Genetic Insights Into Your Zinc Levels

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Genetic Insights Into Your Zinc Levels

Date of Content: February 1, 2024
Written by: Jess Gayo
Reviewed by: Shinedip Kaur, MS


What is Zinc?

In the realm of essential minerals, zinc stands as a microscopic powerhouse with profound implications for human health and beyond. Discovered by Andreas Marggraf in 1746, this transition metal is denoted by the symbol Zn on the periodic table with the atomic number of 30. 

While its elemental properties may seem unassuming, zinc plays a pivotal role in numerous biological processes, earning it the status of an indispensable micronutrient. From immune system support to cellular growth and DNA synthesis, the influence of zinc extends far beyond its presence in galvanized coatings and batteries.

Zinc Levels

Where is Zinc Found?

Zinc, a vital trace element, is woven into the geological fabric of the planet. Primarily, zinc ore, known as sphalerite, is unearthed from sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rock formations. Notably, Australia and China top the list as major zinc producers, with extensive deposits in the McArthur River mine and the Yunnan province, respectively.

Oceanic expanses also harbor zinc, albeit in lower concentrations. Seawater contains approximately 0.005 to 0.03 parts per million of zinc, emphasizing its ubiquitous nature.

Additionally, soil serves as a reservoir for this essential element, enriching the earth with concentrations varying by geographical region. As plants absorb zinc from the soil, it enters the food chain, contributing to dietary intake for both humans and animals.

Understanding the diverse landscapes where zinc resides enriches our comprehension of its role in geological processes and its impact on the intricate web of life.

Does the Body Need Zinc?

The human body relies on zinc as a vital micronutrient, playing an instrumental role in a myriad of physiological processes. As an essential component of numerous enzymes, zinc is crucial for catalyzing biochemical reactions involved in cellular metabolism, immune function, and DNA synthesis.

This trace mineral is a linchpin for growth and development, particularly during periods of rapid cell division, like infancy and adolescence.

Zinc’s impact on immune function is noteworthy; it contributes to the activation of T lymphocytes, a key player in the immune response. Moreover, zinc serves as a guardian against oxidative stress, exhibiting antioxidant properties that help mitigate cellular damage. The central nervous system benefits from zinc’s presence, participating in neurotransmitter regulation and cognitive function.

While the body demands zinc for optimal functioning, it does not produce the mineral internally, necessitating external intake through diet or supplementation. Foods like meat, dairy, nuts, and legumes are rich sources of zinc.

Deficiencies can lead to impaired growth, weakened immune responses, and cognitive issues. Striking a balance in zinc intake is crucial for maintaining the intricate symphony of bodily functions that rely on this unassuming yet indispensable mineral.

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What Can Affect Zinc Levels?

Genetic Factors

A genome-wide association study analyzed genetic variations linked to blood copper, selenium, and zinc levels in Australian and UK cohorts. The study identified significant associations for each element, with specific genes playing crucial roles.

For zinc, three noteworthy regions were identified. Chromosome 8 harbors genes for zinc-containing enzymes called carbonic anhydrases, vital for carbon dioxide transport. Chromosome 15 includes genes like SCAMP5 and PPCDC, with the latter potentially influencing zinc levels through vitamin B5 metabolism.

On the X chromosome, genes like KLF8, ZXDA, and ZXDB are associated with zinc-finger proteins, influencing the expression of zinc-containing proteins.

Understanding these genetic links allows for personalized insights into zinc metabolism. It goes beyond traditional approaches, offering a nuanced understanding of your body’s needs.

Environmental Factors

Understanding the dynamics of zinc levels in the human body involves recognizing the influence of various environmental factors. From dietary choices to geographical location, these elements intricately shape zinc intake and absorption. Below are some environmental factors that can affect zinc levels in the human body.

