Zinc is an important chemical essential for human functioning. Zinc nutrition deficiency is insufficient availability of zinc in the diet or can be caused due to the malabsorption of zinc by the body. This condition is prevalent in young children, pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, and the elderly. Zinc plays a vital role in many aspects of the immune system. It helps in cell division, clotting, healing wounds, DNA synthesis, growth and development of the fetus, and protein synthesis.
The inherent gastrointestinal problems, liver disease, kidney diseases, and certain other conditions and drugs can prevent zinc absorption by the body causing a zinc deficiency.
Top five signs of zinc deficiency are:
Compromised immune system: Zinc affects cell activities. Zinc deficiency can cause reduced or weakened antibodies and compromise the immune system. Thus the deficient person will be prone to infection or flu.
Diarrhea: A compromised immune system makes one susceptible to infection. One of these infections is a bacteria that causes diarrhea.
Hair loss and skin lesions: Zinc is important for normal cell growth. Zinc nutrition deficiency weakens the cells, which can result in hair loss in case of cells on the scalp and lesions on the skin. This is one of the prominent signs of zinc deficiency.
Loss of appetite and/or anorexia: A deficiency of zinc causes decreased loss of appetite. If zinc deficiency is not identified and treated, decreased loss of appetite can eventually lead to anorexia.
Impairment of cognitive and motor functions: Zinc deficiency in a pregnant mother can not only weaken the mother, but can also cause damage to the fetus’s neurological system, impairing the motor skills and cognitive skills of the infant.
Other signs of zinc deficiency are reduced fertility, rashes on the skin, spots on fingernails, sleep disturbance, loss of sex drive, loss of taste or smell, and in some cases mild anemia.
Zinc nutritional deficiency can be treated by taking zinc supplements and increasing intake of zinc through the diet. Foods rich in zinc are wheat, oats, pumpkin seeds, eggs, milk, oysters, nuts, meat, and peas. Zinc supplements are generally included in complete supplements. These zinc supplements are taken orally. If diagnosed with zinc deficiency, one needs to consult a physician for the correct dosage and type of zinc supplements to be taken.
Zinc should always be taken in recommended doses
. Excessive intake can be toxic, causing nausea, vomiting, headache, and abdominal pain. Continued intake of zinc in excess quantities can lead to organ failure and can even be fatal.
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