When you have your monthly period, your body loses a small amount of zinc. This is not usually enough to cause a zinc deficiency, but if you suffer from zinc deficiency symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about your zinc levels in your blood and ensure you are consuming ample amounts through your diet.
Symptoms of a zinc deficiency can include poor immune system function, delayed wound healing, hair loss, appetite changes, problems with your sense of taste and smell, skin sores and difficulty seeing in the dark. This is not common in developed countries and is not a common side effect of menstruation; therefore if you have these symptoms, they may be related to other factors in addition to the small loss of blood from your menstrual cycle.
Zinc Deficiency Causes
Zinc deficiency is caused by a variety of factors including malnutrition, eating disorders, severe or persistent diarrhea, sickle cell anemia, alcoholism, vegetarianism, pregnancy or breastfeeding. Other causes include malabsorption problems and gastrointestinal disease such as celiac disease, short bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. If you have any of these conditions or risk factors, you are more likely to have a zinc deficiency during menstruation. One way to decrease your chances of developing a deficiency is to eat a diet that contains the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, of zinc.
RDA And Food Sources
The RDA for females is between 8 and 9 mg per day. The RDA is the minimum amount that you need from food each day to ensure normal body function and to prevent a zinc deficiency. Zinc is found in foods such as beef, pork, lamb, fish, nuts, whole grains, legumes and yeast. Fruits and vegetables are not good sources. Multivitamin and multimineral supplements also contain zinc, but you should not overdo it. The maximum intake of zinc should be below 34 mg if you are under the age of 18 years and under 40 mg if you are over 18. Too much zinc can lead to toxicity symptoms.
If your menstrual period consists of heavy, prolonged or irregular cycles and you have symptoms of a zinc deficiency, talk with your doctor about working with a dietitian to ensure you are eating a proper diet. Your doctor will also be able to determine if your deficiency is being caused by an underlying condition and, therefore, will be able to suggest the best form of treatment available.