Zinc deficiency


Zinc is one of the Trace elements. These are Minerals, the essential for humans are. They are not made by the body and have to for this reason can be supplied through food. Trace elements such as zinc are only required in low concentrations (in “traces”), but they perform important tasks in the organism. A Lack of zinc or an impaired absorption of zinc can lead to a variety of deficiency symptoms. A balanced diet should therefore include sources containing zinc in order to prevent the consequences of zinc deficiency.

What is zinc needed for in the human body?

Zinc is called Trace element because humans only have a low concentration of it healthy adults about 7 to 15 mg a daymust record.

Zinc fulfills many important functions in the human metabolism. It is on one Involved in a multitude of metabolic processes and therefore indispensable for human health. Since zinc cannot be produced by the body itself and is eliminated through the digestive system, it must be taken in with food. Zinc is a so-called Coenzyme and can be seen as "helpers" for the enzymes in the body.

Zinc fulfills important tasks in the nutrient metabolism, including the Protein-, of the Fat- and the Carbohydrate metabolism but also the Detoxification and the breakdown of alcohol. It also plays in the Insulin metabolism an important role. In addition, zinc is on the Synthesis of sex and thyroid hormones involved. It is important for the health of the Immune system or for the immune system of humans and also promotes Wound healing. As well protects Zinc the body cells against damage from alcohol, cigarette smoke or UV radiation. The trace element is also important for Health of bones, hair, skin, nails and the human Eyesight, as well as for other sense organs.

Causes of Zinc Deficiency

A zinc deficiency has various causes: On the one hand, a zinc deficiency can occur when too little zinc ingested through food becomes. Here it comes to one chronic zinc deficiency. This is created by a permanently unbalanced diet. Chronic zinc deficiency can also occur, though zinc from the food ingested cannot be recovered, for example at one Cirrhosis of the liver.

In rare cases zinc deficiency can also innate be. A Defect of the genetic information leads to the fact that zinc cannot be absorbed into the organism. This disease is known as Enteropathic acrodermatitis and will mostly detected in the early months of life.

A Zinc deficiency can also acute in the context of Infections, Inflammation and Stressful situations occur. Most of them are clinical symptoms here less pronounced and temporary, in contrast to the chronic zinc deficiency.

How can you recognize a zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency calls you Variety of symptoms out that initially very unspecific and can often be explained by other causes. Since zinc is involved in many different processes in the organism besides physical symptoms even mental and psychological symptoms occur. A zinc deficiency can only be diagnosed to a limited extent by blood tests, which is why im Doctor-patient conversation a detailed investigation of all physical and mental symptoms should be done and taken seriously.

General symptoms

Zinc deficiency can be reflected in a wide variety of symptoms. This includes physical and psychological abnormalities.

The following symptoms, among other things, can be derived from the large number of metabolic processes in which zinc is involved: Zinc deficiency calls in weakened immune system emerge, thereby increasing flu-like infections, Sore throat and runny nose or Cold sore may occur. In addition, a leading symptom of zinc deficiency is one Wound healing disorder.

Kick it Skin manifestations how dryness, Dandruff, acne, Skin fungus, Redness and Pustules on. Since zinc is important for the health of hair it can too Hair loss and brittle hair come. The same applies to a zinc deficiency Nails affected that easily splinter and break.

Zinc deficiency calls hormonal disorders before and can refer to the libido, the power and the fertility impact.

It can also be used for Disturbance of sensory perception come especially to Visual disturbances but also to Taste and Odor disorders.

At Children and adolescents with chronic zinc deficiency can Stunted growth occur.

Besides all of the physical symptoms you can also mental-mental symptoms occur. That includes fatigue, one lower efficiency, Difficulty concentrating and Listlessness. Many patients complain Mood swings up to depressive moods and chronic fatigue.

Hair loss

In addition to brittle and splintered hair, a chronic zinc deficiency can also lead to hair loss. The trace element is involved in the formation of keratin, the most important component of nails, skin and hair. A zinc deficiency leads to a disruption of the hair structure and the anchoring of the hair in the scalp. In addition, there can be mild to severe hair loss.

Read more on this topic: Hair loss therapy

Hair loss is when more than 100 hairs are lost every day over a longer period of time. Hair can fall out diffusely over the head, as often occurs when there is a lack of nutrients. In the case of zinc deficiency, however, circular hair loss can also occur Alopecia areata, detected.

Zinc protects against inflammation that can damage the hair roots and lead to hair loss. In addition, zinc also has an influence on hormonal processes and prevents the excessive conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, which plays a role in genetic hair loss.

If hair loss occurs along with other physical and mental symptoms, a zinc deficiency should be considered as a possible cause. However, there are numerous other causes of hair loss, such as a lack of other nutrients, stress and a genetic predisposition.

You might also be interested in this topic: Folic acid

Symptoms around the eyes

Zinc deficiency can lead to disorders of sensory functions, for example to Change in eyesight. The trace element itself is increasingly found in the Retina before and is especially for that Seeing at dusk and at night significant. Zinc is for that Metabolism of Vitamin A, which plays an important role in the visual process, is indispensable. Zinc also protects the sensitive cells of the retina from damage caused by toxic substances, cell stress or UV light.

A zinc deficiency calls Difficulty seeing in twilight up to Night blindness emerged. In addition to visual disturbances, it also often occurs Dry eyes.

Increased inflammation on the eye are expressions of weakened immune system with zinc deficiency. A balanced nutrition, in which sufficient amounts of zinc are supplied to the body, can therefore support the health of the eyes and protect against visual disturbances due to zinc deficiency. In addition to the sense of sight, other sensory organs, such as the sense of smell or taste, can also be disturbed.

