Zinc deficiency linked to 'impaired vision' warns health body – five best foods to eat

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Zinc performs a number of important roles in the body. Harvard Health explains: “It is a major player in the creation of DNA, growth of cells, building proteins, healing damaged tissue, and supporting a healthy immune system.” It’s little wonder, then, that zinc deficiency has an adverse impact on the body.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), “impaired vision”, such as poor night vision and cloudy cataracts, has been linked to zinc deficiency.

AOA explains: “Zinc plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.”

Other signs include:

  • Growth retardation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired immune function.

“In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhoea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions,” warns the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

READ MORE: Low zinc symptoms: The eight peculiar signs on the body indicating you’re lacking

If you take zinc supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful.

The Department of Health and Social Care says: “Do not take more than 25mg of zinc supplements a day unless advised to by a doctor.”

Why is zinc supplementation potentially dangerous?

According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, excess zinc can interfere with the absorption of iron and copper.

“High doses can also cause nausea and even vomiting,” warns the health body.

It continues: “Therefore it is important not to take supplemental zinc unless it is known that the diet is low in foods containing zinc or a zinc deficiency is confirmed.

“A registered dietitian can help to evaluate one’s diet and determine if zinc intake is low.”

Are you at risk of zinc deficiency?

People with gastrointestinal and other diseases are at risk of falling short of zinc.

The NIH explains: “Gastrointestinal surgery and digestive disorders (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel syndrome) can decrease zinc absorption and increase endogenous zinc losses primarily from the gastrointestinal tract and, to a lesser extent, from the kidney.”

According to the health body, other diseases associated with zinc deficiency include malabsorption syndrome, chronic liver disease, chronic renal disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, malignancy, and other chronic illnesses.

“Chronic diarrhoea also leads to excessive loss of zinc,” it warns.

Other risk factors include:

  • Vegetarians
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • Older infants who are exclusively breastfed
  • Alcoholics.


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