Zinc is an essential trace element that plays a number of roles in your body. But beware, because you might already be suffering from zinc deficiency right now. There is startling evidence in a number of carefully controlled studies that serious nutrient content – by the time food reaches your table – could already be depleted.
Read on to find out how this happens – and what you can do to spot zinc deficiency symptoms early on.
The Effects of Conventional Farming and Overcooking
Certain estimates report that nutrient value lost could be as high as 50 percent. There are a number of factors at play, but the primary one would probably be conventional farming methods, which rely heavily on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals deplete the soil of nutrients that must be absorbed by plants in order to be transferred to your body.
Another potential reason is cooking – or how you prepare your food. In the case of most foods, cooking seriously impairs nutrient value. Overcooking is especially dangerous, and many people do it unwittingly to their supposed “nourishment.”
Note that you may steam, poach, or boil your food and still do not lose much of the important vitamins and minerals present in it. But there are specific cooking techniques – including frying, microwaving, and charbroiling – that may deplete these nutrients and put your health at risk of various deficiencies.
Compounding the problem is that you may not be consuming the right amount of nutrients after all. The standard Western diet of processed food makes it easy for valuable nutrients to be destroyed, making supplementation a rather sound and practical step to take.
When Is It Time to Take a Zinc Supplement?
There are common signs of low zinc levels to beware of, including lack of appetite, occasional moodiness, and less keen sense of taste or smell. There are certain groups prone to being deficient, too, like vegetarians – zinc is available mostly in animal products.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is only prudent to contact your physician for you to be evaluated.
There are a variety of zinc deficiency tests available, but not all of them offer accurate results. Some examples of tests usually taken are:
- Oral taste test – A quick 10-second test that can be accomplished at home or in the office of your healthcare provider.
- Hair test – More often used by doctors of natural medicine.
- Serum test – The simplest way of determining deficiency, but affected by factors that can cause inaccuracies.
- Plasma test– Main lab test performed to determine zinc status, and can be insensitive
to marginal deficiencies.
- Tolerance test – Measures the change in plasma zinc after taking zinc orally.
There is truly a multitude of tests available out there to determine your zinc status. Some are more accurate than others, so it is only best to talk to your healthcare provider to get the right test for you.
No less than a high-quality zinc supplement should be your protection if you cannot get enough zinc from your food. Be on the lookout for potential pitfalls regarding not only zinc but also other nutritional supplements on the market today.
First, make sure that the zinc supplement is backed by a reputable manufacturer. There are solid examples of top-quality assurance safeguards and independent, objective lab testing that you can look for.
Second, investigate on the efficacy and stability of the zinc formula, not just what is stated on the label. Good supplements, for instance, should be free of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Lastly, stick to a dosage of less than 40 milligrams per day, which is the recommended adult upper limit. Remember that there is the potential for adverse side effects present at higher dosages. If you must take higher dosages, consult your doctor.
Margie Oasis is a health blogger who advocates a diet of whole, raw, unprocessed foods. She also educates her readers about certain nutritional deficiency – most recently, how to spot zinc deficiency symptoms.