Zinc Deficiency: Signs and Treatment


Zinc deficiency causes various non-specific symptoms, so it is not easy to identify. We reveal typical signs and what helps.

What is zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency has several symptoms that are difficult to classify - for example, hair loss and brittle fingernailsZinc is an essential trace element, which means that the body cannot make it. So it has to be supplied through zinc supplements or the diet - this is primarily done through meat consumption. Around 20 percent of all adults in Germany suffer from a zinc deficiency.

Zinc requirements: why does the body need zinc?

Zinc is involved in a large number of bodily processes - including activating the immune system, metabolism, and hormones. This is also one of the reasons why zinc deficiency triggers such as unspecific symptoms. And it is not as easy to determine as, for example, iron deficiency. Because there is a blood test for zinc deficiency, but this is unreliable - the deficiency is only noticeable in the blood when it is very advanced.

Symptoms: How do I recognize a zinc deficiency?

There are no symptoms that exclusively indicate a zinc deficiency.  If several of the following symptoms occur, a zinc deficiency is obvious:

  • Hair falls out
  • Nails are brittle
  • High susceptibility to infections/colds
  • Wound healing is delayed
  • Taste and smell disorders
  • fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • dry skin
  • dry eyes
  • increased blood sugar levels

The correct zinc level and causes: How does zinc deficiency arise?

Most of the time, zinc deficiency occurs when not enough zinc is consumed through the diet. Normally, healthy adult men need ten milligrams of zinc per day and women seven milligrams. For comparison: With 50 grams of Edam you already take in five milligrams of zinc. But besides diet, other factors or diseases can also trigger a zinc deficiency. These include:

  • diabetes
  • Liver, bowel, or stomach disorders
  • increased alcohol consumption

Also, certain factors increase the need for zinc. These include:

  • Smoke
  • stress
  • Diseases like cancer
  • heavy sweating

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly as well as children and adolescents generally have a higher need for zinc.

Treatment: what to do about zinc deficiency?

If a disease is the cause of zinc deficiency, this must be treated first. Otherwise, the easiest way to absorb it is to rely on foods that are high in zinc. The following foods are particularly high in zinc:

  • Beef fillet
  • Calf liver
  • Nuts
  • Wheat germ
  • oatmeal
  • Edam
  • lenses

Zinc supply through preparations

If the symptoms do not subside after one to two weeks, you can also try a cure with zinc supplements. For this purpose, 25 milligrams of zinc is taken daily for two to three weeks. But: This is best planned and completed under medical supervision. An overdose of zinc can also cause unpleasant side effects such as a metallic taste in the mouth, stomach, and intestinal problems or fever.