Zinc

Zinc is a mineral which is called as an 'essential trace element' because very small amounts of zinc are necessary for human health.

Updated: May 29, 2019

Zinc is a mineral which is called as an 'essential trace element' because very small amounts of zinc are necessary for human health. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet.
Common dietary sources of zinc include red meat, poultry, and fish. It a nutrient found throughout your body, helps your immune system and metabolism function. Zinc is also important to wound healing and your sense of taste and smell. Zinc deficiency can cause short stature, reduced ability to taste food, and the inability of testes and ovaries to function properly. Oral Zinc help treat and prevent zinc deficiency and its consequences, including stunted growth and acute diarrhea in children, slow wound healing, and Wilson's disease. It is also used for boosting the immune system, improving growth and heath in zinc deficient infants and children, for treating the common cold and recurrent ear infections, the flu and many others. It is useful to stabilize blood sugar levels, and help keep your skin, eyes, and heart healthy.

Dietary Sources:

As your body doesn't store zinc, so you need to eat enough every day to ensure you are meeting your daily requirements. Eating a healthy balanced diet that includes zinc-rich foods should satisfy everyone's needs.  Meats, seafood, dairy products, nuts, legumes, and whole grains offer relatively high levels of zinc.
Red meat is a particularly great source of Zinc. But eating large amounts of red meat, especially processed meat, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and some cancers. So, keep your intake of processed meats to a minimum and consume unprocessed red meats as part of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber.
A 100-gram serving of raw ground beef provides men 43% of their daily recommended zinc intake.
Shellfish are healthy, low-calorie sources of zinc. Shellfish like oysters, crab, mussels and shrimp can all contribute to your daily zinc needs. Oysters contain particularly high amounts, with 6 medium oysters providing 32 mg, or 290% of a man’s daily recommended intake. However, if you are pregnant, make sure shellfish are completely cooked before you eat them to minimize the risk of food poisoning.
Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans all contain substantial amounts of zinc. In fact, 100 grams of cooked lentils contain around 12% of a man's daily recommended intake. But, as they contain phytates, zinc from legumes isn't as well absorbed as the zinc from animal products. Despite this, they can be an important source of zinc for people following vegan or vegetarian diets. Heating, sprouting, soaking or fermenting plant sources of zinc like legumes can increase this mineral's bioavailability.
Some seeds like hemp, pumpkin, squash and sesame seeds contain significant amounts of zinc. 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds contain 31% and 43% of the recommended daily intake for men and women, respectively. They are also a good source of fiber, healthy fats and vitamins, making them a healthy addition to your diet.
Eating nuts such as pine nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds can boost your intake of zinc. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of cashews contains 14% of a man's daily recommended intake.
Dairy foods like cheese and milk provide a number of nutrients, including zinc.
Milk and cheese are two notable sources, as they contain high amounts of bioavailable zinc, meaning most of the zinc in these foods can be absorbed by your body (3Trusted Source). 100 grams of cheddar cheese contains about 28% of a man's daily recommended amount of zinc, while a single cup of full-fat milk contains around 9% .
Eggs contain a moderate amount of zinc and can help you meet your daily target. One large egg contains 5% of a man's daily recommended intake of zinc, as well as a host of other nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, selenium and choline.
Whole grains like wheat, quinoa, rice and oats contain some zinc. However, like legumes, grains contain phytates, which bind to zinc and reduce its absorption
On the other hand eating whole grains has been linked to a longer life and number of other health benefits, including a reduced risk of obesity, type two diabetes and heart disease.
Most vegetables are poor sources of zinc, but some contain moderate amounts and can contribute to your daily needs, especially if you don't eat meat. Potatoes, both regular and sweet varieties, contain approximately 1 mg per large potato, which is 9% of a man's recommended daily intake (33, 34). Other vegetables like green beans and kale contain less, at around 3% of a man's recommended intake per 100 grams.
Dark chocolate can be a source of zinc. However, it is also high in calories and sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation and not as a primary source of zinc. A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) bar of 70-85% dark chocolate contains 3.3 mg of zinc, or 30% of a man's recommended amount.

