Zinc deficiency: Introduction
A zinc deficiency is an abnormal condition in which there is an inadequate amount of the essential trace element zinc in the body. Zinc is an important trace element, and getting a sufficient amount is vital to many body processes, such as a healthy immune system.
Zinc is perhaps best known as an aid in preventing or minimizing the length of the common cold or upper respiratory infection. In addition, some studies have found that zinc, along with other antioxidants, may play some role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.
Adequate amounts of zinc are also important to wound healing, enzyme activity, DNA production, cell division, and the senses of taste, smell and sight. Zinc is also vital to normal growth and development starting in the fetal period and continuing though adulthood.
Zinc deficiency can result in a wide variety of symptoms and complications that affect many organs and body systems. For more details about the symptoms, refer to symptoms of zinc deficiency.
Zinc is not stored by the body, so it is important to eat foods that contain zinc every day to avoid a deficiency. These foods include red meat poultry, oysters, shellfish, nuts, beans, whole grains, and fortified cereals. Zinc is also available in dietary supplements.
Because the American diet is generally rich in meats, zinc deficiency is uncommon in most people in the U.S., according to the national Institutes of Health. However, some groups are at risk for the condition. These include the vegetarians, the elderly, and people who are malnourished. Zinc is generally more common is areas of the world where there is widespread malnutrition. In addition, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are at risk because of the high demand for zinc from a developing and breastfeeding infant.
People who have a gastrointestinal disease or surgery that can affect the absorption of zinc, such as Crohn's disease or malabsorption syndrome are also at risk. Other diseases that increase the risk of developing zinc deficiency include chronic diseases, such as alcoholism, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, acrodermatitis enteropathica, and cancer.
A diagnosis of zinc deficiency begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms and risk factors, and a physical examination. Diagnostic tests include a blood zinc level. However, this test cannot always accurately detect a zinc deficiency. Because of this a diagnosis must be based on a careful evaluation of dietary habits, risk factors, symptoms, and possible complications in order to make a diagnosis.
Because there is no definitive test for zinc deficiency, a delayed or missed diagnosis of the condition is possible. Further complicating a diagnosis are the symptoms and presentation, which can be vague and/or similar to some other conditions. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of zinc deficiency.
Zinc deficiency is a very preventable disorder. Treatment includes the increasing the intake of foods that are high in zinc in the diet and the use of supplements that contain zinc. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of zinc deficiency. ...more »
Zinc deficiency: When there is a deficiency of zinc in an individuals body.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Zinc deficiency is available below.
Zinc deficiency: Symptoms
The symptoms of zinc deficiency are related to the essential trace element's role in various processes of the body. Zinc is vital to a healthy immune system, so a zinc deficiency can result in frequent infections, diarrhea, and increased susceptibility to life-threatening infections in children.
Zinc is also important to healthy growth and development. A zinc ...more symptoms »
Zinc deficiency: Treatments
The first step in the treatment of zinc deficiency is prevention. It is important to eat a diet that includes a sufficient amount of zinc. Zinc is found in foods, such as include red meat poultry, oysters, shellfish, nuts, beans, whole grains, and fortified cereals. Zinc is also available in dietary supplements.
In some people, such as vegetarians whose diet does not ...more treatments »
Zinc deficiency: Misdiagnosis
It is possible for a diagnosis of zinc deficiency to be delayed or missed, because some symptoms, such as hair loss, loss of appetite, and weight loss, might be overlooked or attributed other conditions, such as stress or depression.
Some symptoms of zinc deficiency, such as poor wound healing, might also be assumed to be symptoms of other coexisting conditions, such as ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Zinc deficiency
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symptoms of Zinc deficiency
Treatments for Zinc deficiency
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Zinc deficiency?
Zinc deficiency: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Zinc deficiency.
Zinc deficiency: Complications
Read more about complications of Zinc deficiency.
Causes of Zinc deficiency
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Misdiagnosis and Zinc deficiency
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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Zinc deficiency
Medical research articles related to Zinc deficiency include: