5 Signs You Are Not Getting Enough Zinc

Poor memory, loss of appetite, hair loss, and diarrhea are some common symptoms of zinc deficiency. Learn from a nutritionist on how to increase your zinc intake.

By D Tejaswi
27 Sep 2022

About 30 per cent of people in South Asia are zinc-deficient, finds Statpearls. Research states that zinc deficiency is prominent in populations that consume diets that are rice dominant and primarily vegetarian. Since zinc cannot be stored in significant amounts in the body, you need to take it from the foods outside to maintain adequate levels.


“Insufficient dietary intake, nutrient absorption issues, alcoholism, genetic mutations, and old age are some of the common risk factors for zinc deficiency,” says Hyderabad-based head nutritionist for URlife, Dr Lakshmi Kilaru. “The recommended daily intake (RDI) of zinc is 11 mg for adult men and 8 mg for adult women. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume 11 and 12 mg per day.” Most people find it hard to meet this requirement on a regular basis. “Because zinc is an important mineral (after iron) for gene expression, enzymatic reactions, anti-inflammation, protein synthesis, wound healing, immune function, growth and development, you should make sure to eat foods that are high in zinc,” says Dr Kilaru. Here are some ways to recognise that you need to eat more foods that are rich in zinc.


Signs You Are Low On Zinc

  • You have a low appetite and are experiencing sudden weight loss

When you lack zinc, your body manipulates the levels of ghrelin and leptin, the satiety hormones, of your body. This leaves you with a lesser appetite and as a result, you may experience unintentional weight loss.


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  • Your wounds heal slowly

Zinc is needed to promote a specific antioxidant activity required to heal your wounds. And, when you lack this mineral, wound healing is delayed, explains Wound Repair and Regeneration, the journal.


  • You lack alertness and your memory is troubling you

Zinc plays an important role in synaptic transmission of information between brain cells and so, when you lack this mineral, there is decreased neurogenesis (the growth and development of nervous tissue) and impaired learning, and poor memory function, finds International Journal of Molecular Sciences.


  • You have a decreased sense of smell and taste

Zinc is an essential trace element that contributes to the active centre of approximately 300 enzymes, says Recent Patents on Food, Nutrition and Agriculture. And therefore when you lack this mineral, you are more prone to a variety of taste disorders. As such, often, patients with taste disorders are given medicines that include zinc, says the paper The role of zinc in treatment of taste disorders.


  • You suffer from diarrhea

In zinc deficiency, your gut is more susceptible to toxin-producing bacteria or pathogens that stimulate chloride secretion, producing diarrhea, explains the paper zinc and gastrointestinal disease.


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Foods High In Zinc

Include whole grains (quinoa, bajra, jowar, wheat bran, and ragi), meat, legumes, beans (rajma, chole, moong, urad dal), nuts (almonds, walnuts), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), dairy products (cheese, milk), eggs, shellfish and chicken turkey in your everyday diet.


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Here are various other food sources that are high in zinc.


Veg Sources Per 100g Non-Veg Sources Per 100g
Oyster Mushrooms 8.67 mg Oyster 7.35 mg
Gingelly seeds 8.59 mg Goat 4.55 mg
Sunflower seeds 7.07 mg Crab 3.7 mg
Cashew 5.34 mg Egg yolk 3.59 mg
Garden cress seeds 4.83 mg Chicken turkey 3.35 mg
Soybean 4.01 mg    
Chana dal 3.65 mg    
Lentils 3.61 mg    
Quinoa 3.3 mg    
Whole wheat 2.85 mg    
Bajra 2.76 mg    
Ragi 2.53 mg    


Zinc Supplements: What Do You Need To Know

Unless a medical condition hinders the absorption of zinc, you should easily reach the RDI for zinc through diet alone, says Dr Kilaru. However, zinc supplements are often recommended for people with or who are:

  • Gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease
  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Older infants who are exclusively breastfed
  • People with sickle cell anemia
  • People who are malnourished, including those with anorexia or bulimia
  • People with chronic kidney disease
  • People with excessive alcohol consumption


Note that the tolerable upper level for zinc is 40 mg per day. However, this does not apply to people with zinc deficiencies, who may need to take high-dose supplements, adds Dr Kilaru.






Anil 06 Oct 2022



Anil 06 Oct 2022



Anil 06 Oct 2022


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