Zinc Deficiency, Infertility and Your Child’s Mood and Behavior

By Samantha Gilbert, FNC, CHNP, CNC     Last updated on February 12th, 2023

Zinc Deficiency, Infertility and Your Child’s Mood and Behavior

Zinc deficiency can be passed on from parent to child, and it plays a critical role in fertility and gene programming alterations during pregnancy that can result in your child’s lifelong vulnerability to high oxidative stresses.

As we gear up for back to school I want you to consider the #1 item you forgot to get.

It’s called zinc.

Zinc is well-known as an important factor in immune system health, but did you know it’s also a critical component in regulating your child’s mood and behavior? Let’s break down the science of zinc deficiency, which I explain in great detail in my High Zinc Cookbook.

What Is Zinc and Why Is It So Important?

Zinc is an essential trace element that helps stimulate the activity of over 300 different enzymes (enzymes are molecules that speed up chemical reactions in cells, for example, aiding digestion and metabolism) and 1000 transcription factors (transcription factors are proteins involved in DNA conversions).

It is the second most abundant trace metal after iron and because of this, I call zinc a “master” mineral due to its ability to significantly impact all body systems, especially the brain.

Zinc is powerful in its ability to enhance resistance to stress, maintain intellectual function, memory, and mood levels, and for its critical role in cell development and gene expression.

Most zinc is found in the brain, followed by muscle, bones, kidney, and liver, with the highest concentrations in the prostate and parts of the eye (Wapnir, 1990). Once in the liver, zinc is converted to zinc metallothionein (cysteine-rich proteins with powerful antioxidant properties), then transported to cells throughout the body (Walsh, 2012).

Why Is Zinc Deficiency A Problem?

Pre and postnatal development are of critical concern because zinc deficiency can be passed from parent to child. This significantly affects not only growth, development, and immune function, but your child’s ability to think, feel, and act, which can lead to behavioral disorders, ADHD, autism, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia, to name a few.

Zinc deficiency in parents before conception can cause miscarriage, fetal growth restrictions, learning disabilities, mental health challenges, and can even influence gender. This is because it takes more zinc to create a male than a female. While there is no way to determine gender, I almost always see zinc deficiency in couples that miscarry males and only produce girls.

Zinc deficiency is the most frequently observed chemical imbalance in mental health and cognitive functioning. More than 90% of individuals diagnosed with depression, anxiety, behavioral disorders, ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia exhibit depleted plasma zinc levels. Additionally, most mental health disorders involve oxidative stress that depletes zinc stores in the body (Walsh, 2012).

Zinc is necessary to produce neurotransmitters and hormones. Serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine all require the right balance for health and happiness.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, and libido. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone that is released from the sympathetic nervous system in response to stress. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), is a neurotransmitter that inhibits or reduces the activities of neurons or nerve cells. Low levels of GABA are linked to anxiety, which is why GABA supplements have a calming effect. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects emotion, movement, and sensations of pleasure/reward and pain.

Symptoms and Conditions Associated With Zinc Deficiency

Brain fog
Delayed growth
Digestive disorders such
as yeast toxicity
(candida and other
forms of yeast)
Food and
chemical sensitivities
Hair loss
Hormone imbalances
Hyperactivity (especially in children)
Impaired protein metabolism
Inability to tolerate stress
Joint pain
Learning problems
Loss of appetite
Loss of taste for meat
Pale skin
Poor immune function
Poor memory
Poor tanning ability
Poor wound healing
Poor wound healing
Premature greying of the hair
Short stature
Skin disorders
Small intestinal bacterial
overgrowth (SIBO)
Sun sensitivity
Temper control problems
White spots on nails

Disorders and Syndromes Associated With Zinc Deficiency

Alzheimer’s disease
Bipolar disorders
Breast cancer
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)
Ovarian cancer
Panic disorders
Parkinson’s disease
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Postpartum depression (PPD)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Zinc deficiency, along with the other nutrient imbalances and overloads I work with, such as copper toxicity, pyrrole disorder (a double deficiency of zinc and vitamin B6), and methylation imbalances, can be safely corrected with dietary and nutrient therapy.



Walsh, W. J. (2012). Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. New York, NY: Skyhorse.
Wapnir, R. A. (1990). Protein Nutrition and Mineral Absorption. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.


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