Zinc is an essential trace mineral important for a large number of structural proteins, enzymatic processes and transcription factors. It plays main role in the cell-mediated immunity, bone formation, tissue growth, brain function, wound healing and prevent blood clotting. Zinc deficiency symptoms and treatment mentioned below.
Adequate zinc intake is especially important for children because even mild zinc deficiency can impede growth, increase risk of infection, and increase risk of diarrhea and respiratory disease.
The recommended intake for children 1-8 years old ranges from 3-5 milligrams, increasing as the child gets older.
Males 9-13 years old require 8 milligrams of zinc per day. After the age of 14, the requirement increases to the 11 milligrams per day that is required for all adult males. For females over the age of 8, the requirement stays stable at 8 milligrams per day, except for ages 14-18, where the recommendation increases to 9 milligrams per day.
Pregnant and lactating women have an increased need for zinc at 11-13 milligrams per day, depending on age.
Conditions resulting to zinc deficiency:
1. Nutritional zinc deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake.
2. Lack of intake of animal foods.
3. Reduced bioavailability of zinc due to high intake of phytate.
4. Excessive alcohol intake.
5. Gastrointestinal infections and malabsorption syndromes.
6. Sickle cell disease.
7. Chronic renal disease.
8. Excessive sweating in hot tropical climate.
9. Increased used of diuretics.
10. Eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency
- Delayed growth
- Slow wound healing
- Appetite loss
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Weakened immunity
Treatment of zinc deficiency
Zinc deficiency can be treated by diet or supplementation. Supplements are available at most pharmacies and health stores. Supplements can contain different amounts of elemental zinc and are labeled as zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, or zinc acetate.
Each supplement should have information about how much elemental zinc is available in each type. Zinc is also a common component of throat lozenges, as zinc is thought to help treat the common cold
A person can also try to increase the intake of zinc containing foods, for example:
- Red meat
- Sesame and pumpkin seeds
Tips to prevent zinc deficiency:
There are many ways, a person can prepare and eat foods to make zinc more available in their daily diets.
For example, a person can soak beans in water before cooking them. This reduces the presence of phytates, making it easier for the body to process the zinc.
Choosing leavened grain products can also help reduce the number of phytates, increasing the amount of zinc for the body to use.