6 Signs of a Zinc Deficiency and How to Balance it Out

Proper growth of the body, intracellular metabolism and the creation of DNA are just some of the processes for which zinc is essential, so it's no wonder that a zinc deficiency can cause impaired functioning of the body's entire system. This mineral deficiency is more common in people over the age of 60 and in people whose diets are vegan or vegetarian. What these two groups have in common is the fact that they consume a diet rich in legumes and grains that do not contain enough zinc. In fact, the foods they consume have ingredients that prevent zinc from being absorbed by the body.


So, how do you know if you have a zinc deficiency? Regular medical tests don’t always show if there is a deficiency in this mineral, but there are some signs that may indicate a lack of it in the body. The good news is that you can increase the level of zinc in your body quite easily -  you just need to know which foods are rich in this mineral.


6 signs of zinc deficiency

1. Frequent infections and diseases

Zinc plays a central role in the proper functioning of the immune system and prevention of infections. When you don't consume enough zinc, your immune system may function poorly and won’t be able to ward off viral and bacterial infections. Also, if you feel that you’ve been in a lot of pain recently, you may not be consuming enough zinc. 

2. Abnormal hair loss

It’s natural to lose a few hairs while brushing it, but if you notice that the amount of hair left behind on your brush has increased significantly, it could be due to a lack of zinc. It's worth noting that only a significant zinc deficiency can cause huge hair loss and breakage, but you should keep an eye on the problem nevertheless.


3. Chronic diseases

Neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes are just some of the diseases researchers have found to be related to a zinc deficiency. This deficiency causes increased oxidation processes in the body, leading to inflammation, cell death, and an increased risk of chronic disease. A balanced diet that includes foods with high concentrations of zinc can delay the formation of chronic diseases.

4. Decline in hearing

Researchers have found that people with hearing loss might also have a zinc deficiency. The researchers believe that this is due to inflammation and decreased pressure in the inner ear as a result of zinc deficiency. If you feel that your hearing is not what it used to be, you body may be lacking zinc.


5. Decrease in growth rate

Children with a zinc deficiency may experience a decrease in growth rate. Due to the role of zinc in the normal development of cells and body growth, a lack of it causes problems with physical growth, meaning that children who do not consume enough of this essential mineral are shorter than average for their age. If you notice a low growth rate in your children, incorporate zinc-rich foods in their diet. If there is no change in their growth rate, it's recommended that you take them to get their zinc levels tested. 


6. The taste of the food has changed

Other senses besides the sense of hearing that may be damaged due to zinc deficiency are sense of taste and sense of smell. If you feel that foods have a different taste suddenly, this may be indicative of a zinc deficiency. This is especially true for people over the age of 60, as zinc deficiency is more common in this age group, and other factors, such as increased drug use, may exacerbate the ability to taste and smell.


So how can you consume more zinc?

The good news is that zinc deficiency can be easily corrected by adding foods rich in this mineral to your daily diet. It's important to eat these foods every day since the body doesn’t store zinc and only daily consumption will result in constant adequate zinc levels in the body. Women should consume about 8 mg of zinc a day, men about 11 mg daily, and people with different diseases or significant zinc deficiency will need larger amounts depending on their health.

People who are vegan or vegetarian should sometimes consume twice as much as the recommended daily amount, as their bodies absorb zinc less efficiently and some vegetables can even interfere with zinc absorption in the body. If you feel that you’ve been sicker lately or have some of the symptoms mentioned above, you should prepare zinc-rich dishes so that you can enjoy healthier hair, get sick less, and getting back the taste for life, literally. However, be careful not to consume too much zinc, as in excess it can cause headaches, nausea, and anemia.

8 Recommended zinc-rich foods

* The amounts of zinc given are per serving size of 100 grams.

 1. Beef

Beef is full of flavor and nutritional benefits, which include, apart from a high zinc content (7 mg per serving), large amounts of protein and vitamin B12. Despite these benefits, it's recommended not to overeat meat because it also contains large amounts of fat. It's best to eat beef once or twice a week and to incorporate other zinc-rich foods into your diet the rest of the week.

2. Toasted wheat germ

A dose of toasted wheat germ will provide you with 16.7 mg of zinc and enrich your daily diet. You can eat wheat germ in its natural form, without toasting, and enjoy its nutritional benefits, which include aiding in digestion and delaying the narrowing of central blood vessels in the body.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are known as a great healthy snack for after a meal, but you can also add them to salads or shakes to increase your daily zinc intake. A dose of pumpkin seeds contains about 10.3 milligrams of zinc and serves as a healthy, tasty and balanced snack.


4. Red beans

Red beans are low in calories but rich in zinc, about 2.79 mg per serving, and can be eaten when cooked and seasoned as a standalone meal or as a side to a variety of foods.

5. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are low in calories, contain 7.66 mg of zinc, and many vitamins and minerals. In addition, its high antioxidant content is similar to that of carrots or tomatoes, and selenium chlorine, which is a mineral not usually found in plant sources, can also be obtained from their eating them.

6. Egg yolks

For those who’ve given up this part of the egg, you should put it back on the menu. Egg whites are not as rich in zinc as yolks, so you should eat the egg in its entirety if you want to increase your intake of this essential mineral. A serving of egg contains 4.93 g of zinc in addition to vitamins A, E, D and K.


7. Cocoa and chocolate

Cocoa and chocolate products will delight anyone who has a sweet tooth, and if you eat them moderately they will do wonders for your body. A serving of chocolate (dark chocolate is preferred) contains 9.6 mg of zinc so you can refill your zinc levels with a smile. Click here to learn more about chocolate.

8. Turkey breast

Roasted turkey breast is tasty, rich in protein and zinc and low in calories when compared to other types of meat, such as beef. A dose of turkey breast will supply your body with about 3.09 milligrams of zinc. 

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