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Photo for blog article titled Do your fingernails look like this? You may be deficient in zinc

Do your fingernails look like this? You may be deficient in zinc

Those little white spots on your fingernails can have several causes, one of which is a lack of zinc. If you also have any other low-zinc signs such as frequent infections, irritability, slow healing, hair loss, or skin rashes, then it may be time to considering supplementing your zinc.

What does our body need zinc for?

Zinc is an essential element for a healthy body. At the extreme of nutritional poverty, zinc deficiency can cause stunted growth in children.

That level of deficiency is rare in New Zealand, however insufficient levels of zinc can result in:

  • Reduced immune function, leading to colds, ear infections, pneumonia and other respiratory issues.
  • Problems with mood and brain function such as difficulty managing emotions and trouble concentrating.
  • Skin infections, rashes and hair loss.
  • Delays in healing.

You may be surprised to hear that zinc is needed to fight off colds - isn't that vitamin C and vitamin D? The truth is that no single nutrient will maximise the strength of your immune system by itself. Every one of them is needed for your body to fend off infections to the best of its abilities, and if you're lacking in one it can create a gap in your natural defences.

Having said that, zinc supplementation can make a massive difference. That's because most people are lacking in zinc, so supplementation brings us up to a sufficient level to help fight off infections. Studies have shown that if you treat a cold with zinc within one day of symptoms appearing, it reduces the duration and halves the severity of symptoms. Zinc supplementation also reduces the number of colds you are likely to have. 

How much zinc do we need?

How much zinc you need each day depends on your age, sex, whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and other health-related factors. Here's a guide to how much most people need:

Age MaleFemale
Birth to 6 months2 mg 2 mg
7-12 months3 mg 3 mg
1-3 years3 mg 3 mg
4-8 years5 mg 5 mg
9-13 years8 mg 8 mg
14+ years11 mg 9 mg
Pregnant / Breastfeeding12 mg

Our soil in New Zealand doesn't contain much zinc, so if you're relying on fruit and vegetables to meet your daily needs you could be in trouble. Fish and meat contains more zinc, but even a sirloin steak only contains about 3.8 mg and we may absorb less than half of that, so you can see how it's a struggle to meet the daily requirements.

Unless you're eating oysters every day, which contain a truly massive amount of zinc (30 mg or so in a couple of oysters), there's a good chance you're getting less than you need.


If you want to know for certain what your zinc levels are, you can go to Labtests for a blood test. Whether you get a referral from your GP or order the test yourself directly, you'll have to pay $47 for the test. You can book a test at Labtests' My Tests portal and then visit a Labtests location to get the test done. The test results will be emailed to you, and will explain whether you are in the normal range.


Children are just as prone to a lack of zinc as adults, if not more so. It can be hard work to get pills into our kids, so we have a great alternative available which is a yummy chewable gummy:

Supplementing your zinc

Here are some zinc supplements that we recommend, and that are usually available in our stock:

Some of our supplements are practitioner-only. We'll need to provide you with a consultation before you can order those, to make sure you're getting the right supplement for your needs. We're happy to consult via email or phone call!

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