Zinc is a nutrient that people need to stay healthy. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps your immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Your body also uses zinc to make DNA (the genetic material in cells) and proteins. During pregnancy, infancy, childhood, and adolescence the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for the proper sense of taste.
Zinc deficiency causes diarrhea, slow growth, and loss of appetite in infants and children. Infants and children who have had a zinc deficiency may have reproductive problems when they become adults. In older children, zinc deficiency also causes hair loss and frequent infections.
The common coldSome studies suggest that zinc lozenges or zinc syrup speeds recovery from the common cold if you start taking them at the start of a cold. However, these products don't seem to affect the severity of cold symptoms. More study is needed to determine the best dose and form of zinc for the common cold, as well as how often and how long it should be taken.
Pneumonia in childrenSome studies in lower-income countries show that zinc supplements lower the risk of pneumonia in young children. Zinc doesn't seem to speed recovery or reduce the number of deaths from pneumonia.
HIV in children and adultsMany people with HIV have low zinc levels. This occurs because they have trouble absorbing zinc from food. They also often have diarrhea, which increases zinc loss. Some studies show that supplemental zinc decreases diarrhea and complications of HIV, but other studies do not show this. Zinc supplements do not appear to reduce the risk of death in people with HIV. More research is needed to determine whether zinc supplements might help people with HIV.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)AMD is an eye disease that gradually causes vision loss. In large studies among older people with AMD who were at high risk of developing advanced AMD, those who took daily dietary supplements with zinc and other ingredients for 5 years had a lower risk of developing advanced AMD than those who did not take the supplements. The ingredients in the supplements were: 80 mg zinc plus vitamin E, vitamin C, copper, and either beta-carotene or lutein and zeaxanthin. People who have or are developing AMD should talk with their doctor about taking a dietary supplement called AREDS or AREDS2.
Type 2 diabetesPeople with type 2 diabetes often have low zinc levels. Some research shows that zinc supplements might help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. But more research is needed to learn if zinc might be recommended for people with type 2 diabetes.
Using large amounts of denture creams that contain zinc, well beyond what the label recommends, could lead to excessive zinc intake and copper deficiency. This can cause neurological problems, including loss of coordination, numbness, and weakness in the arms, legs, and feet.
Zinc is important for the whole body, especially for healthy skin, the immune system and wound healing. It is especially important for babies, children and pregnant women to have enough zinc in their diet to help them grow and develop.
People who eat protein are more likely to be able to absorb zinc, so vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk of zinc deficiency. People who eat mainly grains and legumes need more zinc than people who eat meat.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral, so you get it through the foods you eat. Next to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has been used since ancient times to help heal wounds and plays an important role in the immune system, reproduction, growth, taste, vision, and smell, blood clotting, and proper insulin and thyroid function.
It's rare for people in industrialized countries to be seriously deficient in zinc. Low zinc levels are sometimes seen in the elderly, alcoholics, people with anorexia, and people on very restricted diets. People who have malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease, may also be deficient in zinc.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite; poor growth; weight loss; lack of taste or smell; poor wound healing; skin problems such as acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis; hair loss; lack of menstrual period; night blindness; white spots on the fingernails; and depression.
Zinc reduces the amount of copper your body absorbs, and high doses of zinc can cause a copper deficiency. For that reason, many doctors recommend that you take 2 mg of copper along with a zinc supplement.
Some studies suggest that taking oral zinc supplements may help improve acne. However, most studies used a high dose of zinc that could have toxic effects, and not all studies found any benefit. There is some evidence that a topical form of zinc, used along with the topical antibiotic erythromycin, might be helpful.
Doctors often recommend zinc to slow the progress of AMD, an eye disease that occurs when the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision starts to deteriorate. A major clinical trial, the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS1), found that people who had macular degeneration could slow down the damage by taking zinc (80 mg), vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 mg), beta-carotene (15 mg), and copper (2 mg). If you have macular degeneration, ask your doctor whether these vitamins and minerals might help you. This is a very large amount of zinc and should only be used under a doctor's supervision.
Zinc nasal sprays are controversial. Some studies have found zinc nasal sprays may help reduce cold symptoms, but other studies have found no effect. In addition, zinc nasal sprays may cause some people to lose their sense of smell. To be safe, talk to your doctor before using a zinc nasal spray.
There is some evidence that zinc supplements (not lozenges) may help lower the risk of getting a cold in the first place. In one study, elderly people in a nursing home who had normal levels of zinc had a lower risk of pneumonia, fewer new antibiotic prescriptions and fewer days of antibiotic use. More and better studies are needed that examine which kinds of zinc may be effective and against which kinds of cold viruses.
People who have sickle cell disease are often deficient in zinc. Studies suggest that taking zinc supplements may help reduce symptoms of the disease. Children who took zinc showed improvements in height and weight, and had fewer sickle-cell crises.
For children who have low levels of zinc, some evidence suggests that taking zinc may cause a slight improvement in symptoms, reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and impaired socialization in children. However, there was no change in attention deficit symptoms. Zinc may be most helpful to children with a high body mass index, low levels of free fatty acids in their blood, and low levels of zinc.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. In one study, people with cold sores used either a zinc oxide cream or placebo every 2 hours until their cold sores got better. Those who used the zinc cream had fewer symptoms and got better faster.
Preliminary evidence suggests that zinc may help treat Wilson's disease, a condition which causes copper to build up in the body. Because zinc reduces how much copper the body absorbs, it may help reduce levels of copper in people with Wilson's disease.
Your body absorbs 20 - 40% of the zinc present in food. Zinc from animal foods like red meat, fish, and poultry is more readily absorbed by the body than zinc from plant foods. Zinc is best absorbed when taken with a meal that contains protein.
The best sources of zinc are oysters (richest source), red meats, poultry, cheese (ricotta, Swiss, gouda), shrimp, crab, and other shellfish. Other good, though less easily absorbed, sources of zinc include legumes (especially lima beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, peanuts), whole grains, miso, tofu, brewer's yeast, cooked greens, mushrooms, green beans, tahini, and pumpkin, and sunflower seeds.
More easily absorbed forms of zinc are zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc glycerate, and zinc monomethionine. If zinc sulfate causes stomach irritation, you can try another form, such as zinc citrate.
You should not take high doses of zinc for more than a few days unless your doctor tells you to. Talk to your doctor before taking more than 40 mg of zinc per day and take breaks from zinc supplementation. During those breaks, get zinc from a well-balanced diet.
Research has shown that less than 40 mg a day is a safe amount to take over time, but researchers are not sure what happens if more is taken over a long period. Additional concerns have been raised about combining multivitamins and additional zinc supplements and an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer. Speak with physician.
Common side effects of zinc include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and a metallic taste in the mouth. High doses of zinc can cause dizziness, headache, drowsiness, increased sweating, loss of muscle coordination, alcohol intolerance, hallucinations, and anemia.
Blood pressure medications, ACE Inhibitors -- A class of medications called ACE inhibitors, used to treat high blood pressure, may decrease the levels of zinc in your blood. ACE inhibitors include:
Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) -- This drug, used for chemotherapy to treat some types of cancers, may cause more zinc to be lost in your urine. If you are undergoing chemotherapy, do not take zinc or any other supplement without talking to your oncologist.
Immunosuppressant medications -- Since zinc may make the immune system stronger, it should not be taken with corticosteroids (such as prednisone), cyclosporine, or other medications intended to suppress the immune system.
Penicillamine -- This medication, used to treat Wilson's disease (where excess copper builds up in the brain, liver, kidney, and eyes) and rheumatoid arthritis, decreases the levels of zinc in your blood. 59ce067264