12 Warning Signs of Zinc Deficiency and How to Fix It

12 Warning Signs of Zinc Deficiency and How to Fix It

Avatar of Agogo

Are you suffering from frequent breakouts or chronic adult acne? Do you often catch colds and illnesses that seem to take ages to treat and cure? Are you suffering from any sleep disorders? These all could be warning indicators that you’re not getting enough amount of zinc.

Even thou you don’t need to consume tons of zinc every day, it’s absolutely important that you get a recommended daily intake of this mineral, which equals 8 milligrams for women and 11 milligrams for men. The thing is, zinc is an essential trace element that’s vital for your gut health, proper cell division during pregnancy, eye health, DNA synthesis, wound healing, mental clarity, hormone balance, metabolism, nutrient absorption, hair growth, skin health, and healthy immunity.

If you have problems with any of the aforementioned health conditions, here are a few possible signs you’re deficient in zinc and a list of the foods rich in this mineral. But first, let’s find out who can develop zinc deficiencies.

Who is at the highest risk of zinc deficiency?

Vegans and vegetarians, frequent dieters, people who fast regularly, teenagers during puberty or growth spurts, those who drink a lot of alcohol, people with diabetes mellitus and celiac disease, and elderly people have the highest risk of zinc deficiency. Pregnant and lactating moms are at risk as well if they don’t watch their nutrient intake.

What are the biggest signs?

1.Poor memory and learning capabilities

Zinc plays a critical role in maintaining cognitive stability and memory formation as it controls communications between the hippocampus and neurons to boost memory and improve learning capabilities. However, if you suffer from any other nutrient deficiency, getting enough zinc won’t be enough to boost your brain power.

2.Rapid vision loss

Do you have difficulty seeing during daylight or at night? Unless you have had this problem for years, a rapid vision loss may signal that your body lacks zinc. The high amounts of this mineral are found in the part of the eye’s retina, the macula, which is why getting enough zinc is vital for your vision.

Moreover, zinc encourages Vitamin A to produce melanin that protects the choroid and retina of the eyes against light-induced cell damage. Some researchers claim that a moderate consumption of zinc-rich foods or wise zinc supplementation can improve night vision.

The two large clinical studies showed that a specific blend of zinc, antioxidants, and vitamins may delay the development and progression of advanced age-related macular degeneration that is the leading cause of vision loss in both children and adults.

3.Alzheimer’s disease

One of the most widely-spread and dangerous diseases worldwide, Alzheimer’s disease is thriving these days. Since zinc deficiency is more common among the elderly, they’re more prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The study conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School and Monmouth University, USA, have shown that a professional zinc therapy in elderly patients can reduce the risk of cognition decline, warding off Alzheimer’s disease for good.

4.Poor pregnancy and infertility

If you have trouble getting pregnant, it may also be a sign of zinc deficiency. Reduced fertility is one of the biggest problems of the couples around the world. Although zinc deficiency alone won’t make you infertile, this mineral plays a critical role in allowing the reproductive system to run smoothly.

Women with a low zinc level or deficiency have been associated with low birth weight, , prolonged labor, and premature births, among the other problems. Men need zinc for proper testicular development and normal sperm motility.

5.Stress, anxiety, and depression

Zinc plays a key role in modulating the body and brain response to stress, anxiety, and other mental disorders, including depression. Zinc has been shown to be lacking in the serum of those suffering from depression. The lower the zinc level in the serum, the more stressed and depressed you become.

When you feel anxious or stressed out, your body requires extra vitamins and minerals to handle the physical implications of those emotions. Zinc supplementation has the powerful antidepressant effects, but it’s always best to increase your mineral intake by eating wholesome foods.

6.Sleep disorders

Perhaps, you have heard of melatonin, a vital hormone that helps you get sound sleep. When the level of melatonin drops, you start experiencing a sleep disturbance that can eventually lead to chronic insomnia. Zinc helps to regulate and stimulate the production of melatonin, improving the quality of your sleep.

A study done by the University of Pavia, Italy, found that taking a supplement containing zinc, magnesium, and melatonin reduced sleep disturbance in people suffering from insomnia. Zinc supplementation might be ineffective for people with chronic disease, though.

