Zinc Deficiency Nails: Causes, Symptoms, and approved Treatment


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Zinc deficiency is a common nutritional problem that occurs when the body does not receive an adequate amount of zinc. This vital mineral is essential in various bodily functions, including immune system function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and growth and development. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for zinc deficiency, and provide you with practical tips to prevent and manage this condition effectively.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency refers to a state in which the body lacks sufficient zinc to meet its physiological needs. This deficiency can occur due to various reasons, such as inadequate dietary intake, impaired absorption, increased zinc requirements, or excessive zinc loss. 

Let us explore each aspect in detail:

Inadequate Dietary Intake

A primary cause of this deficiency is a diet that lacks zinc-rich foods. Zinc can be found in various sources, including meat, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Individuals who follow restrictive diets, such as vegetarians or vegans, may be at a higher risk of zinc deficiency if they do not carefully plan their meals to include alternative zinc sources.

Impaired Absorption

Even if an individual consumes an adequate amount of zinc, factors that interfere with its absorption can lead to deficiency. Certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, can impair the absorption of nutrients, including zinc. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption, as well as a high intake of dietary fiber, can interfere with zinc absorption.

Increased Zinc Requirements

There are certain life stages and circumstances that increase the body’s demand for zinc. For instance, during periods of rapid growth, such as adolescence or pregnancy, zinc requirements are elevated. Breastfeeding women also need to ensure an adequate zinc intake, as breast milk contains zinc which is crucial for the infant’s growth and development. Furthermore, individuals with certain chronic conditions, such as sickle cell disease or diabetes, may have increased zinc needs.

Excessive Zinc Loss

Excessive zinc loss can occur due to various factors, including diarrhea, kidney diseases, or certain medications. Chronic diarrhea, especially when accompanied by malabsorption, can lead to significant zinc loss. Kidney diseases can impair zinc reabsorption, resulting in increased urinary zinc excretion. Additionally, some medications, such as diuretics or certain types of antacids, can promote zinc loss.

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency can manifest in a variety of symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. It is important to note that these symptoms can be non-specific and may overlap with other health conditions. Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with zinc deficiency:

  1. Insufficiency of zinc: Zinc plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Thus, a deficiency in this mineral can lead to frequent infections, delayed wound healing, and increased susceptibility to illnesses.
  2. Skin problems: Zinc deficiency can contribute to various skin issues, including dryness, dermatitis, acne, and slow wound healing. It can also lead to the development of stretch marks and hair loss.
  3. Growth and development issues: Insufficient zinc intake during critical growth periods can impair growth and development in children. It may result in delayed sexual maturation, stunted growth, and poor cognitive function.
  4. Digestive problems: Zinc is involved in the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes, so a deficiency can lead to symptoms such as loss of appetite, taste changes, diarrhea, and poor nutrient absorption.
  5. Mental health disturbances: Zinc deficiency has been associated with mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. It may also contribute to cognitive impairment and learning difficulties.
  6. Impaired fertility: Zinc is crucial for reproductive health in both males and females. A deficiency can lead to decreased sperm count and motility in men and menstrual irregularities, impaired ovulation in women.
  7. Poor night vision: Zinc is essential for the production of a pigment called melanin, which is involved in maintaining good vision, particularly in low-light conditions. Zinc deficiency can result in poor night vision and an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

These are just a few examples of the symptoms that can occur in the presence of zinc deficiency. If you suspect you might have this deficiency, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

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Treatment of Zinc Deficiency

The treatment of zinc deficiency involves addressing the underlying cause and increasing zinc intake to restore normal levels. Here are some treatment options that healthcare professionals may consider:

Dietary Changes

One of the primary approaches to treating zinc deficiency is through dietary modifications. Incorporating zinc-rich foods into your daily meals can help replenish the body’s zinc stores. Good dietary sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dairy products. If you follow a restricted diet, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is crucial to ensure you are obtaining adequate zinc from alternative sources or consider zinc supplementation.

Zinc Supplementation

In cases of severe deficiency or when dietary modifications are insufficient, healthcare professionals may recommend zinc supplementation. Zinc supplements are available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, lozenges, and liquid solutions. It is necessary to follow the dosage instructions given by your healthcare provider and avoid excessive zinc intake, as it can lead to adverse effects.

Treating Underlying Conditions

If an underlying medical condition is contributing to zinc deficiency, treating the condition itself is essential. For instance, individuals with digestive disorders may benefit from managing the underlying condition, which can improve nutrient absorption, including zinc.

Zinc Deficiency Nails: Sign and Symptoms

Zinc Deficiency Nails

A deficiency of Zinc can cause a noticeable effect on the nails. It can cause a number nail of problems in the body. Some of the common warning signs and symptoms of this deficiency are given below:

Brittle Nails: A deficiency of Zinc can make the nails easily breakable. Nails become weak and get split, easily peeled and chipped.

White spots: Insufficient levels of Zinc can cause white spots on the nails.

Slow growth: Deficiency of Zinc hamper the growth of nails.

Horizontal lines: You may also see horizontal lines on the nails due to deficiency of Zinc.

Inflammation and Redness: Deficiency of Zinc can also lead to development of Paronychia. It is a painful condition where we we can see redness and Inflammation arround the nails.

Changes in Nail shape: We may also notice change in the shape of the nails. In some cases it is more concave or spoon like this condition is known as Koilonychia.

If we see any of these warning signs we should immediately consult our healthcare professional for better evaluation and on-time treatment.


Zinc deficiency is a significant health concern that can lead to various complications if left untreated. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and exploring the available treatment options, you can take proactive steps to prevent and manage zinc deficiency effectively. Zinc is crucial for the immune system, wound healing, and growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. If you suspect you may have a zinc deficiency, it is necessary to talk to a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Can zinc deficiency affect the immune system?

Yes, zinc deficiency can impair immune system function, leading to increased susceptibility to infections and delayed wound healing.

Are there any risks associated with excessive zinc intake?

Yes, excessive zinc intake can lead to adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and copper deficiency. It’s important to follow dosage instructions.

Can this deficiency cause hair loss?

Yes, zinc deficiency can impair fertility in both men and women. It may contribute to decreased sperm count and motility in men, and menstrual irregularities in women.

Can zinc deficiency be diagnosed through a blood test?

Yes, a blood test can measure zinc levels in the body and help determine if zinc deficiency is present.

Can zinc supplements interact with medications?

Yes, certain drugs, such as antibiotics and diuretics, can interact with zinc supplements. All drugs must be disclosed to your healthcare provider.

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Hello! I am Sonia, I am a professional blogger. I have 10 years of experience in creating engrossing content. I have worked in different domains like E-commerce, IT, Medical, Fashion, Ayurvedic... I would appreciate if you help me grow with this blogging website.

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