A chiropractor or primary care provider when determining how to increase zinc for patients can order a blood test to know for sure…
The human body needs certain minerals for optimal health. Some of the ones most important are calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. But zinc is another key mineral that provides a variety of health-related benefits, making it critical to both identify and correct an existing deficiency, and zero-in on the best way, through food intake, supplements or both, to determine how to increase zinc for patients.
Zinc’s health benefits
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) shares that zinc is involved in numerous biological processes, including the bolstering of strong immune function, assisting with the synthesis of both DNA and protein, and aiding in the healing of wounds.
During pregnancy, zinc is needed for healthy growth and development of the fetus. Once the baby is born, this mineral continues to support growth and development processes through childhood and adolescence. Zinc also helps us taste and smell.
Consequences of not getting enough zinc
If the body doesn’t get enough zinc, the NIH indicates that this could result in stunted growth, appetite loss, and a weakened immune system. If the zinc deficiency is severe, potential effects can include:
- hair loss
- lesions on the skin and eyes
- sexual maturation issues, impotence issues, or hypogonadism (in males)
- slowed mental capacities
- weight loss
Studies conducted back in the 1970s also connected acute zinc loss with taste and smell dysfunction, making it critical to determine how to increase zinc for patients with poor diets.
As these are some of the symptoms experienced with COVID-19, there are researchers today who suggest that a zinc deficiency may play a role in these effects of the coronavirus, such as reflected in an article published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in January 2021.
Zinc deficiency causes
People following a vegan or vegetarian diet may be even more at risk of a diet-related zinc deficiency due to plant-based foods containing certain compounds that have the potential to inhibit zinc absorption. If a person has a low protein intake, this can also have an impact as protein helps the body absorb zinc.
Although rare, zinc deficiency can occur as a result of medical conditions such as a malabsorption syndrome or acrodermatitis enteropathica — a zinc metabolism disorder — according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. Someone who has drank alcohol heavily and for a long period of time might also experience issues when determining how to increase zinc for patients.
A number of medical conditions have been associated with low zinc levels. They include sickle cell disease, kidney disease, HIV or AIDS, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Signs of a zinc deficiency
Because zinc deficiency can create a number of health issues, both mental and physical, recognizing when levels may be too low is the first step to correcting the problem. BMJ Best Practice indicates that some of the most common manifestations of zinc deficiency are:
- wounds that take longer to heal
- experiencing more infections or illnesses
- loss of appetite
- trouble tasting foods and drinks
- hair loss
- issues with fertility
Diagnosing low zinc levels
If a patient is suspected to have lower-than-healthy levels of zinc, their primary care provider when determining how to increase zinc for patients can order a blood test to know for sure. Depending on the results, additional actions may be recommended to help correct the deficiency.
More tests may also be ordered to help determine the root cause of the deficiency. If the patient has other medical issues, for instance, finding and treating them may help resolve low zinc levels.
How to increase zinc for patients
One way to correct a zinc deficiency is to add more zinc-rich foods to the diet. Oysters are the best source of zinc, supplying 673% of the recommended daily value according to NIH data. This recommended intake is 11 mg of zinc per day for adult males and 8 mg per day for adult females. Females who are pregnant or lactating need more, or 11 mg and 12 mg per day, respectively.
Other animal-based food sources high in zinc include beef, crab, lobster, and pork chop loin. Beans, legumes, seeds, and breakfast cereals fortified with this mineral can all increase zinc intake, making them good choices for patients following a plant-based diet.
Zinc can also be consumed in supplement or lozenge form. This enables patients to get enough of the mineral in their diet, even if the foods they eat aren’t supplying the needed amount.
It’s also important that patients know that taking a high amount of zinc can interfere with the absorption of copper. Also, if they take a high amount of iron, it can reduce zinc absorption. Finding a balance between these nutrients is key to ensuring that the body can receive and use each effectively.