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Definition of Zinc deficiency

Deficiency, zinc: According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Recommended Dietary Allowance of zinc is 8 milligrams per day for women age 19+ years and 11 milligrams per day for men age 19+ years. Food sources of zinc include meat including liver, eggs, seafood, nuts and cereal.

Deficiency of zinc is associated with short stature, anemia, increased pigmentation of skin (hyperpigmentation), enlarged liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly), impaired gonadal function (hypogonadism), impaired wound healing, and immune deficiency.

In a genetic disease called acrodermatitis enteropathica, there is impaired zinc uptake from the intestine. The condition is characterized by the simultaneous presence of dermatitis (skin inflammation) and diarrhea. The skin on the cheeks, elbows and knees and the tissues about the mouth and anus are inflamed. There is balding of the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes. Wound healing is delayed. And there are recurrent bacterial and fungal infections due to immune deficiency. The key laboratory finding is an abnormally low blood zinc level reflecting the impaired zinc uptake. Treatment with zinc is curative.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018
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