Deficiency:

Zinc deficiency is not uncommon worldwide. Symptoms include slowed growth, low insulin levels, loss of appetite, irritability, generalized hair loss, rough and dry skin, slow wound healing, poor sense of taste and smell, diarrhea, and nausea. Moderate zinc deficiency is associated with disorders of the intestine which interfere with food absorption (malabsorption syndromes), alcoholism, chronic kidney failure, and chronic debilitating diseases.
Zinc plays a key role in maintaining vision, and it is present in high concentrations in the eye. Zinc deficiency can alter vision, and severe deficiency can cause changes in the retina (the back of the eye where an image is focused). Low zinc levels can be associated with male infertility, sickle cell disease, HIV, major depression, and type 2 diabetes, and can be fought by taking a zinc supplement. If you are not getting enough of Zinc from your diet, then you can use a supplement. Zinc supplements are available in many different forms such as capsule, tablet, and lozenge form and often used to treat an array of ailments. Zinc-containing nasal sprays should be avoided as it is linked to loss of smell.

Side Effects & Safety:

Zinc is likely safe for most adults when applied to the skin, or when taken by mouth in amounts not larger than 40 mg daily. Routine zinc supplementation is not recommended without the advice of a healthcare professional. In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. Using zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
Zinc is possibly safe when taking by mouth in doses greater than 40 mg daily. Taking doses higher than 40 mg daily might decrease how much copper the body absorbs. Decreased copper absorption may cause anemia. Zinc is possibly unsafe when inhaled through the nose, as it might cause permanent loss of smell. It is advised not to use certain zinc-containing nose sprays (Zicam) by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Avoid using nose sprays containing zinc. Taking high amounts of zinc is likely unsafe. High doses above the recommended amounts might cause fever, coughing, stomach pain, fatigue, and many other problems. Taking more than 100 mg of supplemental zinc daily or taking supplemental zinc for 10 or more years doubles the risk of developing prostate cancer. Taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate zinc supplement increases the chance of dying from prostate cancer.
Taking 450 mg or more of zinc daily can cause problems with blood iron. Single doses of 10-30 grams of zinc can be fatal.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Infants and children:

Zinc is likely safe when taken by mouth appropriately in the recommended amounts. Zinc is possibly unsafe when used in high doses.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding:

Zinc is likely safe for most pregnant and breast-feeding women when used in the recommended daily amounts (RDA). However, zinc is possibly unsafe when used in high doses by breast-feeding women and likely unsafe when used in high doses by pregnant women.
Pregnant women over 18 should not take more than 40 mg of zinc per day, where as pregnant women age 14 to 18 should not take more than 34 mg per day. Breast-feeding women over 18 should not take more than 40 mg of zinc per day, where as breast-feeding women age 14 to 18 should not take more than 34 mg per day.

Alcoholism:

Long-term, excessive alcohol drinking is linked to poor zinc absorption in the body.

Diabetes:

Large doses of zinc can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. People with diabetes should use zinc products cautiously.

Syndromes in which it is difficult for the body to absorb nutrients:

People with malabsorption syndromes may be zinc deficient.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA):

People with RA aborb less zinc.

Hemodialysis:

People receiving hemodialysis treatments seem to be at risk for zinc deficiency and might require zinc supplements.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)/AIDS:

Use zinc cautiously if you have HIV/AIDS. Zinc use has been linked to shorter survival time in people with HIV/AIDs.

Interactions:

Be cautious with the below combination as they can have moderate interaction:

Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics) interacts with Zinc:

Zinc might decrease how much antibiotic the body absorbs. Taking zinc along with some antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. To avoid this interaction take zinc supplements at least 1 hour after antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics that might interact with zinc include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), trovafloxacin (Trovan), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).

Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics) interacts with Zinc:

Zinc can attach to tetracyclines in the stomach. This decreases the amount of tetracyclines that can be absorbed. Taking zinc with tetracyclines might decrease the effectiveness of tetracyclines. To avoid this interaction take zinc 2 hours before or 4 hours after taking tetracyclines. Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

Penicillamine interacts with Zinc:

Penicillamine is used for Wilson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Zinc might decrease how much penicillamine your body absorbs and decrease the effectiveness of penicillamine.

Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) interacts with Zinc:

Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) is used to treat cancer. Taking zinc along with EDTA and cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) might increase the effects and side effects of cisplatin (Platinol-AQ).
Be watchful with the below combination as they can have minor interaction:

Amiloride (Midamor) interacts with Zinc:

Amiloride (Midamor) is used as a 'water pill' to help remove excess water from the body. Another effect of amiloride (Midamor) is that it can increase the amount of zinc in the body. Taking zinc supplements with amiloride (Midamor) might cause you to have too much zinc in your body.

