Symptoms of a Zinc Deficiency

Dr. Berg Zinc is an essential nutrient, meaning that it is not organically manufactured within the body and therefore needs to be consumed in the form of food or supplemental sources. The recommended daily intake of zinc is between 10-30 mg per day, though this is variable depending on age and health condition. This may seem like a modest amount, however given the mineral-deficient state of modern food sources and rampant problems with gastrointestinal function in the United States, you may be surprised at just how difficult accumulating this small quantity can be. Zinc is most commonly found in seafood, but is also present in eggs, certain meats, and nuts. Some breakfast cereals and processed grains will also claim to be fortified with 25% of the daily value of zinc in a serving. This is a somewhat comical assertion however, as commercial cereals are rich in phytates (the very irritating substance found in unsoaked/sprouted grains and nuts), which significantly reduce the absorption of zinc, and can even contribute to zinc deficiency. Therefore, those individuals who are vegetarians or who consume a low animal product, highly-refined carbohydrate diet are at a particular risk for zinc deficiency regardless of food fortification. The bioavailability of zinc from plant sources can be increased by personally preparing foods using the techniques of soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains and seeds, however supplementation may still be required for adequate maintenance levels. Nourishing Traditions is a valuable resource for learning more about these food preparation techniques. Are you Zinc Deficient? A simple DIY test | The Radiant Life Blog Zinc Deficiency While overt zinc deficiency is believed to be uncommon in North America, there is a significant risk for zinc inadequacy. Individuals with increased risk for insufficient levels of zinc include those experiencing gastrointestinal disorders, malignancies or other chronic illnesses, alcoholics, vegetarians, and pregnant or lactating women. Such circumstances cause biochemical changes in the body which result in poor absorption, expedited losses or increased zinc requirement. Zinc also competes for absorption with copper, iron, calcium and magnesium within the body. Because these minerals work in very specific ratios, over-supplementation with other isolated minerals (in the form of tablets or food fortification) can also significantly block the absorption of zinc. This has become a notable problem with iron, as large-dose supplementation and fortification has become a popular treatment effecting millions of people with iron-deficiency anemia. Finding a balanced whole foods source of iron, or taking supplemental iron between meals, are helpful ways of reassuring zinc availability remains adequate as well. Because of zinc’s diverse roles in the body, symptoms of deficiency can be somewhat non-specific and generalized, thus making it easily confused with other signs of illness or nutrient inadequacy. However, if you are currently being treated for any of the following symptoms, zinc may be an appropriate adjunct therapy to discuss with your provider. Delayed wound healing Taste & smell disorders Impaired growth & sexual development Hyperactivity Impaired Adrenal Function (including stress, anxiety) Skin disorders Irritable Bowel Syndrome Vision Degeneration Iron non-responsive anemia Pica (eating dirt) Eating disorders (such as anorexia, bulimia)

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