clotting problems may appear and wound healing will certainly become difficult.
Measures to Take
Once the diagnosis has been performed and the symptoms indicate a zinc deficiency, the health care provider will recommend a treatment that depends very much on the severity of the symptoms and on the cause of the problem. Assuming that the dietary zinc intake is not sufficient, the doctor will recommend the patient to adjust the diet so that the body works properly. The recommended zinc intake is 8mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men, but the values can differ from one country to another.
A healthy diet rich in zinc should include foods such as:
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
However, zinc deficiency can also appear as a symptom of other health conditions such as sickle cell disease, acrodermatitis enteropathica, diabetes, and chronic diseases that affect the liver or the kidneys. In these cases, zinc deficiency can be relieved either by treating the main afflictions or by taking dietary supplements that are rich in zinc. The recommended dosage must be respected with strictness, as this mineral may lead to toxicity. Besides that, when in high amounts, zinc is able to suppress the absorption of elements such as iron and copper.
Reporting the zinc deficiency symptoms to a doctor is very important, as soon as they are discovered. This might be a bit difficult, as the symptoms depend on the severity of the deficiency, as well as on the age of the patient. More than that, the symptoms are so variate that a person suffering from zinc deficiency may suspect other afflictions. Only a qualified person is able to pinpoint the problem and to recommend a proper treatment that will help people to overcome zinc deficiency and its serious symptoms.