Are you tired, depressed? Perhaps you suffer from a zinc deficiency. This mineral, which is essential to the functioning of your body, modulates the activity of more than 200 enzymes! The symptoms of a zinc deficiency are varied, and it is the combination of these signs that should make you think of a deficiency in this nutrient. Here are the 7 signs that you may be suffering from zinc deficiency, and the possible reasons for this.
You are tired
Fatigue is a common symptom of many diseases. It is not specific to zinc deficiency, but it should be taken into account all the same. It is the set of symptoms we are about to describe that are indicative of zinc deficiency. People suffering from this deficiency feel very tired. Their brain activity is slowed down (reduced production of neurotransmitters), sometimes with problems of memory loss.
Your immune system is at half-mast
Do you catch the slightest cold? Zinc deficiency makes the body more susceptible to respiratory and ENT infections. In fact, zinc is essential for the proper functioning of your immune system. A micronutrient deficiency reduces the body's innate immune responses, which are then no longer adequate. This increases susceptibility to infections. Zinc acts as an antioxidant: it protects thiol groups from oxidation (enzymes, receptors) and modulates the function of immune cells. (1) A zinc deficiency reduces immune reactions and creates chronic inflammation. (2) We also invite you to read our article Which Vitamins to Strengthen the Immune System?
You have lost your appetite
Loss of appetite is one of the symptoms of zinc deficiency for which no real explanation has yet been found. Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain it. One of these hypotheses is that this deficiency increases the mass of undigested food in the intestine, which would be responsible for this loss of appetite. (3). This leads to a vicious circle: the less we eat, the greater the zinc deficiency, the smaller our appetite, etc. Moreover, zinc is an essential coenzyme for the production of proteins. Gustin is the protein of the taste buds and is also zinc-dependent.
You lose your hair, your nails are brittle, or your skin peels
Zinc is a trace element that contributes to the growth of hair and nails. Hair and nails have a common composition, including a protein called keratin. Zinc is present in high concentrations in the epidermis, as it is useful for the differentiation of keratinocytes. Zinc deficiency makes hair thin and brittle and is one of the causes of alopecia, i.e. hair loss. Similarly, a deficiency in this trace element will make the nails brittle or ridged. White spots can also appear on the nails. In the skin, and more specifically in the epidermis, significant desquamation may appear: the skin peels. (4) The quality of the skin is affected, sometimes with acne.
You suffer from depression or mood disorders
Zinc-deficient people are more likely to develop psychological illnesses: depression, mood swings, etc. Research shows that people who are depressed are more likely to have a zinc deficiency. It is not yet known to what extent such a deficiency would have consequences on the psyche. The latest hypotheses are related to the antioxidant activity of zinc. This mineral is thought to play a role in affective and cognitive functions by acting on glutamate circuits. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter involved in the brain's reward circuits. In the long term, a lack of zinc intake would play a role in the development of psychiatric pathologies and cognitive decline. (5) We recommend reading the article How to fight depression naturally?
You have hormonal problems
Le zinc est essentiel à la sécrétion de certaines hormones, dont l'insuline, le facteur humoral thymique et la gustine. Ces hormones jouent différents rôles dans l'organisme :
- l'insuline régule la glycémie ;
- le facteur humoral thymique, une hormone sécrétée par le thymus, stimule l'immunocompétence des lymphocytes T ;
- la gustine, présente dans la salive, stimule la croissance des papilles.
En agissant ainsi sur ces hormones, la carence en zinc provoque :
- une perturbation du métabolisme de l'insuline, avec une insulino-résistance, des risques de diabète accrus, une prise de poids, etc. ; (6)
- une perte de goût et d'odorat, à cause de la baisse de la sécrétion de gustine ; (7)
- une diminution de la synthèse des lymphocytes T.
You don't heal well
When you are injured, your wounds take longer to heal. This is because zinc is an important co-factor in the synthesis of enzymes necessary for the repair of the cell membrane and the proliferation of these cells. Zinc deficiency thus weakens the healing process. (8) (9)
Why do you suffer from zinc deficiency?
Zinc is supplied by the diet, and the body needs to constantly renew its stock for all its needs. The main sources of dietary zinc are
- meat: beef, liver (veal or chicken), ham;
- certain cheeses, such as maroilles;
- nuts: cashew nuts, pecans, etc.
- legumes such as lentils, in which zinc is still present in smaller quantities than in the above foods.
Some people are more likely to develop a zinc deficiency because of a lower dietary intake or because of certain pathologies:
- strict vegetarians and vegans;
- people with celiac disease, intestinal malabsorption, and other intestinal diseases;
- HIV patients;
- people who have undergone bariatric surgery, such as bypass surgery
Why do you suffer from zinc deficiency?
The best solution is to start by rebalancing your diet. Taking food supplements rich in zinc and highly assimilable by the body will help the body to replenish this trace element, in order to reduce the symptoms of zinc deficiency as quickly as possible. In the case of serious digestive problems, consulting a doctor to diagnose an intestinal disease, which causes malabsorption of nutrients, may be useful before starting zinc supplementation.