Key Points

  • White Spots under nails
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Poor wound healing
  • Hair loss 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of taste

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌identified‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌factor‌ ‌for‌ ‌many‌ ‌enzymes‌ ‌responsible‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌synthesis,‌ ‌storage‌ ‌and‌ ‌release‌ ‌of‌ ‌insulin‌ ‌(1). ‌Increases‌ ‌in‌ ‌lean‌ ‌body‌ ‌mass‌ ‌while‌ ‌fat‌ ‌mass‌ ‌either‌ ‌remains‌ ‌stable‌ ‌or‌ ‌decreases,‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌degree‌ ‌of‌ ‌baseline‌ ‌zinc‌ ‌deficiency‌ ‌(2).‌

With‌ ‌this‌ ‌evidence‌ ‌it ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌shown‌ ‌that‌ ‌this‌ ‌ingredient‌ ‌is‌ ‌important‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌growth‌ ‌and‌ ‌development‌ ‌of‌ ‌body‌ ‌tissues‌ ‌as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌this‌ ‌a‌ ‌variety‌ ‌of‌ ‌biological‌ ‌processes‌ ‌including‌ ‌wound‌ ‌healing‌ ‌and‌ ‌muscle‌ ‌cramps‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌found (3).‌ ‌



Zinc deficiencies can occur when not consuming the recommended daily amount, (RDA) of 11mg for males or 8mg for females. 

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–6 months 2 mg* 2 mg*
7–12 months 3 mg 3 mg
1–3 years 3 mg 3 mg
4–8 years 5 mg 5 mg
9–13 years 8 mg 8 mg
14–18 years 11 mg 9 mg 12 mg 13 mg
19+ years 11 mg 8 mg 11 mg 12 mg

*Adequate intake (AI)

People with a Zinc deficiency can expreirince minor symptoms like white streaks and or spots underneath the nail, in addition to this the nails may become much weaker, (4). Wounds may also take longer to heal as well as certain skin conditions like rashes and skin irritation.

Other signs of zinc deficiency include a loss of taste, hair loss and impaired immune function (5). 


Therefore it is important to consume the recommended daily amount through natural food sources like red meat. Legumes, shellfish, nuts and seeds. Alternatively supplements can be of use if deficient in this area. 


1 ‌-‌ ‌Hashemipour,‌ ‌M.,‌ ‌Kelishadi,‌ ‌R.,‌ ‌Shapouri,‌ ‌J.,‌ ‌Sarrafzadegan,‌ ‌N.,‌ ‌Amini,‌ ‌M.,‌ ‌Tavakoli,‌ ‌N.,‌ ‌…‌ ‌&‌ ‌Poursafa,‌ ‌P.‌ ‌(2009).‌ ‌Effect‌ ‌of‌ ‌zinc‌ ‌supplementation‌ ‌on‌ ‌insulin‌ ‌resistance‌ ‌and‌ ‌components‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌metabolic‌ ‌syndrome‌ ‌in‌ ‌prepubertal‌ ‌obese‌ ‌children.‌ ‌Hormones‌ ‌(Athens),‌ ‌8(4),‌ ‌279-285.‌

2 ‌-‌ ‌Prasad,‌ ‌A.‌ ‌S.‌ ‌(1991).‌ ‌Discovery‌ ‌of‌ ‌human‌ ‌zinc‌ ‌deficiency‌ ‌and‌ ‌studies‌ ‌in‌ ‌an‌ ‌experimental‌ ‌human‌ ‌model.‌ ‌The‌ ‌American‌ ‌journal‌ ‌of‌ ‌clinical‌ ‌nutrition,‌ ‌53(2),‌ ‌403-412.‌ ‌

3 ‌-‌ ‌Kugelmas,‌ ‌M.‌ ‌(2000).‌ ‌Preliminary‌ ‌observation:‌ ‌oral‌ ‌zinc‌ ‌sulfate‌ ‌replacement‌ ‌is‌ ‌effective‌ ‌in‌ ‌treating‌ ‌muscle‌ cramps‌ ‌in‌ ‌cirrhotic‌ ‌patients.‌ ‌‌Journal‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌American‌ ‌College‌ ‌of‌ ‌Nutrition‌,‌ ‌‌19‌(1),‌ ‌13-15.‌ 

4 – Pfeiffer, C. C., & Jenney, E. H. (1974). Fingernail white spots: possible zinc deficiency. JAMA, 228(2), 157-157.

5 – Dardenne, M. (2002). Zinc and immune function. European journal of clinical nutrition, 56(3), S20-S23.