Zinc is one of the most important essential minerals! Essential meaning the body does not naturally produce it, and therefore it must be obtained through food. It is responsible for over 300 enzymes in the body that aid in metabolism, digestion, and nerve function.
Studies show that even a mild deficiency in zinc affects clinical biochemical and immunological functions negatively. Reports indicate that in the US, marginal zinc deficiency is widespread and about 2.2 billion people across the world are zinc deficient.
Zinc assessment is very important and luckily, there is an easy way to test your zinc status in the comfort of your own home. This is called the Zinc Tally Test. Fall is a great time of year to do this testing (on yourselves and your children) as Zinc important for the immune system and your ability to fight infection. Later in this blog, we will discuss how to do this testing at home.
First, check over the Signs or Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency list:
· White spots on the nails and/or absent lunula (moon shaped, white area on nail bed)
· Decreased sense of taste and smell
· Decreased immune system
· Cuts are slow to heal or impaired wound healing in general
· Increased susceptibility to infection
· Acne, dry skin or skin rashes (Dermatitis)
· Hair thinning and/or hair loss; baldness
· Chronic, severe diarrhea
· Decreased appetite and/or weight loss
· Night blindness
· Swelling and clouding of the corneas of the eyes
· Decreased muscle mass
· Fertility issues
· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
· Depression, irritability, poor concentration
· Behavioral disturbances and learning difficulties
· Delayed or impaired growth and development
· Delayed sexual maturity
Those with an Increased Risk of Deficiency include:
· Older infants exclusively breastfed by moms with zinc deficiency
· Pregnant and breastfeeding women
· Patients on parenteral nutrition (feeding tube)
· Malnourished individuals (including those with anorexia or bulimia)
· Chronic dieters
· Malabsorption syndromes (such as celiac disease)
· Those with gastrointestinal diseases (Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD) like Crohn’s Disease.
· High alcohol intake or Alcoholic Liver Disease
· Sickle cell anemia
· Adults > 65 years of age
· Strict vegetarians (strict vegetarians or vegans may require up to 50 percent more zinc than omnivores owing to the high phytate content of the vegetarian diet)
Here are some Health Benefits of Zinc:
· Enhances the immune system
· Accelerates wound healing (Zinc is the wound healer! It plays a major role in regulating every phase of the wound healing process)
· Supports skin health (used in acne protocols and for other skin rashes)
· Decreases inflammation
· Support hair and nails
· Manages hormonal health and enhances fertility
· Supports growth and development in children
· Antioxidant properties (protects cells from oxidative stress and damage)
· Enhances cardiovascular health
· Supports digestion and absorption
· Manages blood sugar
· May reduce the risk of certain age-related diseases (pneumonia, infection, macular degeneration, oxidative stress)
· AND is essential for taste and smell
· Healthy mental function and mood
· Sufficient energy production
Okay, So How Do You Check for Zinc Deficiency at home?
What you will need:
1) Aqueous Zinc Solution (I use Metagenics Zinc Tally or Standard Process Zinc Taste Test) - can be purchased in our online store.
Place a small amount of zinc solution in your mouth and hold it there for at least 30 seconds. You can swoosh it around a bit if you would like. Pay attention to your initial taste. Then choose your reaction according to the following categories (for accurate results, refrain from eating, drinking or smoking for at least 1 hour prior to the test).
Response #1: No specific taste or other sensation is noticed after the solution has been kept in the mouth for 30 seconds.
Response #2: No immediate taste is noticed, but after a few seconds a slight taste variously described as ‘dry’, ‘mineral’, ‘furry’, or sweet develops.
Response #3: Definite, though not strongly unpleasant, taste is noted almost immediately and tends to intensify with time.
Response #4: A strong, unpleasant taste is noted almost immediately.
Response #1: Strongly suggests zinc deficiency and favorable response to zinc supplementation.
Response #2: Suggests zinc deficiency and favorable response to zinc supplementation.
Response #3: Suggests zinc is likely inadequate with need for zinc supplementation
Response #4: Suggests zinc is adequate with no need for zinc supplementation.
If you have found that you are showing signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency, it’s time to boost your intake through food!
Check out Food Sources Rich in Zinc:
· Shellfish (crab*, lobster, shrimp, mussels)
· Fish (sole, anchovies, herring, sardines)
· Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, hemp*)
· Nuts (cashews, pine, almonds)
· Legumes (chickpeas, lentils)
· Shiitake mushrooms
If you had no taste or even a slight taste, you may want to supplement zinc. Zinc is best taken with food or after a meal as it can cause nausea on an empty stomach. Every individual is different and therefore dosing will be different. Please contact us with questions on dosing for yourself or children.
If you are interested in doing the Zinc Tally Test at home, you can purchase the Zinc Solution HERE.