Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:
- Zinc Sulfate
- Zinc Gluconate
- Zinc Citrate
- Zinc Picolinate
- Chelated Zinc
Other Proposed Uses
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
- Cold Sores
- Enhancing Mental Function in Seniors
- HIV Support
- Radiation Therapy Support
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sickle-cell Anemia
Zinc is an important element that is found in every cell in the body. More than 300 enzymes in the body need zinc in order to function properly. Although the amount of zinc we need in our daily diet is tiny, it's very important that we get it. However, the evidence suggests that many of us do not get enough. Mild zinc deficiency seems to be fairly common, and for this reason taking a zinc supplement at nutritional doses may be a good idea.
However, taking too much zinc isn’t a good idea—it can cause toxicity. In this article, we discuss the possible uses of zinc at various doses.
The official US recommendations for daily intake of zinc are as follows:
- 0-6 months: 2 mg
- 7-12 months: 3 mg
- 1-3 years: 3 mg
- 4-8 years: 5 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- 14 years and older: 11 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- 14-18 years: 9 mg
- 19 years and older: 8 mg
- 18 years and younger: 13 mg
- 19 years and older: 11 mg
- 18 years and younger: 14 mg
- 19 years and older: 12 mg
Zinc can also be taken as a nutritional supplement, in one of many forms. Zinc citrate, zinc acetate, or zinc picolinate may be the best absorbed, although zinc sulfate is less expensive. When you purchase a supplement, you should be aware of the difference between the milligrams of actual zinc that the product contains (so-called elemental zinc) and the total milligrams of the zinc product, which includes the weight of the sulfate, picolinate, and so forth. All dosages given in this article refer to elemental zinc (unless otherwise stated).
For most purposes, zinc should simply be taken at the recommended daily requirements listed previously.
Note : When using zinc nasal gel products, do not deeply inhale, as this may cause severe pain. Rather, simply squeeze the gel into the nose, according to the directions.
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What Is the Scientific Evidence for Zinc?
Zinc is thought to interfere with the ability of the herpes virus to reproduce itself. As with colds, the formulation of zinc must be properly designed to release active zinc ions. This study used a special zinc oxide and glycine formulation.
Some participants in this study experienced burning and inflammation caused by the zinc itself, but this seldom caused a serious problem.
Macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of vision loss in the elderly.
The results suggest that zinc (alone or, even better, with antioxidants) significantly slowed the progression of the disease.
Keep in mind that the dosages of zinc used in most of these studies are rather high, and should be used only under a physician's supervision.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- 0-6 months: 4 mg
- 7-12 months: 5 mg
- 1-3 years: 7 mg
- 4-8 years: 12 mg
- 9-13 years: 23 mg
Males and Females
- 14-18 years: 34 mg
- 19 years and older: 40 mg
Pregnant Women and Nursing Women
- 18 years or younger: 34 mg
- 19 years and older: 40 mg
There are also some interactions between zinc and certain medications to consider:
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- ACE inhibitors ; estrogen-replacement therapy ; oral contraceptives ; thiazide diuretics ; or medications that reduce stomach acid (such as H 2 blockers [ Zantac ] or proton pump inhibitors [ Prilosec ]): You may need to take extra zinc.
- Amiloride : This medication could reduce zinc excretion from the body, leading to zinc accumulation, which could cause toxic side effects. Do not take zinc supplements unless advised by a physician.
- Manganese ; calcium ; copper ; iron ; antacids ; soy ; or antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone (such as, Cipro , Floxin ) or tetracycline families: It may be advisable to separate your doses of zinc and these substances by at least 2 hours.
- Penicillamine : Zinc interferes with penicillamine's absorption so it may be advisable to take zinc and penicillamine at least 2 hours apart.
- Zinc supplements: You should also take extra copper and perhaps magnesium as well because zinc interferes with their absorption. Zinc interferes with iron absorption, too, but you shouldn't take iron supplements unless you know you are deficient.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 03/26/2013 -