A zinc deficiency in the body can be caused by three general reasons. The first is the most obvious, the individual simply has not eaten enough zinc in their diet. The second reason for a zinc deficiency would be if there is some problem with the body’s ability to absorb zinc through the intestines once it has been ingested. Finally, there are certain diseases and certain conditions that require the body to use excess zinc, which produces many of the same symptoms as the other causes of zinc deficiency.
A zinc deficiency will cause many problems throughout the body including weakness and the wasting away of body tissue. A zinc deficiency will also cause problems with your senses of sight and smell and will have a negative effect on your ability to remember things. There are two signs major signs that will pinpoint the problem as being zinc deficiency. The first is the degradation of hair quality. Hair will become brittle and thin and fall out easily. The second major sign is white bands that appear on the fingernails.
The nutritional causes of a zinc deficiency are usually associated with countries where meat is not readily available. Generally the easiest way to obtain zinc is to eat high protein foods such as beef and chicken. Beans are another excellent source of zinc as well as protein for areas where meat is prohibitively expensive, or for vegetarians. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are another option. It is important to note that the body’s ability to maintain zinc levels is dependent on Vitamins A and D. Therefore, a deficiency in either of those two vitamins will lead to a deficiency in zinc levels.
There are many diseases, mostly associated with a viral or bacterial infection of the small intestine that can cause a zinc deficiency. The bacteria or virus simply causes the cells lining the small intestines to no longer be able to absorb zinc, and the zinc instead leaves the body in the feces. Diarrhea is also another major cause of zinc deficiency. Unfortunately, chronic diarrhea is usually found in the same countries where meat isn’t readily available, which doubles the problem. Not only are the people not eating enough zinc, but the zinc they do eat usually leaves the body in diarrhea before the small intestines have time to absorb it.
The final reason for a zinc deficiency is because of diseases or even normal body states such as pregnancy or menstruation that cause the body to demand more zinc then is generally required. When this occurs, short term deficiency symptoms can occur.