Did you know that dietary Zinc deficiency is quite common in the developing world? The Linus Pauling Institute estimates that 2 billion people world wide are affected by dietary zinc deficiency. Because Zinc is such a key nutrient that plays multiple roles in the body’s biochemistry, it is considered an ‘essential’ trace element, without which we cannot survive!
Zinc deficiency can present in so many ways - as immune deficiency, impaired taste sensation, depression, hair loss, impaired growth and development in children as well as complications in pregnancy to name a few.
Physical signs of zinc deficiency may present as markings on the nails or little bumps on the upper arms.
In addition to marginally depleted zinc levels in our general population, we can also find people who have severe zinc deficiency from genetic or acquired conditions. One such condition is known as Pyrroles disorder, where the body depletes Zinc and Vitamin B6 – this can result in Depression, Autism, ADHD and behavioral disorders, learning difficulties, or even Schizophrenia. Pyrroles disorder is relatively simple to treat, yet many cases go undiagnosed or mis diagnosed and are treated with heavy medications.
Zinc is found in meat, eggs and shellfish, especially oysters. It is also found in whole grains, nuts and legumes, but is not absorbed as easily from these plant sources. In addition, many people also have reduced absorption capacity due to poor diets, leaky gut or other conditions that affect the digestive and absorptive processes.
Taking excessive zinc can lead to a depletion of copper, hence supplementation needs to be monitored and adjusted as needed. Also the appropriate form of zinc and right dosage needs to be tailored to each individual - so best to talk to a health professional if you think you need to take some zinc.