Zinc

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Zinc is a mineral and co-factor for numerous emzymes that is involved in many biochemical pathways, including DNA and protein synthesis. Zinc is considered to be an "essential" nutrient that can be obtained through diet. Other than iron, zinc is the most prevalent mineral in the human body as it can be found in every cell. Zinc is essential for growth and plays a role in visual function, wound healing, immune, reproduction, taste sensation, hearing, smell, blood clotting, and insulin and thyroid function. As an antioxidant, zinc plays a role in cell protection, by helping shield cells from harmful free radicals that are thought to contribute to aging and other health problems. It also has anti-viral properties against some viruses (eg. Rhinovirus and herpes simplex virus). Zinc is especially necessary during pregnancy and childhood as it plays a significant role in growth.

Although it is rare for people in industrialized countries to have severe zinc deficiency, populations at risk for deficiency include the elderly, alcoholics, anorexic people, people on strict diets, and those with Crohn's disease or celiac disease.

Zinc deficiency can be recognized by the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insufficient growth
  • Weight loss
  • Impaired taste sensation or smell properly
  • Unusually slow wound healing
  • Skin issues
  • Hair loss
  • Absent menstrual period
  • Blindness at night
  • White spots appearing on the fingernails
  • Persistant depression
  • Anorexia
  • PICA
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Low sperm count
  • Night Blindness
  • Anemia

Zinc limits the amount of copper your body is able to absorb and therefore a large amount of zinc can possibly result in copper deficiency. 

Also known as:  Acétate de Zinc, Acexamate de Zinc, Aspartate de Zinc, Chlorure de Zinc, Citrate de Zinc, Gluconate de Zinc, Méthionine de Zinc, Monométhionine de Zinc, Numéro Atomique 30, Orotate de Zinc, Oxyde de Zinc, Picolinate de Zinc, Pyrithione de Zinc, Sulfate de Zinc, Zinc Acetate, Zinc Acexamate, Zinc Ascorbate, Zinc Aspartate, Zinc Chloride, Zinc Citrate, Zinc Difumarate Hydrate, Zinc Gluconate, Zinc Methionate, Zinc Methionine, Zinc Monomethionine, Zinc Murakab, Zinc Orotate, Zinc Oxide, Zinc Picolinate, Zinc Pyrithione, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Sulphate, Zincum Aceticum, Zincum Gluconicum, Zincum Metallicum, Zincum Valerianicum

Diseases and Conditions

Zinc is effective for treating the following conditions:

  • Zinc deficiency

Zinc is likely effective for treating the following conditions:

  • Diarrhea
  • Wilson's disease
  • Acne
  • Acrodermatitis enteropathica
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
  • Burns
  • Colorectal adenoma
  • Common cold
  • Depression
  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Diaper rash
  • Gingivitis
  • Halitosis
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Hypogeusia
  • Leishmania lesions
  • Leprosy
  • Muscle cramps
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnacy-related complications
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Shigellosis
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Venous leg ulcers
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Warts 

Zinc is likely ineffective for treating the following conditions:

  • AIDS diarrhea-wasting syndrome
  • Alopecia areta
  • Eczema
  • Cataracts
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Infant development
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Influenza
  • Otisis media
  • Pregnancy-related iron deficiency
  • Prostate cancer
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rosacea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tinnitus
  • Upper respiratory tract infections.

Zinc is likely ineffective for treating the following condition:

  • Malaria 

 

Safety

Zinc is likely safe when used orally and appropriately within the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of 40 mg/day. It may be safe to take zinc in higher doses under the supervision of a physician. Zinc is possibly unsafe when used intranasally since it might cause permanent anosmia or loss of sense of smell. It is likely unsafe to ingest large doses of zinc; 10-30 grams of zinc sulfate can be lethal for adults. Children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women may safely take zinc under the supervision of a physician.

Zinc is generally well-tolerated when taken within the tolerable upper intake level of 40mg/day for adults. However, possible side effects may include gastrointestinal disturbances nausea and vomiting. 

When taken in amounts above your recommended amount, zinc may cause serious adverse effects, including:

  • Copper deficiency and associated symptoms
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Irritation and corrosion of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
  • Acute renal tubular necrosis
  • Interstitial nephritis 

Topically, zinc may cause the following side effects:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Itching
  • Tingling when applied to inflamed tissue 

Topical exposure to zinc oxide can cause dark discoloration of the skin, especially following prolonged topical application to intact skin, application to eroded or ulcerated skin, or penetrating traumatic exposure, and also parenteral administration.

Medication Interactions

Zinc may interfere with the following medications:

  • Amiloride
  • Antidiabetes drugs, such as:
    • Glimepiride (Amaryl)
    • Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
    • Insulin
    • Metformin (Glucophage)
    • Pioglitazone (Actos)
    • Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
    • Atazanavir
    • Cephalexin
    • Cisplatin
  • Integrase inhibitors such as:
    • Dolutegravir (Tivicay)
    • Elvitegravir (Vitekta)
    • Raltegravir (Isentress)
  • Penicillamine
  • Quinolones such as:
    • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
    • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
    • Ofloxacin (Floxin)
    • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
    • Gatifloxacin (Tequin)
    • Ritonavir
    • Tetracycline antibiotics

Supplement and Food Interactions

Zinc may potentially interfere with the following herbs, supplements, and foods:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Bromelain
  • Calcium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • EDTA
  • Folic acid
  • Herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic effects, including:
    • Alpha-lipoic acid
    • Bitter melon
    • Chromium
    • Devil's claw
    • Fenugreek
    • Garlic
    • Guar gum
    • Horse chestnut
    • Panax ginseng
    • Psyllium
    • Siberian ginseng
    • Phytic acid
    • Iron
    • Magnesium
    • Manganese
    • Riboflavin
    • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin D
  • Coffee
  • Dairy
  • Calcium-fortified foods
  • Fiber
  • Phytate
  • Protein
  • Vegetarian diet

Dosage

The correct dosage of any supplement requires a comprehensive analysis of many factors including your age, sex, health conditions, DNA, and lifestyle. 

For adults, the following Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of zinc have been established but may vary based on your individual profile:

  • Girls and women 14-18 years: 9 mg/day
  • 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

Foods

Zinc can be found in the following foods:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Spinach
  • Kidney Beans
  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Watermelon seeds
  • Garlic
  • Lima Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood
  • Whole Grains
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat Bran
  • Egg Yolk
  • Nuts
  • Legumes

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References

  1. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=982
  2. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/zinc
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
  4. Sandstrom B, Arvidsson B, Cederblad A, Bjorn-Rasmussen E. Zinc absorption from common meals. I. The signiicance of wheat extraction rate, zinc, calcium and protein content in meals based on bread. Am J Clin Nutr 1980; 33:739-745.
  5. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/zinc

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