  1. Dietary Intake: The primary source of zinc for the human body is dietary consumption. Variations in dietary habits directly impact zinc levels. Vegetarians and vegans may be at a higher risk of zinc deficiency as plant-based sources contain less bioavailable zinc compared to animal products. Conversely, excessive consumption of foods rich in phytates, such as whole grains and legumes, can hinder zinc absorption due to the mineral-binding properties of phytates.
  2. Geographical and Soil Variability: The zinc content in the soil directly influences the zinc concentration in crops. Geographical disparities in soil composition result in varying levels of zinc in food crops. Regions with zinc-deficient soil may yield produce with lower zinc content, impacting the dietary intake of the local population. This geographical variability is a critical factor in assessing the prevalence of zinc deficiency on a global scale.
  3. Water Quality: The mineral composition of water sources affects zinc intake. Drinking water from zinc-rich geological formations can contribute to daily zinc intake, especially in regions where groundwater is a significant source of drinking water. Conversely, water treatment processes may remove or add trace amounts of zinc, altering the overall intake. Understanding regional water quality is crucial in evaluating its contribution to zinc levels in the human body.
  4. Age and Life Stage: Zinc requirements fluctuate across different life stages. Infants, children, and pregnant or lactating women have increased zinc needs. Rapid growth, development, and fetal development demand higher zinc intake. Conversely, aging individuals may face challenges in zinc absorption due to changes in gastrointestinal function, potentially leading to inadequate zinc levels in the elderly.
  5. Gastrointestinal Health: The absorption of zinc occurs predominantly in the small intestine. Gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or other malabsorption disorders can compromise zinc absorption. Chronic gastrointestinal issues may result in increased zinc excretion or impaired absorption, impacting the overall zinc status in the body.
  6. Medications and Supplements: Certain medications and dietary supplements can influence zinc levels. Chronic use of antacids containing calcium carbonate or proton pump inhibitors may reduce zinc absorption. Conversely, zinc supplements, if not regulated appropriately, can lead to excessive zinc intake and potentially toxic levels.
  7. Infections and Inflammation: Inflammatory processes and infections trigger the release of zinc from cells as part of the immune response. While this is a natural defense mechanism, it can result in temporary decreases in circulating zinc levels. Chronic inflammation, as seen in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, may contribute to long-term alterations in zinc metabolism.

Understanding these environmental factors provides a comprehensive view of the complex interplay that determines zinc levels in the human body. By acknowledging these influences, healthcare professionals and individuals can make informed decisions to maintain optimal zinc status for overall health and well-being.

Is Zinc Good for the Skin?

Zinc plays a pivotal role in promoting skin health through its multifaceted contributions. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it an asset in managing various skin conditions, including acne. Zinc aids in regulating sebum production and inhibiting the growth of acne-causing bacteria, offering a comprehensive approach to acne management.

Furthermore, zinc supports wound healing by facilitating cell proliferation, collagen synthesis, and immune function. This makes it beneficial for addressing skin injuries, burns, and surgical incisions, expediting the recovery process.

In the realm of dermatology, zinc has demonstrated efficacy in treating conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects contribute to alleviating symptoms and mitigating the severity of these chronic skin disorders.

Additionally, zinc acts as an antioxidant, safeguarding the skin from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. This protective role extends to counteracting the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, making zinc a valuable element in sunscreens for preventing sun damage and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

While the benefits of zinc for the skin are evident, maintaining a balance is essential. Excessive zinc intake, whether through supplements or topical applications, can lead to adverse effects.

Therefore, incorporating zinc into a balanced skincare routine, either through dietary sources or carefully formulated topical products, can harness its scientifically supported advantages for optimal skin health.

Does Zinc Have Side Effects?

While zinc is crucial for various physiological functions, excessive intake can lead to adverse effects. Acute symptoms of zinc toxicity include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal cramps. Long-term consumption of excessively high zinc levels can impair immune function, disrupt copper absorption, and cause deficiencies in other essential minerals.

Chronic exposure to elevated zinc concentrations may lead to metal fume fever, a condition characterized by fever, chills, and respiratory distress, commonly observed in industrial settings where workers inhale zinc-containing fumes.

Topical application of zinc, often used in sunscreens and creams, is generally safe. However, some individuals may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions. Inhaling zinc oxide nanoparticles, especially in occupational settings, may pose respiratory risks.

As with any nutrient, moderation is key, and individuals with specific health conditions or those considering zinc supplementation should consult healthcare professionals to ensure optimal intake without compromising overall health.

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What is the Suggested Daily Intake of Zinc?

The recommended daily intake of zinc varies based on age, sex, and life stage. 

Adults: For adult males aged 19 years and above, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 11 mg per day, while adult females in the same age group require slightly less at 8 mg per day. 

Pregnant and Lactating Individuals: During pregnancy, the RDA increases to 11 mg, emphasizing the heightened need for zinc to support both maternal and fetal health. Lactating women have a higher RDA of 12 mg per day to meet the demands of breastfeeding.

