We are often clouded by several questions regarding our health. How to be healthy? What are the nutrients and how often these nutrients are required? What are the benefits and side effects of these nutrients? All these questioned must be answered to understand the building blocks of healthy life. Like other nutrients, Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is responsible for the growth and development of children and boosting of immunity.
What is Zinc Deficiency?
The deficiency of zinc in the human body may be caused by several factors. Some of the factors include prolonged deprivation of zinc-rich diet, malabsorption due to existing digestive disorders, and health conditions like acrodermatitis enteropathica. Long-term zinc deficiency may be deadly.
Although zinc is a trace mineral its contribution to the human body is incredible. It is responsible for the growth and development of the child, sexual development, and maturation in adolescents. In case of severe deficiency, it may lead to mental retardation, impotency, and hypogonadism.
The condition of zinc deficiency can be developed due to various factors. Some of the major factors have been illustrated below:
- Zinc Deficient Diet: The most common cause of zinc deficiency is the consumption of a zinc deficit diet. It can either the unavailability or inaccessibility of zinc-rich food items. Sometimes these food items are not available to the lower-income group due to their tight pocket.
- Nutrient Deficient Soil: The concentration of nutrients in the food items depends upon the nutrient concentration of the corresponding soil on which it has been cultivated. In some parts of the globe, soils are found to be poor in zinc which results in a low concentration of zinc in food products.
- GI Disorders: Malabsorption is the second most prevalent cause of zinc deficiency. Improper digestion disrupts the zinc cycle and leads to low zinc content in the body. It may be caused by prolonged gastrointestinal disorders.
- Enhanced Requirement: When there is an imbalance between the supply and demand of zinc in the body it may either increase or decrease the zinc content. Pregnant women and children of adolescent age need a higher amount of zinc for the optimum development of unborn child and children.
Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
The common symptoms of Zinc deficiency include:
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Unexpected weight loss
- Delayed sexual maturity
- Mental retardation
- Impaired growth and development
- Impaired immunity
Health Risks due to Low Zinc Level
- Delayed Growth & Development: Low zinc level effects have very detrimental effects on human health especially in children. It causes impaired physical, mental growth, and development. It may also cause delayed sexual development and maturation and in severe case impotency
- Impaired Immunity: Zinc deficiency is known to compromise the human defense system. IT results in frequent viral and bacterial infections as well as increases the normal recovery period for several diseases for example cough and cold.
- Age-Related Muscular Degeneration: Prolonged low concentration of zinc may lead to muscular degeneration. It may cause age-related eye disorders due to cellular damage in the retina.
Some other health risks associated with Zinc deficiencies are impaired wound healing, the imbalance between iron and zinc and copper.
Tests for Zinc Deficiency
Zinc is present in traces in our cells and tissues. It is very difficult to detect zinc through a normal blood test. Several tests like blood, urine, and hair tests are used to identify the concentration of zinc in the human body.
- Zinc Blood Test: Owing to the availability of zinc in our body normal blood tests may be insufficient. The doctor may advise plasma-based analysis of zinc in our body. This test is the most accurate test for zinc.
- Urine Test: In addition to blood tests urine tests are also used to decipher zinc deficiency however it is not as accurate as a plasma-based blood test.
If you have health conditions that may cause deficiency, doctors advise these tests for the confirmation of zinc inadequacy.
Remedies of Zinc Deficiency
- Zinc Supplements: In case of severe deficiency doctor may prescribe medical supplements however they should be consumed in a controlled manner as high doses of zinc may lead to other health risks.
- Zinc Rich Diet: The best solution to this deficiency is zinc-rich food items. Some of the Zinc-rich food items are whole grain, oyster, crab, red meat, poultry, nuts, and chickpeas.
- Fortified Food Items: Several food items have a very low concentration of zinc in this circumstance we need to adopt the fortification process of food items to rich our daily requirements of zinc through the diet.
- Quit Alcoholism: Prolonged alcoholism is the major cause of GI disorders, which translates into the inefficacy of zinc absorption in the body.
Prevention of Zinc Deficiency
It is often said that “Prevention is better than Cure” and indeed this is very much true about mineral deficiencies. Zinc deficiency can be prevented through the consumption of Zinc rich diet.
- whole grain
- Red meat
- Fortified food items
Adequate Intake (>19 yrs.):
The ideal way to prevent zinc deficiencies is to a main balanced and healthy diet. The daily intake of zinc varies with age however, the recommended daily intake of Zinc for an adult is 8-11 mg.
The above texts elaborate on the importance of zinc and associated health risks. It is vital for the growth and development either mental or physical. Zinc boosts our immunity and protects us from several infections and diseases.
Although Zinc deficiency has several ill effects, it can be treated with the appropriate consultation and supplements as prescribed by medical experts. The best possible way to avoid these circumstances by consuming an adequate amount of zinc as per RDA through various Zinc-rich diets.