Here's a mineral you definitely don't want to be low in. Zinc is really important for your health, as it improves bone, hair, and nail growth, and it keeps your immune system high. (Especially great during colder temperatures or allergy season, too.)
And, get this: It can even help get rid of bad body odor. So, it might banish that sweaty stink from socks and armpits post-workout.
But, what are the signs you might actually be deficient in this essential nutrient? Here's what you can expect, and no, it's not pretty.
Trying to get pregnant but not having any luck? While infertility can be related to many other issues, like genetics, inflammatory disease, and other sources of malnutrition or over-exercise, low levels of zinc can also lead to infertility, explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, Fertility Nutrition Expert at BumpstoBaby.com and co-author of Fertility Foods (which was just released!).
Of course, get your levels tested with a doctor to make sure low zinc is the culprit, here. And, if so, eat more foods rich in zinc, like shellfish and oysters, leafy greens, and pumpkin seeds. A tip? Try these clams with herbed butter for dinner tonight.
Zinc will strengthen hair and keep it taut and thick, so when you're not eating enough in the diet, you're likely to notice dead and sparse ends, he explains.
Check your hairbrush. If there's tons in there (and you're regularly cleaning it), it could be a sign.
Getting Sick Often
This isn't just a common cold due to weather changes or being in a school or college for a period of time.
This is where those "coldeeze" lozenges come in handy, not because they are a hard candy, but because they are packed with zinc, which has been shown to boost immunity and fight infection.
So, you'll want to load up on zinc if you're sick, but also just eat it more regularly or take a supplement to avoid getting those flu-like symptoms and fatigue. (And, a few other ways to naturally boost your immune system.)
Similar to hair growth, zinc is necessary for healthy nails, says Maggie Moon, RD, MS, and author of the MIND Diet.
And, here's a simple nail check to examine those levels: If there are white spots on your fingernails, it could mean you're not getting enough zinc. And, a tip? These spots are likely to appear on the index and pinky fingers of your dominant hand.
Loss Of Appetite & Taste
Get this: You might not be able to taste that pesto portobello burger, and that'd be a shame, amirite?
Turns out, if you're low in zinc, you might lose your appetite, says Moon, as well as your taste bud senses, where you're experiencing "taste abnormalities." Meaning: Food won't taste as good as it should, and you'll feel less hungry during the day, which can set you up for malnutrition in other areas, too.
To prevent this, eat more zinc foods or supplement. Maintaining a regular eating schedule and getting your required nutrients is super important for your health and wellbeing.