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Zinc

General Information

Zinc is a metal. It is known as an essential trace element because humans need only small amounts in order for our bodies to function properly. It is available as a supplement, but it can also be found in foods such as lean meats, shellfish, oysters, whole grains, dairy products, nuts, and legumes (e.g., peanuts, soybeans).

Common Name(s)

zinc

Scientific Name(s)

zinc

How is this product usually used?

Zinc is usually taken by mouth (orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed)). It is available in different forms that may include tablets, capsules, chewables (e.g., gummies, tablets), powders, strips, lozenges, and liquids. It is also available in a form that can be applied directly onto the skin (topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin).

Table 1 lists the usual dose range and the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc for different age groups

Table 1 Usual dose range and RDA for zinc for different age groups

Age group

Zinc (mg/day)

RDA

Usual dose range (for zinc from non-picolinate sources)

Usual dose range (for zinc picolinate)

Infants

0-6 months

2*

0.2–2

7–12 months

3

0.2–2

Children

1–3 years

3

0.4–7

4–8 years

5

0.4–12

Adolescent males

9–13 years

8

0.4–23

14–18 years

11

0.7–34

Adult males

>19 years

11

0.7–50

0.7–25†

Adolescent females

9–13 years

8

0.4–23

14–18 years

9

0.7–34

Adult females

>19 years

8

0.7–50

0.7–25†

Pregnancy

14–18 years

12

0.7–50

19–50 years

11

0.7–50

Breast-feeding

14–18 years

13

0.7–50

19–50 years

12

0.7–50


Adequate Intake (AI)

When zinc picolinate is used for zinc supplement, it should only be used by adults. Do not use beyond 3 months without approval of a health care provider.

Zinc supplements should be taken with food and a few hours before or after taking medications.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Zinc is important in maintaining overall good health. Zinc helps with proper immune function and maintenance of healthy skin and connective tissue. It also helps the body break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into useable sources. At doses at or above the RDA, zinc supplementation is used to prevent zinc deficiency, which is rare in North America.

Studies of zinc to treat the common cold have had mixed results, with some trials suggesting that zinc lozenges may reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold when used within the first 24 hours of getting the cold. The inconsistent findings may be related to the different zinc formulations (containing different amounts of zinc) that were used. More studies are needed to confirm its benefits.

There is also research showing that oral zinc, in combination with vitamins C and E and beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), may delay progression or lower the risk of vision loss in some people with advanced, age-related macular deterioration.

There is good evidence for the effectiveness of zinc in treating diarrhea in malnourished children and in treating stomach ulcers. Other uses of zinc include treatment of acne, ADHD, herpes simplex virus infection, and sickle cell anemia. However, there is not enough evidence of the effectiveness of zinc for these conditions; additional studies are required to confirm its benefits.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Zinc is generally safe for most adults when recommended amounts are used. Side effects of zinc taken orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) include metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, and stomach and kidney damage. High doses can lead to side effects like fever, fatigue, and stomach pain. High daily doses might also increase the risk of copper deficiency and weakened immune system. Copper is often added into zinc formulations to prevent copper deficiency. Talk to your health care provider to see if you need copper supplement. Using topical zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.

Zinc supplements should be taken with food. Certain forms of zinc supplements are for adult use only. Check with your health care provider.

Zinc can decrease the absorption of certain antibiotics (e.g., tetracyclines), and penicillamine when taken together. This can be avoided by taking medications and zinc a few hours apart from each other. Zinc may also interact with diureticdiuretican agent that increases urine flows (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide), cisplatin, black coffee, and dairy products.

Zinc (from non-picolinate sources) is safe for most pregnant and breast-feeding women when used in recommended daily amounts. Avoid using zinc picolinate as a source of zinc supplement if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. Zinc (monograph). Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. (subscription required). Accessed online 28 June 2012.
  2. Skokovic-Sunjic D. Minerals and the role of the pharmacy technician. Pharmacy Practice: Tech Talk CE July/Aug 2004. http://www.pharmacygateway.ca/tech_ce/pdfs/TT_CEJulyEng.pdf
  3. Health Canada. Licensed Natural Health products database. Zinc. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=zinc.mono&lang=eng. Accessed 04 July 2014.
  4. Zinc (for the common cold). www.camline.ca/professionalreview/pr_uses.php?NHPID=55&Section=1. accessed 28 June 2012.
  5. Antioxidant vitamins and zinc for macular degeneration. In: The Medical Letter, 2003.
  6. National Institutes of Health. Zinc health professional factsheet.  http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/, accessed 04 July 2014.
  7. Natural Standard – The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Zinc. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases.aspx (subscription required). Accessed 04 July 2014
  8. Health Canada. Licensed Natural Health products database. Zinc (from zinc picolinate). http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=193&lang=eng. Accessed 04 July 2014
  9. MedlinePlus. Zinc. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/982.html#Safety. Accessed 04 July 2014

All material © 1996- MediResource Inc. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.