Children: Children have different recommended levels: 2 mg for infants aged 7-12 months, 3 mg for children aged 1-3 years, 5 mg for those aged 4-8 years, and 8 mg for children aged 9-13 years.

These recommendations are established by health authorities such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and are intended to ensure adequate zinc intake for the normal growth, development, and maintenance of physiological functions. 

While these values serve as general guidelines, individual variations, dietary patterns, and health conditions may warrant adjustments. Individuals need to maintain a balanced diet with diverse zinc sources, including meat, dairy, nuts, and legumes, to meet their specific nutritional needs.

What are the Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency and Zinc Overdose?

Taking the right amount of zinc every day can help lessen your chances of developing zinc deficiency or going into zinc overdose. Should you constantly lack or exceed zinc intake, visit a healthcare professional if symptoms arise. Some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency and zinc overdose are listed below.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

  • Impaired Growth and Development: Zinc is crucial for cellular growth and division. Inadequate zinc levels can result in stunted growth, delayed sexual maturation, and developmental issues, particularly in children.
  • Weakened Immune Function: Zinc plays a pivotal role in the immune response. Deficient individuals may experience more frequent infections, prolonged illnesses, and difficulty recovering from infections.
  • Skin Disorders: Skin manifestations include dermatitis, eczema, and hair loss. These symptoms are attributed to the role of zinc in skin health, immune function, and wound healing.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Zinc deficiency can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and impaired absorption of nutrients, contributing to a cycle of malnutrition.
  • Impaired Cognitive Function: Zinc is involved in neurotransmitter regulation, and its deficiency may result in impaired cognitive function, affecting memory and concentration.
  • Reproductive Issues: In both men and women, zinc deficiency can impact fertility. In men, it may lead to reduced sperm quality, while women may experience menstrual irregularities.
  • Loss of Appetite: Zinc deficiency is associated with a diminished sense of taste and smell, leading to a decreased appetite and potential weight loss.

Zinc Overdose Symptoms

  • Nausea and Vomiting: Acute zinc toxicity can lead to gastrointestinal distress, with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.
  • Lowered Immune Function: Paradoxically, excessive zinc intake can suppress immune function. This can result in increased susceptibility to infections and a compromised immune response.
  • Copper Deficiency: High zinc levels can interfere with copper absorption, leading to copper deficiency. Symptoms include anemia, fatigue, and neurological issues.
  • Gastrointestinal Disruption: Chronic zinc overdose may cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms often prompt individuals to reduce zinc intake.
  • Headache and Dizziness: Neurological symptoms, including headache and dizziness, can occur with zinc overdose. These symptoms may subside upon reducing zinc intake.
  • Impaired Iron Absorption: Excessive zinc can inhibit iron absorption, contributing to iron deficiency anemia. This is particularly relevant in populations where iron intake is already a concern.
  • Metal Fume Fever: Inhalation of high levels of zinc-containing fumes, often in industrial settings, can cause metal fume fever. Symptoms include fever, chills, and respiratory distress.

Balancing zinc intake is crucial to prevent both deficiency and toxicity. Consulting healthcare professionals for guidance on appropriate zinc levels, especially when considering supplementation, is essential to maintaining optimal health.

How to Maintain Adequate Levels of Zinc

Maintaining adequate levels of zinc is paramount for overall health, given its integral role in numerous physiological processes. A balanced approach, incorporating dietary choices, supplementation when necessary, and mindful lifestyle habits, can ensure optimal zinc levels.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to achieving and sustaining adequate zinc intake.

Diverse Diet

Embrace a diet rich in zinc-containing foods. Animal sources like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy provide highly bioavailable forms of zinc. Plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains contribute to overall zinc intake. Varied dietary choices help mitigate the impact of potential inhibitors like phytates found in some plant foods, promoting effective zinc absorption.

Consideration of Bioavailability

Be mindful of zinc bioavailability, as not all forms of zinc in food are equally absorbable. Animal sources typically provide zinc in a more readily absorbable form compared to plant sources. Cooking methods, such as soaking and fermenting, can enhance the bioavailability of zinc in certain plant foods.

Avoid Excessive Iron Intake

High iron intake, particularly from supplements, can interfere with zinc absorption. While iron is essential, balance is crucial. If iron supplementation is necessary, it’s advisable to monitor zinc levels and, if needed, adjust zinc intake accordingly.

