According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global prevalence of zinc deficiency is 31%. Zinc is an essential trace element, needed for health and used as a cofactor in more than 300 different enzymes. It is present in every cell, organ, bone, tissue, and fluid in our bodies and is found in particularly high amounts in the male prostate gland and semen. Even a mild dietary deficiency of zinc can have far-reaching health implications. Zinc is involved in immunity, reproduction, energy, skin health, vision and much more.
Good food sources of zinc:
• Chickpeas, lentils
• Sesame seeds
• Pumpkin seeds
Who is most at risk of zinc deficiency?
• Vegetarian / vegan diet, since these diets eliminate the highest food sources of zinc
• Low stomach acid
• Leaky gut syndrome / malabsorption problems
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Aged 65 and older
• Women taking the birth control pill or on hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Symptoms of zinc deficiency:
• Change in appetite
• Poor neurological function
• Change in taste or smell
• Hair loss
• Digestive problems
• Chronic fatigue
• Skin problems such as acne and skin rashes
• Low immunity
• Slow wound healing
What should I do if I think I’m low?
Start by increasing your intake of foods known to be high in zinc. In addition, you can take a daily supplement - choose zinc picolinate as this form is known to be well absorbed and assimilated into the body. Zinc taken for long periods can deplete your copper levels so it is important to supplement with copper if you are taking zinc regularly.