Zinc is a mineral that your body uses for fighting off infections and producing cells. It’s important for healing injuries and creating DNA, the genetic blueprint in all of your cells. If you’re not getting enough zinc in your diet, you may have a number of unusual side effects.
Zinc helps with a number of different processes in the body.
It is considered an antioxidant, which helps protect cells from oxidative damage.
Zinc plays a beneficial role in the immune system and in wound healing.
A zinc deficiency can cause the immune system to be underactive or overactive.
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Low zinc symptoms can include:
- Loss of or diminished smell and taste
- Poor wound healing
- Hair loss
- Roughening of skin/rashes
- Low libido (men)
- Canker sores
- Deformed nails.
Zinc deficiency is linked to a lowered immune system.
If someone starts catching colds or infections more easily, this could be a sign of a zinc deficiency, said the Center for Family Medicine.
The health site added: “Additionally, evidence shows that when someone takes zinc within 24 hours of the start of cold symptoms, zinc can shorten the length of the cold.
“Zinc also supports healthy skin and proper blood clotting. A wound that won’t heal can be another sign of zinc deficiency.
“Additionally, unexplained hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency.”
Zinc is found in many multivitamin supplements. It’s also found in some cold medicines, though you shouldn’t take cold medicine if you’re not sick.
You can also buy supplements that contain only zinc.
If you’re using supplements to boost the amount of zinc in your body, be careful. Zinc can interact with some antibiotics, arthritis medications, and diuretics.
Foods to help enrich zinc levels include:
- Red meat
- Wheat germ
- Wild rice
For vegetarians it might be more difficult to get the amount of zinc you need from the foods you eat.
- Baked beans
- Almonds as alternative sources of zinc.
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