Dosing:

The following doses have been studied in scientific research and is recommended:

Adults:

By Mouth:

General:

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) quantities of zinc are:

  • for boys and men age 14 and older 11 mg/day
  • women 19 and older, 8 mg/day
  • pregnant women 14 to 18, 13 mg/day
  • pregnant women 19 and older, 11 mg/day
  • lactating women 14 to 18, 14 mg/day
  • lactating women 19 and older, 12 mg/day.

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) of zinc for people who are not receiving zinc under medical supervision:

  • adults 19 years and older (including pregnancy and lactation), 40 mg/day.

The typical North American male consumes about 13 mg/day of dietary zinc where as women consume approximately 9 mg/day.
Different salt forms provide different amounts of elemental zinc.

  • Zinc sulfate contains 23% elemental zinc; 220 mg zinc sulfate contains 50 mg zinc.
  • Zinc gluconate contains 14.3% elemental zinc; 10 mg zinc gluconate contains 1.43 mg zinc.

For zinc deficiency:

Recommendations suggest taking two to three times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc for 6 months for people with mild zinc deficiency. Recommendations suggest taking four to five times the RDA for 6 months for people with moderate to severe deficiency.

For diarrhea:

To prevent diarrhea in infants, pregnant women can use 15 mg of zinc, with or without 60 mg of iron and 250 mcg of folic acid, starting 10-24 weeks into pregnancy through one month after giving birth.

For treating Wilson's disease:

Zinc acetate is an FDA-approved drug for treating Wilson's disease. The recommended dose, which contains 25-50 mg of zinc, is to be taken three to five times daily.

For treating acne:

30-150 mg elemental zinc daily can be used.

For tumors in the colon and rectum:

A combination supplement containing 200 mcg of selenium, 30 mg of zinc, 2 mg of vitamin A, 180 mg of vitamin C, and 30 mg of vitamin E shoul be taken daily for up to 5 years.

For treating the common cold:

One zinc gluconate or acetate lozenge, providing 4.5-24 mg elemental zinc, dissolved in the mouth every two hours while awake when cold symptoms are present.

For muscle cramps:

220 mg of zinc sulfate should be taken twice daily for 12 weeks.

Acrodermatitis enteropathica:

This is an inherited disorder that affects zinc uptake. Taking 2-3 mg/kg of elemental zinc daily for a lifetime is recommended for treating an inherited disorder that affects zinc uptake.

Age-related macular degeneration:

A combination of 80 mg of elemental zinc, 2 mg of copper, 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 15 mg of beta-carotene should be taken daily for 5 years in people with advanced age-related vision loss.

For the eating disorder anorexia nervosa:

14-50 mg of elemental zinc has been used daily.

For osteoporosis:

A combination of 15 mg of zinc combined with 5 mg of manganese, 1000 mg of calcium, and 2.5 mg of copper can be used.

For stomach ulcers:

300-900 mg of zinc acexamate should be taken in one to three divided doses daily for up to one year. Also, 220 mg of zinc sulfate can be taken three times daily for 3-6 weeks.

For pregnancy-related complications:

25 mg of zinc should be taken daily in combination with vitamin A for 3 weeks to restore vision in pregnant women with night blindness. 30 mg of zinc can be taken daily for 6 weeks to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes during pregnancy.

For depression:

25 mg of elemental zinc has been used daily for 12 weeks along with antidepressant medications.

For taste disorder (hypogeusia):

140-450 mg of zinc gluconate should be taken in up to three divided doses daily for up to 4 months. Also, 25 mg of elemental zinc can be taken daily for 6 weeks.

For skin lesions (leishmania lesions):

2.5-10 mg/kg of zinc sulfate should be taken in three divided doses daily for 45 days.

For bed sores:

A combination of 9 grams of arginine, 500 mg of vitamin C, and 30 mg of zinc should be used daily for 3 weeks.

For sickle cell disease:

220 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily can be used. Also, 50-75 mg of elemental zinc taken daily in up to two divided doses for 2-3 years can be used.

For leg ulcers:

220 mg of zinc sulfate taken three times daily has been used along with ulcer dressings.

For warts:

400-600 mg of zinc sulfate daily for 2-3 months can be used.

Applied To The Skin:

For acne:

Zinc acetate 1.2% with erythromycin 4% as a lotion can be applied twice daily.

For foot ulcers due to diabetes:

A zinc hyaluronate gel can be applied once daily to ulcers until healed.

