Are you zinc deficient? You may suffer from chronic fatigue but supplements can help. Health and Wellness News

Do you feel so tired and exhausted that even resting doesn’t bring you relief? If this condition lasts for six months, you may be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). It is a complex and debilitating condition characterized by extreme and persistent fatigue, the cause of which is still unclear. But some research has suggested a link between it and deficiency of the mineral, i.e. zinc.

Mineral deficiencies are known to affect various bodily functions and their role in the development of CFS has been the subject of scientific investigation. One of the essential minerals that plays a vital role in various physiological processes including immune function, metabolism and DNA synthesis is zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause many health problems, including fatigue.

role of zinc

Immune Function: Zinc helps regulate the production of immune cells, antibodies and cytokines. Its deficiency can weaken our immune response system, making individuals more susceptible to infection. CFS patients often report recurring infections.

Cellular energy production: Zinc is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It acts as a co-factor for enzymes that are essential for energy production at the cellular level. When you have CFS, the energy production process may be disrupted, leading to fatigue.

Oxidative stress: Zinc is an important antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative damage. Zinc deficiency may increase the oxidative stress experienced by CFS patients.

Recommended Zinc Intake

The recommended daily dose of zinc varies depending on age, gender and stage of life. In general, adult men are recommended to consume about 11 mg of zinc daily, while adult women need about 8 mg. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may need more zinc.

Dietary sources of zinc include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and legumes. However, CFS patients may have dietary restrictions or difficulty absorbing zinc from food, which may contribute to a deficiency.

Dangers of Self-Medicating with Zinc Supplements

While zinc is an essential mineral, it is important to recognize that excessive zinc intake can lead to toxicity, which can have adverse health effects. Self-medicating with zinc supplements without proper guidance may cause more harm than good, especially for CFS patients.

Risk of toxicity: Zinc supplements are readily available without a prescription, and some individuals may be tempted to take large doses in an attempt to ease their symptoms. However, excessive zinc intake may cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and impaired immune function. Long-term high-dose zinc supplementation can also lead to copper deficiency, which can further complicate health problems.

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Drug interactions: Zinc supplements may interact with some medications, reducing their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions. It is important for CFS patients to consult a health care professional before adding zinc supplements to their treatment regimen, as they may already be taking several medications.

Individual variability: Zinc requirements can vary widely between individuals. Factors such as genetics, dietary habits and underlying health conditions can affect how much zinc a person needs. Self-administered supplementation may not be tailored to an individual’s specific needs and may not address the root causes of CFS.

Seek guidance from health care professionals who can conduct a thorough assessment, including nutritional assessment, and provide tailored treatment plans. CFS is a complex condition that requires a comprehensive approach, and the role of zinc should be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy.

First published: 21-09-2023 at 09:00 IST

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