What is zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency is rare and usually affects people who can’t absorb the nutrient because of digestive issues. People with liver and kidney disease are also at risk. 

Since zinc plays many vital roles in your body, a deficiency can affect many bodily functions, tissues, and organs. Zinc deficiency can affect skin, bones, and the digestive, reproductive, central nervous, and immune systems.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

  • Weak immune system
  • Slow wound healing
  • Loss of taste
  • Loss of smell
  • Poor appetite
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reproductive problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Slow growth

What causes a zinc deficiency?

  • A diet lacking in zinc-rich foods
  • Gastrointestinal surgery
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Following a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Excessive or prolonged diarrhea
  • Sepsis (a blood infection)
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding 
  • Following a vegan or vegetarian diet
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Further reading: Harvard School of Public Health, National Institutes of Health