Do You Keep Getting Sick? And Other Signs of Zinc Deficiency

This blog post is a bit of a mish mash of all things zinc. Hopefully soon I can polish it up, but I wanted to get it out now because this time of year is a good time to talk about this important mineral.

Do you keep getting sick (cold or flu) or you have a parent or grandparent in a nursing home? 
Zinc is extremely important for a healthy immune system.

Zinc deficiency affects 40% of the elderly in the U.S. 
Consider suggesting taking, or giving, your senior a zinc supplement so they can avoid, or get over, the flu faster and with less symptoms during this scary flu season. 

The elderly also often don’t have the best appetite and a zinc deficiency can affect your sense of hearing, taste and smell. Who knows? They may enjoy food a little more if they get enough zinc.
And you might both enjoy your conversations a little more ;)
Teenagers with a zinc deficiency can also lose their appetite, so this is something to watch for.
  • A sign of low zinc can be experiencing skin lesions or acne. Do you drink pop and break out? Zinc supplementation has been shown to be better treatment for adult acne than medication. Adult acne- 30-40 mg of zinc a day for 6 months. Stop drinking pop and eating a lot of sugar to get rid of the acne faster.
  • Low sperm count and male infertility- can also be a sign of zinc deficiency. 
  • Zinc is important for prostate health, fights cancer cells and acts as a tumor suppressor!
  • Zinc is needed, not only for proper immune function, but also for proper growth and sexual maturation, and the production of hemoglobin.
  • Zinc fights oxidative damage, and produces energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
  • Poor night vision? - zinc helps activate Vitamin A in the retina of the eye.
  • Zinc might be of possible benefit in the treatment of ADHD, osteoporosis and treating and preventing pneumonia

  • Frequent colds and flues
  • Low thyroid function
  • Hair loss
  • White spots on beds of nails
  • Hearing loss, occasionally
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sense of taste and smell
  • Acne
  • Skin lesions
  • Slow wound healing
  • Poor night vision
  • Low sperm count
  • Male infertility
  • Poor growth and development
  • Impaired cognition
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea 
Who's at Risk and Risk Factors:
  • The elderly
  • People with a diet high in sugar and caffeine
  • Vegans and vegetarians
  • Individuals who take high blood pressure medications
  • Frequent, strenuous exercise
  • Low meat consumption
Take 8-11 mg of zinc a day.
More if you exercise hard, take diuretics, drink pop, eat a lot of sugar, consume a lot of caffeine, or take high blood pressure meds.
Pregnant and lactating women have an increased need for zinc of up to 23 milligrams per day, depending on age.
Take at bedtime.
Do not exceed 40 milligrams for males and females over 18 years.
Food Before Supplements
Food Sources of Zinc:

The best sources of zinc are beans, animal meats, nuts, fish and other seafood, whole grain cereals, pumpkin seeds and dairy products. Zinc is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods.

Vegetarians may require up to 50 percent more than the recommended intake of zinc because of low bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods.

Foods with the highest reported zinc content are:
  • raw oysters (Pacific), 3 ounces: 14.1 milligrams
  • beef, lean chuck roast, braised, 3 ounces: 7.0 milligrams
  • baked beans, canned, ½ cup: 6.9 milligrams
  • crab, King Alaskan, cooked, 3 ounces: 6.5 milligrams
  • ground beef, lean, 3 ounces: 5.3 milligrams
  • lobster, cooked, 3 ounces: 3.4 milligrams
  • pork loin, lean, cooked, 3 ounces: 2.9 milligrams
  • wild rice, cooked, ½ cup: 2.2 milligrams
  • peas, green, cooked, 1 cup: 1.2 milligrams
  • yogurt, plain, 8 ounces: 1.3 milligrams
  • pecans, 1 ounces: 1.3 milligrams
  • peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounces: 0.9 milligrams
Source for Food Supplementation:

I like to squeeze a fresh lime or lemon into water and drink it with a zinc supplement at certain times of the cold and flu season. It can't hurt and at least I'm getting in some more water.

Eat a variety of real, whole foods, wash your hands, get enough sleep and stay healthy this winter!