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Can a Zinc Deficiency Cause a Cracked Tongue?

By Abigail Adams

Zinc is an essential metal the body needs to stay healthy. The nutrient helps the immune system, assists with producing proteins and DNA and is important for proper wound healing. People get zinc from eating foods with the mineral and in supplemental forms. Foods with zinc include red meat, cheese, shellfish, legumes, tofu and green beans. People at risk for a zinc deficiency include alcoholics, pregnant women, people with kidney or liver disease and those suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

Developing a zinc deficiency is not common for individuals living in North America, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Symptoms of a zinc deficiency include weight loss, decreased healing, hair loss, decreased sense of taste and smell, nausea and vomiting, slowed growth and low insulin levels. Sores may occur on the skin, which heal slowly. A cracked tongue is not a common symptom of zinc deficiency.

Additional Mouth Symptoms

Although zinc deficiency may not commonly cause a cracked tongue, it may cause additional mouth symptoms. People suffering from burning mouth syndrome may also have low zinc levels. Increasing zinc levels taking supplements may help relieve symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.

Treatment

Increasing the dietary intake of zinc or taking supplemental sources of the mineral may help treat a zinc deficiency and reduce any mouth symptoms associated with the condition. The recommended dietary intake of zinc is 8 mg for adult females and 11 mg for adult males, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Treatment for the deficiency consists of taking 14 to 120 mg of zinc per day until the symptoms stop, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.

Possible Causes of Tongue Problems

Some medical conditions may cause oral problems, such as a sore or cracked tongue. A condition called Kawasaki disease may cause a red, swollen tongue and dry, cracked lips. A virus may cause small white or yellow sores, also called canker sores, to form on the tongue. An allergic reaction to a medication, food or something in the environment and may cause a red, swollen tongue. An oral yeast infection, also called thrush, may cause white patches on the tongue that bleed and are painful when scraped. An inflammatory condition, called oral lichen planus, may cause red open sores on the side of the tongue, but may go away with proper oral hygiene, limiting alcohol and smoking cessation, according to Family Doctor.org.

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