Why do you need zinc? - NL-033
While the use of zinc supplements is common during cold and flu, zinc is a mineral that is usually taken for granted. It might not always make headlines unlike other minerals such as iron, calcium and vitamin D, but ignoring this crucial mineral can be detrimental to your health.
Your body needs zinc to carry out hundreds of biochemical reactions. It boosts immunity, helps in cell growth, repairs tissue and supports DNA and protein synthesis. Did you know zinc deficiency can lead to leaky gut? And that you need zinc for healthy brain function? In addition, your skin and retina of the eye contain high amounts of zinc, underlining the importance of zinc in keeping your skin, eyes and vision healthy.
Your body needs zinc to:
- Make new cells
- Repair tissue
- Synthesise DNA
- Strengthen immunity
- Support healthy metabolism
- Maintain gut health
- Keep your eyes and vision healthy
- Maintain sense of taste and smell
- Support reproductive health and fertility
- Maintain healthy levels of hormones
- Make collagen
- Maintain healthy gut barrier function
- Facilitate wound healing
What causes zinc deficiency?
You may develop zinc deficiency if you are not consuming a well-balanced and wholesome diet. Oysters, crab, lobster, fish, red meat and chicken are some excellent sources of zinc. Dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans, oatmeal, whole grains and fruits also contain high amounts of zinc. Your body cannot store zinc. It is, therefore, important that you consume foods that contain zinc on a daily basis.
Older adults, people with absorption issues and those who have liver disease, sickle cell anaemia and diabetes are highly likely to develop zinc deficiency. Zinc requirement also increases during pregnancy and breastfeeding. People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol are also at risk of deficiency. Iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc.
Signs of zinc deficiency
Metallic taste in mouth, taste and smell impairment, frequent infections, acne, dry skin, hair loss, and white spots on your fingernails are some signs that you could be deficient in this essential mineral. Zinc deficiency can also lead to diarrhoea, fatigue, unintended weight loss, decreased libido, open sores on skin, and vision problems such as dry eyes and blurred vison. Poor zinc levels can cause poor growth and development in children.
Taking zinc supplements? This is what you need to know
Zinc is a trace mineral, and you only need it in small amounts to maintain your health, as too much of zinc can be harmful. Taking high doses of zinc might cause stomach cramps, dizziness and vomiting. What’s more, the superfluous zinc in the body interferes with the absorption of copper, resulting in copper deficiency. Poor copper levels can cause weak bones, loss of skin pigmentation and increased risk of infections. Prolonged or excessive consumption of zinc supplements can also cause anaemia, reduced libido and changes in cholesterol levels.