What is Zinc?

Zinc is a mineral found in the earth that is an essential nutrient for animals and plants, Zinc including humans.  It is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body behind iron.  The average person has between 1.5g and 2.5g of Zinc present.1  The body does not have a reservoir of Zinc stored; thus, we must continuously consume Zinc from food.

Why is Zinc part of my treatment plan?

Studies have shown that Zinc can improve hair growth in Alopecia2 and that low Zinc levels are associated with poor treatment response.3

What are the food sources of Zinc?

Zinc is most abundant in animal sources like fish, poultry, and beef.  Approximately 186% more Zinc is found in animal sources versus plant sources.1  Plant sources of Zinc are not absorbed as well because of anti-nutrients such as phytates.

How does one become Zinc deficient?

Deficiencies in Zinc are common amongst vegetarians or those who are heavily plant-based.  Other reasons include genetics, excess iron or copper intake (compete for absorption), chronic diarrhea, medications (ace inhibitors, antacids, diuretics), excess alcohol intake, and bariatric surgery.

What are the symptoms associated with Zinc deficiency?

Erectile dysfunction, diarrhea, alopecia, nail discoloration/distortion, low testosterone, & decreased immunity are associated with deficiencies in Zinc.4

What does Zinc do in the body?

Zinc has several different functions inside the body.  It is a necessary co-factor for over 300 different reactions in the body.  Zinc is essential for our immune system, hair growth,  protein metabolism, synthesis of red blood cells (heme), DNA synthesis, gene expression (30% of Zinc is in the nucleus), growth and development, reproductive hormones, digestion, antioxidant function, detoxification, the transport of Vitamin A, the communication between nerve cells, carbohydrate metabolism through proper insulin signaling, moderating inflammation, lipid balance, and bone health.5

Does Zinc have adverse effects?

Zinc is well tolerated at doses below 40 mg daily.  Reported adverse events include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea & vomiting, and a metallic taste.6 


  1. Lim KH, Riddell LJ, Nowson CA, Booth AO, Szymlek-Gay EA. Iron and zinc nutrition in the economically-developed world: a review. Nutrients. 2013;5(8):3184-3211. Published 2013 Aug 13. doi:10.3390/nu5083184
  2. Park H, Kim CW, Kim SS, Park CW. The therapeutic effect and the changed serum zinc level after zinc supplementation in alopecia areata patients who had a low serum zinc level. Ann Dermatol. 2009;21(2):142-146. doi:10.5021/ad.2009.21.2.142
  3. Kondrakhina IN, Verbenko DA, Zatevalov AM, Gatiatulina ER, Nikonorov AA, Deryabin DG, Kubanov AA. Plasma Zinc Levels in Males with Androgenetic Alopecia as Possible Predictors of the Subsequent Conservative Therapy’s Effectiveness. Diagnostics. 2020; 10(5):336. https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics10050336
  4. Saper RB, Rash R. Zinc: an essential micronutrient. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79(9):768-772.
  5. Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. J Res Med Sci. 2013;18(2):144-157.
Institute of Medicine (U.S.). DRI: Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.