Zinc Deficiency Explained

By Marcie Vaske, MS, LN
June 20, 2017

Do you always feel like you need a sweet after a meal? Do you still get the dreaded acne? Do you feel like you are sick all the time? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you may be zinc deficient. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nearly 73% of all Americans do not get the recommended daily allowance of zinc. This deficiency is due to depleted soils, refining of grains and overconsumption of calcium supplements. (Calcium competes with zinc when taken together).

Who needs zinc?

In a word, everyone. Truly, young, old and in between, everyone requires sufficient amounts of zinc. It’s a mineral that our bodies can’t store; therefore, we need a constant supply of zinc in our diet.

Zinc Can Help With …

Immune Function

Research tells us zinc affects our immune system in multiple ways. It increases our T-cells, which are needed to fight off illnesses. Zinc boosts our immunity to help fight viral and bacterial infections. If you are deficient in zinc you may be more susceptible to the colds, the flu or any number of infections.

Healthy Skin & Hair

Zinc supports good skin, hair and even wound healing by supporting the mucosal membranes.  It is known that when zinc levels decrease acne severity will increase. A recent study published in 2010 showed an 80% reduction in acne when using a zinc supplement with high bioavailability.

Poor Appetite

Zinc has also been found to play a role in decreased appetite. We see this often in people with anorexia nervosa and the elderly. When there is low nutrition intake, levels of zinc will often become low which inhibits the appetite so people don’t feel hungry, resulting in further decreased food consumption. 

Sources of Zinc

Podcast_Beef.jpgHow can we increase our zinc levels? At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we believe food comes first. Eating a balanced meal plan throughout the day that incorporates foods such as grass-fed beef, dark meat chicken, turkey, pork and seafood like crab, lobster and oysters is a good start. Oysters are the highest natural source of zinc with 10 times the level of zinc of the next highest source, beef. Other great sources are nuts and seeds, beans and full-fat yogurt and dark chocolate.

Now, if you feel you need a little more help with your zinc intake, there is always zinc supplementation. If you choose this route, know that a little goes a long way, meaning you should only supplement with 50mg a day or less to be sure you do not throw off copper and iron levels in the body. It’s also important to find a pharmaceutical grade supplement that your body can actually use. Of course everybody is different, so if you’d like more information we suggest making an appointment with one of our nutritionists to learn more about zinc deficiencies and what amount would be best for you.


  1. Am j. cli. nut 2005 Feb 81 (7) 541-54
  2. Am soc. cli nut 1998.  Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection.
  3. Sardan, K. & Garg, V.  2010.  An observational study of methionine-bound zinc with antioxidants for mild to moderate acne vulgaris

About the author

Marcie truly understands the healing power of nutrition having once suffered from anorexia, obsessive-compulsive exercising and anxiety, all of which led to chronic and complex digestive issues for her. She credits good nutrition in playing a critical role in her recovery from anorexia, diminishing anxiety, and helping to heal her digestive tract. She joined Nutritional Weight & Wellness in 2011, completed her M.S. in clinical nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, and is a licensed nutritionist through the Minnesota Board of Dietetics and Nutrition.

View all posts by Marcie Vaske, MS, LN


Sheila jackson
I am a vegetarian, I crave sweets after meals. And I am always cold, and i am 59 years old. Do you think i need more zinc
July 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm


Adding zinc could definitely be beneficial for those symptoms. It might be worth getting your thyroid checked to see if that's causing you to be cold all the time.

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