For herpes simplex infections:

Zinc sulfate 0.025% to 0.25% applied 8 to 10 times daily or zinc oxide 0.3% with glycine applied every 2 hours while awake should be used. Specific products containing zinc (Virudermin Gel, Robugen GmbH, SuperLysine Plus +, Quantum Health, Inc., Herpigon) can also be used.

For bed sores:

A zinc oxide paste can be applied daily along with standard care for 8-12 weeks.

For leg ulcers:

A paste containing zinc oxide 25% can be applied as a dressing once daily for the first 14 days of treatment and every third day thereafter for 8 weeks.

For warts:

A zinc oxide 20% ointment can be applied twice daily for 3 months or until cured. Zinc sulfate 5% to 10% can be applied to the skin three times daily for 4 weeks..

For gingivitis:

Toothpaste containing 0.2% to 2% zinc citrate alone or with sodium monofluorophosphate or 0.2% triclosan, should be used at least two times daily for up to 7 months. A mouth rinse containing 0.4% zinc sulfate and 0.15% triclosan should also be used.

For bad breath:

Two zinc-containing mouth rinses called Halita and Meridol can be used as single doses or twice daily for 7 days. Candies and chewing gums containing zinc can also be used.

Injected Into The Vein:

For burns:

An injectable solution containing 59 mcmol of copper, 4.8 mcmol of selenium, and 574 mcmol of zinc can be used for 14-21 days.

For skin lesions (leishmania lesions):

An injection of zinc sulfate 2% for 6 weeks can be used.

For taste disorder (hypogeusia):

A zinc solution can be added to 10 L of commercially available dialysis concentrate for 12 weeks.

Children:

By Mouth:

General:

The Institute of Medicine has established Adequate Intake (AI) levels of zinc for infants birth to 6 months is 2 mg/day.
For older infants and children, Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) quantities of zinc are:

  • infants and children 7 months to 3 years, 3 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years, 5 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years, 8 mg/day
  • girls 14 to 18 years, 9 mg/day.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) of zinc for people who are not receiving zinc under medical supervision:

  • Infants birth to 6 months, 4 mg/day; 7 to 12 months, 5 mg/day
  • children 1 to 3 years, 7 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years, 12 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years, 23 mg/day
  • 14 to 18 years (including pregnancy and lactation), 34 mg/day.

Acrodermatitis enteropathica:

Taking 2-3 mg/kg of elemental zinc daily for a lifetime is recommended for treating an inherited disorder that affects zinc uptake.

For the eating disorder anorexia nervosa:

14-50 mg of elemental zinc can be used daily.

For diarrhea:

10-40 mg of elemental zinc can be taken daily for 7-15 days to treat diarrhea in malnourished or zinc-deficient children.

For skin lesions (leishmania lesions):

2.5-10 mg/kg of zinc sulfate taken in three divided doses daily can be used for 45 days.

For pneumonia:

10-70 mg of elemental zinc can be taken daily in undernourished children aged 3 months to 5 years. Also, 2 mg/kg of zinc sulfate can be taken daily in two divided doses for 5 days.

For food poisoning (shigellosis):

Multivitamin syrup containing 20 mg of elemental zinc can be used in two divided doses daily for 2 weeks.

For treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):

55-150 mg of zinc sulfate containing 15-40 mg of elemental zinc can be taken daily for 6-12 weeks.

For treating the common cold:

One lozenge containing 10-23 mg of zinc gluconate, dissolved in the mouth every two hours can be used for up to 10 days. A syrup containing 15 mg of zinc can also be used twice daily for up to 10 days.

For diaper rash:

10 mg of zinc can be taken daily from the first or second day of life until 4 months of age.

For sickle cell disease:

10 mg of elemental zinc can be taken daily for one year in children 4-10 years of age. Also, 15 mg of elemental zinc can be taken twice daily for one year in boys aged 14-18 years.

For leg ulcers:

220 mg of zinc sulfate can be used three times daily along with ulcer dressings.

For vitamin A deficiency:

20 mg of elemental zinc can be taken daily for 14 days, with 200,000 IU of vitamin A on day 14, in children 1-3 years of age.

Applied To The Skin:

For acne:

Zinc acetate 1.2% with erythromycin 4% as a lotion can be applied twice daily for 12-40 weeks.

For diaper rash:

A zinc oxide paste containing allantoin 0.5%, cod liver oil 17%, and zinc oxide 47% can be used for 5 days.

Injected Into The Vein:

For skin lesions (leishmania lesions):

An injection of zinc sulfate 2% for 6 weeks can be used.


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