Severe zinc deficiency is rare and usually congenital. Milder zinc deficiency is usually acquired and is common in older people.
Manifestations of zinc deficiency may be subtle and can affect many organ systems. Delayed wound healing, impaired taste, loss of appetite, hair loss, fertility issues, and increased susceptibility to infection are common manifestations.
Plasma or serum zinc levels are useful in the evaluation of patients with suspected zinc deficiency. Milder forms of zinc deficiency may not be detected in plasma or serum tests, but supplementation may still be considered for patients with typical symptoms.
In most cases, standard oral zinc supplementation leads to increased zinc levels and amelioration of symptoms.
Zinc supplementation is generally safe, although acute toxicity with high doses may lead to adverse changes in immune, iron, copper, and cholesterol status, as well as to potential genito-urinary problems.
Zinc deficiency is a lack of sufficient zinc to maintain optimal health, and may have genetic, nutritional, or metabolic aetiologies. Zinc is a key micronutrient important in growth and development, immune function, taste, smell, wound healing, protein synthesis, and maintenance of skin and hair.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Harvard Medical School
Director of Clinical Research
The Celiac Center
DL declares that he has no competing interests.
Assistant Professor for low molecular weight immune regulators
Institute of Immunology
RWTH Aachen University
HH has been reimbursed by Kohler Pharma, the manufacturer of UNIZINK, for attending a symposium and has received a fee for speaking at that symposium. HH is an author of a number of references cited in this monograph.
Professor of Medicine
Baylor University Medical Center
AF declares that he has no competing interests.
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