7.Delayed wound healing

Does your wound take weeks – if not months – to heal? Poor wound healing is one of the major signs of zinc deficiency. Without enough zinc in your system, your cells will struggle to grow, divide, and develop as fast as they have to, resulting in the longer healing process. Getting zinc from the wholesome foods or supplements will speed up the healing process and reduce the complications.

8.Leaky gut

Zinc doesn’t seem like a critical mineral for your gut health, but zinc deficiency can actually be a reason for a leaky gut. When your gut leaks, the pieces from undigested foods get into the bloodstream, causing an immune response that affects the entire digestive system. A research done by the University of Padova, Italy suggests that the zinc supplementation can tighten the gut walls and thus prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

9.Skin problems

Breakouts, cystic acne, small pimples all over the body, and even skin rashes can all indicate the extremely low level of zinc. No wonder, almost every skin care product that promises to reduce and prevent the most common skin problems contain zinc.

Zinc aids in the normal structure of cell membranes and proteins, boasts anti-inflammatory properties, and helps to protect your skin against the UV radiation that causes the premature aging. As mentioned above, this mineral also interacts with Vitamin A, increasing the retinol level in the body. Retinol is another nutrient that promotes healthy skin.


The high stress levels can often lead to adrenal fatigue that can cause a zinc deficiency. This plays a crucial role in decreasing the release of histamine into the bloodstream. Too much histamine running through the blood can lead to mild allergy symptoms, such as rash, runny nose, sneezing, and swelling. It can increase your sensitivity to allergens as well.

11.Poor nail health and weak hair

Since zinc plays a critical role in cell growth and division and the healing process, so a lack of this mineral may lead to poor nails and weak hair health. The cells that produce fingernails, hair, and skin need great amounts of zinc to stimulate the healthy growth of the tissues. When your cells get enough zinc each day, there is no obstacle for your tissues to grow. This, in turn, promotes a better nail and hair health on a daily basis.

12.Poor immunity

Zinc deficiency isn’t the only cause of weak immunity, but your immune system will never work properly without an adequate level of this mineral in your system.  If you often catch a cold and flu and you frequently suffer from all types of infections, reconsider your eating plan.

The immune system is highly influenced by your nutrient intake, including zinc. It aids in cell growth and white blood cell production, warding off bacteria, viruses, and infections. Zinc also plays an important role in the process called cell ‘suicide’ – or apoptosis – where the cells that are a threat to your health or are no longer needed are programmed to die.

Finally, zinc helps to prevent excess inflammation that’s often linked to a variety of illnesses and diseases, including heart disease, asthma, premature aging, allergies, cancer, and more.

How to Fight Zinc Deficiency Naturally

While supplementation seems to be the easiest way to keep your zinc level high, it’s still recommended to get your nutrients from the food you eat. Depending on your diet, make sure you include more zinc-rich foods into your weekly meal plan.

If you don’t follow any diet, munch on:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Milk, yogurt, kefir, and other dairy products
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts (raw or roasted without salt)
  • Seeds (raw)
  • All kinds of veggies
  • Greens
  • Legumes
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Lobster and crab
  • Oysters

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, incorporate the following foods:

  • Whole breads
  • Whole grains
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sprouts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peas
  • Onions
  • Nuts and homemade nut butters (sodium and sugar-free)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Carrots
  • Beets and beet greens
  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Fruit

If you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off, your best sources of zinc are:

  • Cocoa or dark chocolate
  • Oats
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Egg yolks
  • Seeds (chia, pumpkin, sesame, flax, etc.)
  • Spinach
  • Watermelon seeds
  • Garlic
  • Brown rice
  • Green peas
  • Almonds

Is zinc supplementation safe?

If you’re considering zinc supplementation, zinc orotate, zinc citrate, and zinc gluconate are among the most absorbable forms of the mineral used in supplements. However, since modern supplements aren’t governed by anyone, there’s still a risk to experience both mild and serious side effects of any zinc supplement. Sticking to a daily dose is vital as well. Consult your doctor before boosting your zinc intake with a help of supplements.

Zinc deficiency can be as dangerous as magnesium or vitamin D deficiency, so don’t ignore the warning signs mentioned above. See a nutritionist if you have a zinc deficiency to create the right meal plan for you.