Is your body telling you that you’re not getting enough zinc? Why is Zinc So essential for your wellbeing? Keep reading, Health Space Mona Vale’s Clinical Nutritionist, Tina Henwood, will explain.
Zinc is one of the most important minerals for health and well being, needed for proper function of thyroid gland, digestion (makes stomach acid), concentration, mood and sleep, wound healing, healthy immune system, sperm production and prostate function.
In fact Zinc is an essential mineral for the activity of more than 90 enzymes. Yet, unfortunately research shows that 85% of Australian women and 50% of men are not getting enough zinc in their diet. This is due to over processing of food, poor soil zinc levels as well as an overload of toxins and heavy metals in our food which block zinc absorption.
On top of this, some other factors such as increased exercise, eating disorders, old age, chronic diarrhoea and Crohn’s disease, alcohol and coffee consumption as well as vegan diets increase the need for Zinc.
Zinc deficiency is also common with people who are using medications such as high blood pressure medications, contraceptive pill and medications that reduce the amount of stomach acid produced.
Very commonly, our body is able to tell us that we are not getting enough Zinc. Here are the main clinical clues of zinc deficiency:
1. Poor appetite and loss of taste and smell. Zinc is required to maintain the sensation of taste and smell.
2. Slow wound healing and issues with skin. Low zinc levels might present with slow wound healing and skin issues such as eczema, dermatitis, acne and stretch marks.
3. Low immunity. Zinc deficiency might be an underlying issue for frequent cold and flu’s and other immune issues such as allergies.
4. Low libido and reduced sperm count. Zinc is essential in development of reproductive organs, prostate function, sperm production and male hormone activity.
5. White spots on fingernails. These classically occur with zinc deficiency but the absence of white spots doesn’t rule out Zinc deficiency!
6. Mood, sleep and neurological issues. Zinc deficiency is associated with poor concentration, mood and sleep as zinc is required to convert tryptophan to serotonin/melatonin (hormones that are required for happy mood and restorative sleep). Zinc also plays an important role in modulating the brain’s response to stress.
7. Gastrointestinal issues. Zinc is required for the production of stomach acid, healing of gastric ulcers and gut permeability. Zinc deficiency is associated with digestive issues.
8. Thinning and greying hair. Zinc is needed for proper functioning of thyroid gland and thyroid problems may cause thinning hair or even alopecia. Zinc deficiency is also associated with de-pigmentation of hair.
If you are suffering from any of the above mentioned symptoms, a nutritionist can work with you to advise dietary changes that will increase zinc absorption, inclusion of zinc rich foods and possible supplementation with a high quality bio available zinc supplements.
Tina Henwood, Clinical Nutritionist at Health Space MonaVale
Tina is an accredited practicing nutritionist (Bachelor of Health Science, Nutritional Medicine) with a specific interest in gut health, autoimmune conditions and disordered eating.
Her aim is to offer warm and compassionate nutrition consultations with a shift of mindset away from restrictive diets, instead focussing on individualised nutrition therapy and bringing back the joy of eating.