Moderate Phytate Intake

Phytates, present in certain plant foods, can hinder zinc absorption. However, these foods also offer essential nutrients. Balancing the intake of phytate-rich foods with zinc-rich options and employing food preparation techniques that reduce phytate levels can help maintain adequate zinc absorption.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol intake can compromise zinc status by impairing absorption and increasing urinary zinc excretion. Moderating alcohol consumption is beneficial for overall health and aids in maintaining optimal zinc levels.

Regular Monitoring for At-Risk Groups

Certain groups, including pregnant and lactating women, infants, and individuals with gastrointestinal disorders, are at an increased risk of zinc deficiency. Regular monitoring of zinc levels through blood tests can help identify potential deficiencies early, allowing for timely interventions.

Choose Zinc-Rich Supplements Wisely

Supplements can be beneficial for individuals at risk of zinc deficiency, but their use should be approached judiciously. Choosing supplements with forms of zinc that have good bioavailability, such as zinc picolinate or zinc citrate, is important. Consultation with healthcare professionals is advisable to determine the appropriate dosage and duration.

Optimal Water Source

While water is not a primary source of zinc, using clean and uncontaminated water ensures that the body receives zinc without additional unwanted elements. Water purification methods should be considered in areas with known water quality issues.

Sunscreen with Caution

Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in sunscreens, offering protection against UV radiation. While this topical application is generally safe, individuals with sensitive skin should be cautious, and proper cleansing after sun exposure can prevent prolonged zinc exposure.

Maintaining adequate levels of zinc involves a holistic approach that combines dietary diversity, mindful food choices, and lifestyle considerations. Tailoring strategies based on individual needs and regularly assessing zinc status can help individuals achieve and sustain optimal zinc levels, supporting overall health and well-being.

LifeDNA’s Zinc Levels Report

Elevate your wellness journey with LifeDNA’s Zinc Levels Report – a key to unlocking personalized health insights. Our scientifically-backed Vitamins and Supplements Report delves into your unique genetic code, offering a comprehensive understanding of your body’s specific zinc needs. Wellness isn’t one-size-fits-all, and our report empowers you to make informed choices tailored to your genetic profile.

Why guess when you can know? Your genetic makeup influences how your body absorbs and utilizes essential nutrients, and our Zinc Levels Report provides valuable insights into maintaining optimal levels crucial for immune support, skin health, and overall vitality.

But that’s just the beginning. Explore other reports like the Iron Levels Report, Calcium Levels Report, and Vitamin C Levels Report to complete the picture of your well-being. With 7 main categories and almost 200 trait reports under Wellness, Nutrition, Fitness, Sleep, and Personality and Cognition, LifeDNA offers a holistic approach to personalized wellness.

Embark on your wellness journey today by subscribing to LifeDNA’s comprehensive reports. Your genetic profile holds the key to a healthier, more informed lifestyle. Start your journey towards personalized wellness – because your unique needs deserve unique solutions. Avail of LifeDNA’s subscriptions today, and let your genetic insights guide you to a healthier tomorrow.


  • Zinc, a vital trace element, plays a pivotal role in numerous biological processes, from immune system support to cellular growth and DNA synthesis.
  • The human body relies on zinc as a vital micronutrient, crucial for enzymes, immune function, and growth. Dietary intake through meat, dairy, nuts, and legumes is essential.
  • Genetic factors, including specific genes on chromosomes 8, 15, and X, influence zinc levels, providing personalized insights into zinc metabolism.
  • Environmental factors like dietary habits, geographical location, water quality, age, and medications impact zinc levels in the human body.
  • Zinc plays a crucial role in skin health, with benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, wound healing support, and protection against UV radiation.
  • Excessive zinc intake can lead to nausea, vomiting, lowered immune function, copper deficiency, and gastrointestinal disruption.
  • The suggested daily intake of zinc varies based on age, sex, and life stage, with different RDAs for adults, pregnant/lactating individuals, and children.
  • Symptoms of zinc deficiency include impaired growth, weakened immune function, skin disorders, and reproductive issues, while zinc overdose symptoms encompass nausea, lowered immune function, copper deficiency, and headache.
  • Maintaining adequate zinc levels involves a diverse diet, consideration of bioavailability, moderation in iron intake, monitoring for at-risk groups, wise supplement choices, optimal water sources, and cautious sunscreen use.



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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

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