Supplements Details


What other names is Zinc known by?

Acétate de Zinc, Acexamate de Zinc, Aspartate de Zinc, Atomic Number 30, 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 Aspartate, Zinc Chloride, Zinc Citrate, Zinc Difumarate Hydrate, Zinc Gluconate, 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, Zn.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a metal. It is called an "essential trace element" because very small amounts of zinc are necessary for human health.

Effective for...

  • Preventing and treating zinc deficiency.

Likely Effective for...

  • Reducing diarrhea in malnourished children, or in children who have low zinc levels.
  • Wilson's disease, a rare genetic disorder.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Decreasing the length of time the common cold lasts, when taken by mouth as a lozenge. However, using zinc as a pill or a nose spray doesn't seem to help prevent colds.
  • Promoting weight gain and improving depression in people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
  • Treating hypogeusia, a rare condition where the sense of taste is abnormal.
  • Acne.
  • Osteoporosis. Low zinc intake seems to be linked to lower bone mass. Taking a zinc supplement in combination with copper, manganese, and calcium might also decrease bone loss in postmenopausal women.
  • Treating an inherited disorder called acrodermatitis enteropathica.
  • Leprosy, when used with other medications.
  • Herpes simplex virus, when zinc preparations made for the skin are applied directly to the mouth or genitals.
  • Treating an eye disease called AMD (age-related macular degeneration) when taken with other medicines.
  • Preventing and treating stomach ulcers.
  • Preventing complications related to sickle cell anemia in people who have low zinc levels.
  • Preventing muscle cramps in people who have low zinc levels.
  • Treating leg wounds in people with low zinc levels.
  • As a mouthwash or toothpaste for preventing tarter and gingivitis.
  • Improving healing of burns.
  • Increasing vitamin A levels in underfed children, or in children with low zinc levels.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Preventing and treating pneumonia in undernourished children in developing countries.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Raising iron blood levels in pregnant women, when taken with iron and folic acid supplements.
  • Skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, or hair loss.
  • Many kinds of arthritis.
  • Preventing or treating cataracts.
  • Malaria in underfed children.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • "Ringing in the ears" (tinnitus).
  • AIDS diarrhea-wasting syndrome.
  • Preventing the flu.
  • Increasing birth weight and gestation time in infants born to HIV infected women.
  • Preventing prostate cancer. Some preliminary research suggests that some men might benefit from taking zinc along with other vitamins and minerals for preventing prostate cancer. But other research suggests that taking zinc can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer and increase the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Alzheimer's disease, wrinkled skin, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, treating the common cold when used as a nose spray, asthma, Down syndrome, recurrent ear infections, male sexual problems, preventing cancer, and other conditions.

How does Zinc work?

Zinc is needed for the proper growth and maintenance of the human body. Zinc is needed for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more.

Are there safety concerns?

Zinc is safe for most adults when applied to the skin, or when taken by mouth in amounts not larger than 40 mg per day for adults age 19 and older. 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.

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. There is also concern that 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.

Some research suggests that zinc nose spray may be unsafe. It may cause loss of ability to smell. Until more is known, avoid using zinc nose spray (Zicam, Cold-Eeze).

Zinc is also safe for most pregnant and breast-feeding women when used in the recommended daily amounts (RDA). Pregnant women age 19 to 50 should not take more than 40 mg of zinc per day; pregnant women age 14 to 18 should not take more than 34 mg per day. Breast-feeding women age 19 to 50 should not take more than 40 mg of zinc per day; breast-feeding women age 14 to 18 should not take more than 34 mg per day. Premature births and stillborn infants have been born to women who took 100 mg of zinc three times a day during their third trimester of pregnancy.

Do not take zinc if:

  • You have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Zinc might reduce survival time.

Are there any interactions with medications?

Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

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. Take zinc and penicillamine at least 2 hours apart.

Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

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 antibiotics at least 2 hours before or 4-6 hours after zinc supplements.

Some of these antibiotics that might interact with zinc include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), gatifloxacin (Tequin) enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).

Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

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 tetracyclines 2 hours before or 4-6 hours after taking zinc supplements.

Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin, Sumycin).

Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) is used to treat cancer. Taking zinc along with EDTA and cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) might inactivate cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) therapy. It is not known for sure, though, if the amount of interference caused by zinc is significant.

Amiloride (Midamor)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

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 considerations for Zinc.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For treating the common cold: one zinc gluconate or acetate lozenge, providing 9-24 mg elemental zinc, dissolved in the mouth every two hours while awake when cold symptoms are present.
  • For diarrhea in malnourished or zinc-deficient children: 10-40 mg elemental zinc daily.
  • For preventing and treating pneumonia in undernourished children in developing countries: 10-70 mg/day.
  • For hypogeusia (sense of taste is abnormal): 25-100 mg zinc.
  • For the eating disorder anorexia nervosa: 100 mg of zinc gluconate daily.
  • For treating stomach ulcers: zinc sulfate 200 mg three times daily.
  • For muscle cramps in zinc deficient people with liver disease: zinc sulfate 220 mg twice daily.
  • For osteoporosis: 15 mg zinc combined with 5 mg manganese, 1000 mg calcium, and 2.5 mg copper has been used.
  • For sickle cell disease: zinc sulfate 220 mg three times daily.
  • To increase growth and weight gain in children with sickle cell disease who have not reached puberty: 10 mg elemental zinc per day.
  • For treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children: doses of zinc sulfate 55 mg (15 mg elemental zinc) to 150 mg (40 mg elemental zinc) daily.
  • For treating acne: 30-135 mg elemental zinc daily.
  • For treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD): elemental zinc 80 mg plus vitamin C 500 mg, vitamin E 400 IU, and beta-carotene 15 mg daily.

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, children, and adults, Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) quantities of zinc have been established: 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; 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.

The typical North American male consumes about 13 mg/day of dietary zinc; women consume approximately 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; adults 19 years and older (including pregnancy and lactation), 40 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 acne vulgaris: zinc acetate 1.2% with erythromycin 4% as a lotion applied twice daily.
  • For herpes simplex infections: zinc sulfate 0.25% applied 8 to 10 times daily or zinc oxide 0.3% with glycine applied every 2 hours while awake.

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