Zinc Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms, Diseases & Treatment

Written by MomJunction • 

Zinc plays a vital role in various metabolic activities of the body. Deficiency of zinc vitamin is also known as Hypozincemia, caused due to inadequate levels of zinc in the diet. This happens due to consumption of an unbalanced diet. Low levels of zinc can lead to a wide range of ailments like genetic disorders, abnormal growth, fertility problems in men/women, etc. This deficiency is mainly observed in pregnant women, young children, and breastfeeding mothers.

Causes of Zinc Deficiency

Zinc is required for many vital bodily functions. Hence, you should consume the required amount or take a supplement. Deficiency of this essential vitamin usually happens due to poor dietary habits, such as less consumption of fruits and vegetables. Zinc deficiency is a very serious problem, and should be treated using natural foods or dietary supplements.

Other factors that may cause zinc deficiency in humans include:

  1. Mal-absorption,
  2. Diarrhoea
  3. Chronic liver disease
  4. Chronic renal disease
  5. Diabetes
  6. Surgery
  7. Heavy metal exposure

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

  • Brittle nails
  • Dandruff
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry skin
  • Eye infections
  • Hair Loss
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of sense of smell and/or taste
  • Sexual dysfunction or impotence
  • Skin blemishes
  • Stunted growth
  • Low Immunity

Zinc Deficiency Diseases & Treatments

1. Pregnancy:

Zinc deficiency may create complications during the birth process. Difficult delivery, prolonged labour, haemorrhaging, depression may result from the presence of low levels of zinc in pregnant women.

[ Read: Selenium Deficiency ]

2. Hypogonadism:

This can be explained as bad functioning of the reproductive system. In this disorder, the ovaries or testes don’t produce hormones, eggs or sperms.

3. Immune System:

Zinc deficiency affects the normal functions of the cells. It can reduce or weaken the antibodies. Hence, the person with such deficiency will attract more infections and flu. Zinc is essential for maintaining an effective immune system.

4. Acne Vulgaris:

Application of zinc-based creams is a safe and effective method to treat acne vulgaris. Hence, adding zinc to your daily diet can help you get rid of those unwanted pimples and acne.

[ Read: Unwanted Pimples and Acne ]

5. Gastric Ulcers:

Zinc is a vital element for the healing of wounds. Zinc compounds have a proven healing effect on gastric ulcers as well. Zinc supplements as advised can be taken to treat this immediately, especially in the early stages.

6. Female Issues:

Zinc deficiency can cause PMS or menstrual cycle imbalance. During pregnancy, it may cause depression.

7. Skin and Nails:

oily skin
Image: Getty

Zinc deficiency can cause skin lesions, hangnails; white spots on fingernails, inflamed cuticles, skin rashes, dry skin, and poor nail growth. It can result in harmful effects like psoriasis, dry skin, acne and eczema. Zinc boots the renewal of the skin cells. Creams containing Zinc are applied on diaper rash, cuts and wounds to heal them. Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties; its deficiency can cause sunburn, psoriasis, blisters and gum diseases.

[ Read: Niacin Deficiency Symptoms ]

8. Thyroid function:

Zinc produces the different hormones of thyroid. It helps in the making of T3 which regulates the thyroid function.

9. Mood and Sleep:

Zinc deficiency can cause sleep disturbances and behavioral problems. This can leave patients with fatigue and in an irritated mood.  It can also lead to sleep and concentration disorders at night.

10. Cell division:

Zinc plays an important role in the growth and cell division. Zinc is advised during pregnancy for fetal growth.  Zinc is necessary for height, body weight and bone development in children.

11. Cataracts:

The retina contains good amounts of zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause partial or complete loss of vision. Zinc also helps to cure night blindness and cataracts.

[Read: How Do People Get Pompe Disease ]

12. Hair loss.

Zinc helps to manufacture sebum which is required for healthy and moisturized hair. It conditions the scalp and can cure dandruff. Also, it helps to keep the hair strong and healthy. Deficiency of zinc can cause loss of hair, thin and dull hair, baldness and grey hair. Most of the dandruff shampoos contain zinc.

Some Important Tips:

  1. Consume uncooked food since zinc gets lost in the cooking process.
  2. Use supplements only when advised.
  3. Avoid over-consumption.
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