The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Vitamin and Mineral Information

Zinc

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
Index
(click on the keywords)

Function

Zinc is found in every cell in the body and is part of more than 300 enzymes needed for proper immune function, wound healing, cell reproduction, fertility, protein synthesis, protection of cells from free radical damage, proper vision, taste and smell and healthy skin. It is also needed for vitamin A utilization. Mild zinc deficiency is characterized by increased infections, slow healing of wounds, decreased sense of taste and smell, skin rashes, poor night vision, growth retardation, poor appetite and bad breath. Severe zinc deficiency causes skin problems, diarrhea, hair loss, mental disturbances and severe or recurrent infections. Since the average intake of dietary zinc in the US is below the RDA, many people have mild zinc deficiency. It is especially common in the elderly, pregnant women, people with malabsorption diseases, alcoholics, sickle cell anemia and those with chronic kidney disease. Zinc toxicity can occur with doses over 150 mg per day and causes copper deficiency, decreased HDL choles terol levels, decreased immune function, low blood pressure, pulmonary edema, jaundice and decreased urine output.

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Forms

  • Zinc chelates including picolinate, acetate, citrate and gluconate

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Food Sources

  • Zinc is high in oysters, shellfish, fish, eggs and meat. Zinc is also found in good amounts in whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, but is less available because it binds to plant fiber.

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Dosage

  • Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
  • Infants- 5 mg
  • Children (ages 1-10)- 10 mg
  • Adults- 12-15 mg
  • Pregnancy- 15 mg
  • Lactation- 19 mg

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Optimal Supplementation

  • 15-20 mg

Treatment of Health Conditions

  • 30-60 mg

Conditions used for

  • Acne (1)
  • Male infertility (2, 3, 4)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (5)
  • Enhanced immune function (6)
  • Colds- zinc gluconate lozenges (7, 8)
  • Wilsonís disease (9)
  • Zinc deficiency

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Side effects

  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Mouth irritation and bad taste from zinc lozenges
  • Zinc toxicity can occur with doses over 150 mg per day and causes copper deficiency, decreased HDL cholesterol levels, decreased immune function, low blood pressure, pulmonary edema, jaundice and decreased urine output.

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Contraindications

  • Copper deficiency, kidney dysfunction and biliary obstruction

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Interactions with other nutrients

  • Zinc decreases copper absorption
  • Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron decrease zinc absorption
  • High fiber foods and dairy products decrease zinc absorption
  • N-acetyl cysteine increases urine excretion of zinc

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Interactions with medications and herbs

  • Zinc decreases absorption of tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones

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References

1. Dreno B et al, Low doses of zinc gluconate for inflammatory acne, Acta Derm Venereol 1989;69(6):541-3
2. Omu AE et al, Treatment of asthenozoospermia with zinc sulphate: andrological, immunological and obstetric outcome, Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1998;79(2):179-84
3. Hunt CD et al, Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men, Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56(1):148-57
4. Mohan H et al, Inter-relationship of zinc levels in serum and semen in oligospermic infertile patients and fertile males, Indian J Pathol Microbiol 1997;40(4):451-5
5. Naveh Y et al, Zinc metabolism in rheumatoid arthritis: plasma and urinary zinc and relationship to disease activity, J Rheumatol 1997;24(4):643-6
6. Sazawal S et al, Zinc supplementation reduces the incidence of acute lower respiratory infections in infants and preschool children: a double-blind, controlled trial, Pediatrics 1998;102(1 Pt 1):1-5
7. Mossad SB et al, Zinc gluconate lozenges for treating the common cold. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, Ann Intern Med 1996;125(2):81-8
8. Godfrey JC et al, Zinc for treating the common cold: review of all clinical trials since 1984, Altern Ther Health Med 1996;2(6):63-72
9. van Caillie-Bertrand M et al, Oral zinc sulfates for Wilsonís disease, Arch Dis Child 1985;60:656

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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