Next to iron, zinc is the most abundant mineral found in the human body. This mineral is essential in cellular metabolism, immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Moreover, zinc enhances better growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. Zinc is also essential for proper functioning of the taste and smell senses.
It should be noted that strict vegetarians and vegans, alcohol drinkers, and those who avoid red meat are more prone to a zinc deficiency. Listed below are six warning signs to take note of.
Watch out for these six signs of a zinc defiency
- Your hair is thinning – If your hair is thinning, or if you have noticed more strands in your hairbrush, you may want to check your zinc levels. According to Gill Jenkins, a doctor based in London, hair loss is probably one of the major symptoms of zinc deficiency. Zinc is important in duplicating good cells and absorbing protein. These functions are needed for thick and glossy hair. Several studies found in Annals of Dermatology found that zinc affects hair loss.
- Your nails break easily and have white spots on them – One of the primary signs of zinc deficiency is having Beau’s lines, which are the white spots on the nails. Your nails may also easily break, crack, or be slow to grow.
- Your teeth are not as white – Zinc promotes healthy teeth. Therefore, low levels of zinc can cause the teeth to be easily cracked, and not be very strong. “Zinc is an essential element in the mouth and is present naturally in plaque, saliva, and enamel,” said Jenkins. Odor sensitivity, changed taste, white tongue coating, mouth ulcers, and inflamed gums are the most common signs of a zinc deficiency.
- You have mouth ulcers or canker sores – Recurrent mouth ulcers are also a sign of low zinc levels in your diet. According to a study, low zinc levels could raise the chance of having oral ulceration. Moreover, patients who had low levels of zinc in their blood stream often had recurrent ulcer attacks.
- You have skin problems – In a study, it was found that more than 50 percent of those with acne had minimal zinc levels. Jenkins also said that people with zinc deficiency generally have scabby skin with sores and marks that are slow to heal.
- You have a poor skeletal system – Your bones may not be as healthy if you lack zinc. This could be a problem in the development of bones can arise in children of vegetarians or vegans.
Preventing a zinc deficiency
In order to avoid zinc deficiency, experts recommend to eat foods rich in zinc or take zinc supplements. Zinc can be found mainly in different foods, red meat sources and non-red meat sources. Red meat sources include beef, pork, lamb, veal, and bacon. On the other hand, non-red meat sources include almonds, butter beans, chicken breast, cheddar cheese, turkey meat, and soya bean. (Related: Zinc deficiency: its actual cause and direct impact on human health.)