Does this sound familiar?
You have tried everything.
You set out to tackle the problem by upgrading your footwear.
You bought shoes that breathe, wore them each other day or even less frequent. Started wearing the best socks you can wear to combat smelly feet. Heck, you even bought a UV shoe santizer.
On top of that you also powdered your shoes. Washed your feet as thoroughly as Cleopatra nourished her skin. Of course not with honey and goat milk, but with the best antibacterial soap you can get.
Yet still. Your feet keep smelling.
Frustration is your part. And your spouse and children’s part too. A whole family suffers from it. You taking off your shoes after a day’s work is appreciated as a fart in an elevator.
You keep wondering why? What’s wrong with your feet? It’s like you are doomed to walk this earth dispersing a foul cheesy whiff.
Well, here’s the thing.
There could be a perfectly reasonable and logical explanation for the fact that your feet still stink.
It may have nothing to do with your efforts. You may not have been plagued by a mysterious ailment .
Because being due diligent in attacking those bacteria, the culprits of the stench still isn’t enough in case..
You have a zinc defiency
Yup, you read that right. Smelly feet may come from a nutritional zinc deficiency. In fact it’s rather common and this can very well be the cause of your foot odor.
Actually, being zinc deprived occurs more fequently than you may think.
In developing countries it is widespread but also in our Western world it is estimated that roughly 10 percent or more people do not have adequate zinc levels. In older people this impaired zinc status is thought to be even up to 40 percent.
The most common reason is that we don’t get enough bioavailable zinc via our food. The past decades soil has been depleted of nutrients and minerals and as a result our vegetables and fruits have become less nutritional. As well as less rich in zinc.
Apart from inadequate dietary intake malabsorption may be a cause.
Zinc is not only known to play an important role in the immune system. It is one of the essential trace elements and, as such, in very small amounts it is necessary for human health.
In other words, zinc is a micronutrient that plays a prominent role in many processes affecting our health and wellbeing. And, supposedly, also in body and foot odor.
Signs of zinc deficiency
Visible symptoms of zinc deficiency that occur first are hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin conditions, loss of appetite, scaly or just dry skin around your face and feet, and stinky feet.
Are there studies linking zinc deficiency to smelly feet?
No. Not as far as I know. I couldn’t find any research on PubMed, Wiley Interscience, Cochrane reviews or other places.
Also Mayo Clinic does not list this ailment on their Evidence for Zinc supplementation page.
The only thing I found is this quote by Dr. Lobe in The Doctors Book of Home Remedies: Quick Fixes, Clever Techniques, and Uncommon Cures to Get You Feeling Better Fast.
“Foot odor is one of many symptoms of zinc deficiency”
In the section Kitchen Cures, chapter Foot Odor, he mentions zinc as an effective home remedy.
Dr. Thom Lobe, the founder and medical director of Beneveda Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, a practitioner of alternative medicine with a strong interest in complementary and alternative approaches also mentions vodka and Jell-O as cures that actually work.
So why do you recommend taking zinc supplements?
Because it has helped numerous people. And on top of that, if you’ve tried everything, you are probably willing to try one more remedy.
Especially since it’s a relatively easy method that doesn’t cost you much time or money. Just make sure not to overdo it with the zinc intake. More in a bit.
“Take 1 or 2 zinc tablets per day during a few weeks. My whole family was thankful I did. And I am too. It has saved me lots of embarrasment as well as money buying new socks and shoes.”
There’s also the old rhyme, “zinc for stink” and while there’s no real scientific evidence for this claim it is thought that zinc deficiency is of influence. How exactly remains to be seen.
According to some, a weakened immune system leads to excessive growth of bacteria. Others think tissue deterioration as a result of the systemic imbalance of a lack of zinc may be the cause.
Moreover, it is known that kidney disorders or liver problems, resulting in wastes not being properly be eliminated from the body, can also bring about foot odor.
Toxic build-up causes you sweat to smell worse than normal regardless of hygiene or other measures taken.
Anyway, there is lots of anecdotal evidence that suggests taking zinc supplements or eating zinc-rich foods can cure smelly feet in some people when other remedies were unsuccessful.
How much zinc should you take?
It is commonly recommended to take 50 mg of zinc for a few weeks in order to stop your feet from smelling.
Medical professionals urge that taking over 50 milligrams is excessive.
- Excess zinc supplementation can interfere with iron and copper absorption.
- It can also reduce magnesium and calcium absorption.
Since zinc supplementation interferes with copper absorption many people take 2mg copper in addition. This would ensure a more natural adequate intake (AI).
The University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests taking 2 milligrams of copper along with zinc.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc
- male adults 11 mg
- female adults 8 mg
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) however is 40 mg/day for adults. The UL is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects.
Taking zinc supplements on a routine basis is not recommended.
It is commonly mentioned that, before taking a zinc supplement, you should consult with your physician to help determine your appropriate dosage. Which you should.
However, in the real world it is a fact that, sadly, most of your doctors know absolutely nothing about nutritional supplementation and their biological mechanism of action. Even worse, they often think there are no health benefits to your body.
So if possible, find a medical professional, dietitian or naturopathic physician that can provide you with personal advice.
Which foods are highest in zinc?
Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food. Eating oysters every day may not be practical though. Or tasty for that matter.
Also meat, eggs, dairy, whole grains, legumes, nuts, soy products, and some fortified cereal products.
However, phytates (antioxidant compounds) in cereals, wholegrain bread, legumes and some other foods inhibit zinc absorption. In other words, your body is less able to absorb zinc from many of these plant-based foods.
The bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal foods, although many grain- and plant-based foods are still good sources of zinc.
Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board.
Which zinc supplements should you get?
Elemental zinc supplements come in various forms.
- available are zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc picolinate, and zinc acetate supplements.
- Zinc supplements must be used with caution because of the dangers of zinc excess and zinc toxicity.
Zinc gluconate is commonly used for treating colds (e.g. in lozenges). Some people complain that zinc gluconate and sulphate upsets their stomach or makes them ill.
For optimal absorbtion do not take zinc tablets with foods that hinder absorption like protein, bran, coffee, phytates, calcium or phosphorus.
Did you use zinc supplements for your stinky feet?
Did it work for you? No more feet that reek like a garbage bin on a hot summers day in Bangkok?
Help others out by sharing your experiences below.