Do You Have A Zinc Deficiency?

The American Media regularly reports on the low levels of Vitamin D and Magnesium deficiency.  While those are important, another mineral is almost as critical and is often overlooked. Zinc.

What is Zinc?

WebMD explains:

Zinc is a mineral. It is called an "essential trace element" because very small amounts of zinc are necessary for human health. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet. describes what are some symptoms of zinc deficiency?

When you’re zinc deficient, your body can’t produce healthy, new cells. This leads to symptoms such as:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • wounds that won’t heal
  • lack of alertness
  • decreased sense of smell and taste
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • open sores on the skin

What does the body use zinc for?

WebMD explains:

Zinc is used for boosting the immune system, improving growth and heath in zinc deficient infants and children, for treating the common cold and recurrent ear infections, the flu, upper respiratory tract infections, preventing and treating lower respiratory infections, swine flu, bladder infections, ringing in the ears, and severe head injuries. It is also used for malaria and other diseases caused by parasites.


Some people use zinc for an eye disease called macular degeneration, for night blindness, and for cataracts. It is also used for asthma; diabetes and associated nerve damage; high blood pressure; AIDS/HIV, AIDS/HIV-related pregnancy complications; HIV-related diarrhea and AIDS diarrhea-wasting syndrome, AIDS-related infections, and high levels of bilirubin in blood (hyperbilirubinemia).


It is also taken by mouth for anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, depression after pregnancy (postpartum depression), dementia, dry mouth, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blunted sense of taste (hypogeusia), hepatic encephalopathy, alcohol-related liver disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, canker sores, stomach ulcers, leg ulcers, and bed sores.


Some men take zinc by mouth for male fertility problems and enlarged prostate, as well as erectile dysfunction (ED).


Zinc is taken by mouth for osteoporosis, cysts on the ovaries, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, warts, and muscle cramps in people with liver disease. It is also used for sickle cell disease, itching, rosacea, hair loss, psoriasis, eczema, acne, a blood disorder called thalassemia, Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome, Hansen's disease, and cystic fibrosis.


It is also taken by mouth for cancer prevention, including esophageal cancer, colon and rectal cancer, stomach cancer, brain cancer, head and neck cancer recurrence, nasal and throat cancer recurrence, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Zinc is used by mouth to prevent inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract, chemotherapy-related complications, anemia, pregnancy-related complications including iron deficiency, vitamin A deficiency (taken with vitamin A), seizures, arsenic poisoning, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), clogged arteries, leukemia, burns, diaper rash, leprosy, and skin lesions caused by leishmania infection.


Some athletes use zinc by mouth for improving athletic performance and strength.


What depletes the body of zinc?

Dr. explains:

When we have poor blood sugar signaling due to a diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates we are unable to adequately absorb zinc. Individuals with leaky gut syndrome often will develop a zinc deficiency from poor absorption.

If you are questioning if you are consuming too much sugar, read my articles, How Much Sugar Do You Consume? And Do You Realize How Much Sugar Your Children Are Consuming?

How can you tell if you are zinc deficient?   

You can tell if you’re deficient by performing the the zinc tally test. Purchase a zinc tally test at your local pharmacy or store. Pour 10ml (about 2 teaspoons)  in a glass. Pour it in your mouth but do not drink it right away. Swish it around for at least 10 seconds then swallow it. There are 3 outcomes.

The three outcomes

  1. It tastes sweet. Interpretation: You are severely zinc deficient.
  2. It tastes like water. Interpretation: You are slightly zinc deficient.
  3. It tastes like you just bit into an iron rail.  Interpretation: You are not zinc deficient.


At a seminar I attended, 20 or so trainers partook in the zinc tally test. We all lined up, took the children’s Dixie cup filled with the clear liquid and poured it in our mouths. The speaker operated the timer, then after 10 seconds informed us to swallow.  What followed after was interesting and comical. About a third of the trainers committed how delicious the drink was and they could go for some more. Another third of the trainers said it was similar to water. The final third of trainers immediately started to gag and reaching for their water bottles to get this awful taste out of their mouth. Napkins were even used to wipe their tongues off.

What made this test so interesting was there was an variety of sizes of trainers there. Despite 1/3 of the trainers were shredded (4-6% body fat for men and 9-13% for women), some of those trainers were deficient in zinc and some were not. Looking healthy or not was NOT an indicator if you needed zinc. It was also true with the trainers who were in visual okay shape and the trainers who were not in visual good shape.  

When I drank the water, it just wasn’t quite right. It had a very slight metallic taste to it but nothing that would cause me to feel like I bit into an iron rail.  As a result, I am now taking a zinc supplement every day.

What can you do?

Get your zinc levels checked by doing your own zinc tally test. You don't need much to drink, just 10ml. You will know 10 seconds later if you are deficient in zinc. Zinc may be the cause of a whole host of issues going on caused by excessive sugars and leaky gut syndrome. Zinc may be that final puzzle piece to getting yourself back to optimal health.

Steven Zahn

ACE + NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

Youth & High School Track & Football Coach

Health and Fitness writer for

For information on 1on1 Personal Training or Nutrition Coaching, feel free to contact me at

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