About 31% of people from various regions around the world are at risk of zinc deficiency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the top ten main risk factors for diseases in developing nations is zinc deficiency, so it’s important to prevent it from occurring.

What is zinc deficiency?

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps the body function properly. The immune system wound healing and typical growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence all depend on zinc. Zinc is found in many foods, but most people get enough zinc if they eat a balanced diet. Some people may need to take supplements to get the recommended amount of zinc.

What causes zinc deficiency?

Some individuals struggle to consume enough zinc each day. People on long-term restricted diets, vegetarians, and vegans may be at higher risk since protein aids in the body’s absorption of zinc. Babies who are exclusively breastfed for more than six months and children on restricted diets may also suffer from a zinc shortage.

People who have trouble absorbing minerals, such as the elderly and those with certain digestive illnesses, might develop zinc insufficiency. Additionally, several medications might enhance zinc loss through urine.

If a baby is premature, seriously ill, or if their mother has a slight zinc insufficiency, a newborn baby may occasionally have a zinc scarcity. Some people are born deficient in zinc.

What are the symptoms of zinc deficiency?

Signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency vary depending on the part of the body where the deficiency is happening, but some common symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Eye problems
  • Hair loss
  • Poor wound healing
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased senses of taste and smell

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting tested for zinc deficiency.

How is zinc deficiency treated?

A supplement, usually in the form of a pill or capsule, can be used to get more zinc. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will advise you on the appropriate dosage. Some multivitamin pills and zinc-containing cold treatments are additional sources of zinc.

What can you eat to improve your zinc deficiency?

Zinc is an essential mineral that is necessary for the body. It can be found in many foods, such as:

  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables (Potatoes, green beans, kale)
  • Dark chocolate

How long does it take to get rid of zinc deficiency?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc should be increased by two to three times for mild zinc deficiency and four to five times for moderate to severe zinc deficiency. Six months should pass after treatment.

How many deaths does zinc deficiency cause in sub-Saharan Africa?

One of the biggest threats to human health in sub-Saharan Africa is zinc deficiency. It was ranked ninth among the top 20 risk factors for fatalities in the area. According to the WHO, zinc deficiency is responsible for 249,000 fatalities, or 2.2% of all deaths, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why do people living in the Middle East struggle with zinc deficiency?

People living in the Middle East often struggle with zinc deficiency due to a lack of access to fresh food sources. This is because their diet consists largely of bread, rice, and other foods that are low in zinc.

Why does zinc deficiency cause a delay in sexual maturation?

Zinc is important for sexual development in both boys and girls. It helps to develop the male and female reproductive systems. It also helps to produce testosterone and prolactin. If a person doesn’t have enough zinc, their body won’t be able to produce these hormones. This can lead to a delay in sexual maturation.

Why are chronic alcoholics at risk for zinc deficiency?

Chronic alcoholics are at risk for zinc deficiency because of their high intake of alcohol. Zinc is important for the body because it helps to keep muscles and nerves healthy. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and protect the heart from damage. Unfortunately, chronic alcoholics tend to lose zinc due to liver disease, diarrhea, and vomiting. In conclusion, current studies have shown that prolonged alcohol consumption causes ileal oxidative stress, which causes zinc insufficiency by releasing intracellular zinc.

If you are a chronic alcoholic and you are worried about your zinc levels, talk to your doctor about supplements.