Symptoms on the skin

Zinc deficiency can be associated with numerous symptoms on the skin. One is noticeable decreased wound healing, because zinc plays an important role in Cornification process the skin and the Production of connective tissue.

A chronic zinc deficiency can also lead to other skin abnormalities and diseases. This includes, for example acne. Acne is characterized by the blockage and inflammation of sebum glands in the skin.

In addition, zinc is important for the regular flow of the Fat metabolism of the skin. A disorder can get through dry skin with increased Impurities or formation of Dandruff express. Torn corners of the mouth can also be attributed to a zinc deficiency as well as bacterial or viral infections such as cold sores or genital herpes.

Zinc is an important component in the Synthesis of collagen not only important for healthy skin, but also for healthy scalp, hair and nails. In the inborn genetic zinc deficiency disease, of the Enteropathic dermatitis, to step symptoms even in infancy, for example crusty-blistered skin appearances.

Acne / pimples

acne is one of the most common skin symptoms with a zinc deficiency. Acne is characterized by clogged sebum glands which can become infected and leave ulcers and scars on the skin. Above all are affected face, Shoulders, move and chest.

In addition to genetic predisposition, above all the Hormonal location is crucial for the development of acne. This explains the occurrence during puberty, a time of hormonal changes and an imbalance in the system. zinc plays an important role in hormonal balance and slows down the formation of dihydrotestosteronewhich is a major cause of acne development.

If there is a zinc deficiency, mild forms of acne can be improved by adding zinc. In addition, the acne pustules are treated locally with ointments. There are also other therapeutic measures like the gift of Antibiotics or Contraceptives in more severe cases. Correcting a zinc deficiency generally improves the complexion and can help prevent pimples.

Psyche / depression

A deficiency in the trace element zinc can also affect the mental health and psyche of the person concerned. The most common deficiency symptoms in this regard include fatigue, Difficulty concentrating and a low efficiency. Step next to it Mood swings, a general Listlessness and depressive moods on. Symptoms can be as severe as depression.

If there is a zinc deficiency, you can try to improve the symptoms by adding the required daily amount of zinc. Serious depressive episodes should be closely monitored and, if necessary, with antidepressants treated in consultation with a doctor become.

Muscle aches

Zinc plays an important role not only in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, but also in Metabolism of proteins and thus with Building muscles. Classically, muscle pain is not one of the characteristics of a zinc deficiency, but if there are other symptoms, they can also be an expression of a zinc deficiency. For Muscle aches come other nutritional deficiencies rather in question, for example Iron deficiency or Vitamin deficiency as well as cramps Magnesium-, Calcium or Potassium deficiency.

Symptoms in children and young children

Of the congenital zinc deficiency, which is based on a genetic defect, manifests itself in affected infants already in the first weeks of life. The disease is called Enteropathic acrodermatitis denotes and stands out alongside Wound healing disorders by chronic diarrhea out. Affected children also suffer from blistered skin and Stunted growth. The rare disease is having lifelong zinc substitution treated.

Adolescent children and adolescents can also suffer from a lack of zinc if they are malnourished. Especially from Infections zinc deficiency children and adolescents are more affected.

Due to the hormonal change in the puberty Teenagers often suffer from acne, a Zinc deficiency intensifies the symptoms. In addition to the wide range of unspecific symptoms that occur in adults, there are also those in adolescents Stunted growth add there zinc as well on Building healthy bones is involved. Adolescents aged 15 and over have roughly the same requirements as an adult with 7 to 15 mg per day, for children between 7 and 15 years it is 5 to 10 mg per day. Infants between 4 and 12 months of age need 2 mg of zinc per day. Newborns up to four months of age should receive 0.5 mg of zinc per day in order to develop healthily.

Treatment / therapy

A chronic zinc deficiency and the symptoms that occur as a result must be treated with an adequate supply of zinc. Recommended for healthy adults are about 10 to 15 mg zinc per day. There are a variety of foods that naturally contain zinc.

A balanced diet that includes these foods is generally sufficient to prevent and treat chronic zinc deficiency. There are both zinc-containing animal foods and plant-based foods. The human organism can best utilize animal sources such as innards and marine animals. Among the vegetable foods, legumes, peas and soybeans in particular contain a lot of zinc, as well as a large number of types of grain.

Read more on this topic: Complete nutrition and nutrition pyramid

When the zinc deficiency is rectified, the symptoms it causes should also disappear and the patient should generally be healthier, more productive and more resilient. In addition to zinc-rich foods, it is also possible to take zinc supplements in the form of tablets or capsules from a pharmacy or drugstore. However, they do not contain a standardized amount of the trace element, in some cases they are even too high. You should therefore try to compensate for a zinc deficiency with a balanced diet.

Foods / foods with zinc

Zinc content in various foods (information per 100 g of food):

  • Beef: 4.4 mg
  • Calf liver: 8.4 mg
  • Pork liver: 6.5 mg
  • Turkey breast: 2.6 mg
  • Oysters: 22 mg
  • Prawns: 2.2 mg
  • Soybeans (dried): 4.2 mg
  • Lentils (dried): 3.7 mg
  • Gouda cheese (45% fat in dry matter): 3.9 mg
  • Emmentaler cheese (45% fat in dry matter): 4.6 mg
  • Crispbread: 3.1 mg
  • Oatmeal (whole grain): 4.3 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds: 7 mg
  • Flaxseed (unpeeled): 5.5 mg
  • Brazil nuts: 4 mg

Consequences of a zinc deficiency

A chronic zinc deficiency is not only associated with physical exhaustion or reduced performance, but can harm the body in many ways. This includes besides Skin problems and fragile hair also sensory organs, especially those Eyesight at dusk can be restricted. Zinc is made in the body urgently needed for various metabolic processes and should therefore be taken with a balanced diet or, if necessary, in tablet form if a deficiency of the trace element has been diagnosed.