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This essential mineral plays such an important role in so many functions in our body that you can't afford to be deficient in this. Take at least the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) amount or eat foods high in zinc.

Most multi-vitamins include enough of this mineral but topping up with a separate supplement may be a good idea for some people. There is very little risk in taking double or triple of the RDA amount.

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Evidence of Benefits (Leaf Rating System)

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal The Common Cold Treatment / Sore Throat

Zinc gluconate lozenges are shown to shorten the duration of the cold symptoms in several clinical studies as well as helping with sore throat.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Acne

Studies show that low levels of this essential mineral can make the acne condition worst. Clinical studies support using zinc to help clear up acne problems.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Herpes Infection / Genital Herpes

Using zinc cream seems to lessen the severity and shorten the duration of genital herpes infection. The results seem to be better when this mineral is combined with a cream containing lysine.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Population studies seem to show that taking this mineral can lower the risk of getting AMD.

Also, clinical studies show that taking this mineral along with vitamin C (500 mg), beta-carotene (15 mg) and vitamin E (400 IU) reduces the risk of vision loss and slows down the disease.

However, not all studies reported this benefit.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Immune System Enhancement

This mineral is able to boost the immune system. It does this by pushing the thymus gland to work better in making hormones that boost the production of white blood cells.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Enlarged Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia / BPH)

This mineral plays an important role in keeping the prostate gland healthy. Some preliminary studies suggest that taking zinc helps to reduce the symptoms of BPH.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Combining this mineral with standard prescription drugs seems to help reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Some researchers found that children suffering from ADHD had a lower blood level of zinc.

Experts suggest that it may be more effective in children who were initially low in this mineral, that have a high body mass index (BMI) or who are low in essential fatty acids levels.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal

Anxiety and Stress

Low blood levels of zinc has beeen linked to increased risk of developing anxiety disorder.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Gingivitis

Many studies done show that using a mouthwash or toothpaste that contain this essential mineral can prevent gingivitis and stop plaque from forming on the teeth.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Wound healing (in burn patients)

A small study done in children showed that taking this mineral along with vitamin C and vitamin E helps wounds to heal faster.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal

Infertility in Men

Several clinical studies seems to show that taking this essential mineral helped to increase and improve the quality of the sperm.

See Zinc for Fertility for the research studies behind this particular benefit.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal

Lung Cancer

There is some preliminary evidence that patients suffering from lung cancer may have lower blood levels of zinc than the average population.

And since zinc is involved in regulating the immune system, some experts believe that supplemention may be of benefit in lung cancer.

In one study, lung cancer patients given zinc show better immune function.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Some small studies seem to show that this mineral can modestly give pain relief to those suffering from RA.

The researchers suspect that those with deficiency in this mineral might benefit more than those people who have normal levels of zinc.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

Some studies suggest that higher levels of this mineral might slow down the progression of AD. Unfortunately, other studies seem to suggest that higher levels of this mineral may also worsen AD.

Note: Until more research is done, avoid taking excessive amount and keep the dosage at the levels recommended by experts.
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Cold Sores (Herpes Labialis)

Lab studies appeared to show that zinc inhibits viral multiplication. Topical zinc sulfate seemed to reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Prostate Cancer

Lab studies show that this mineral can slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Helpful Aphrodisiac / Enhancing Libido

Studies show that zinc deficiency reduces blood levels of testosterone, thus possibly lower libido.
HelpfulYeast Infections

One small study showed that taking this mineral can help in fighting off yeast infections. However, another study was not able to verify this benefit.

Helpful Hair Loss
Some small studies done to see if taking this essential mineral helped with hair loss generated conflicting results. Some studies show it helped and other showed it did not.

High Cholesterol

Some experts believe that zinc may be helpful in lower cholesterol levels.

Studies will need to be conducted to verify this benefit.

Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ear) - Probably Not Effective

Some experts suggest that low levels of this mineral may cause tinnitus in some people. The cochlea (nerve endings in the inner ear used for hearing) is high in zinc.

However, clinical studies conducted don't seem to support this claim.

Eczema (Atopic dermatitis) - Probably Not Effective

There seems to be no difference in blood levels of this mineral in those people with or without eczema. Studies with subjects taking this mineral didn't show any improvement in their eczema condition.

Psoriasis - Probably Not Effective

Several studies show that taking this mineral as a supplement had no effect on psoriasis.

Prevention of the Common Cold - Probably Not Effective

Studies done showed that the zinc lozenges are unable to prevent you from catching the cold virus.

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Suggested Benefits and Traditional Uses

Topically (on the skin)
  • Anti-aging effect
  • Gingivitis
  • Herpes infection
  • Wound healing
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Facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is zinc?

This mineral is essential to our body for maintaining health. It is needed for enzyme functions, maintaining cell membranes and regulating DNA function and hormones. The health benefits of this mineral is listed be

It plays an essential role in:
  • maintaining the immune system and white blood cells
  • keeping tissues in the skin healthy
  • controlling the production of insulin
  • controlling the growth of bones
  • repairing damaged tissue (for example from wounds and burns)
  • metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates
  • smell, vision and taste

How do I know if I have a deficiency in zinc?

Severe deficiency in this mineral is rare except in developing countries where their diet is very poor. Signs and symptoms of severe deficiency include:
  • immune system malfunction
  • increased risk of infection
  • poor wound healing
  • night blindness
  • behaviour problems
  • severe diarrhea
  • growth problems (absence of growth)
  • problem with taste
  • lack of appetite
Mild to moderate deficiency may not cause severe symptoms listed above but may be responsible for causing a wide variety of diseases, especially in children.

What are some food sources that contain high amounts of zinc?

For a listing of common foods with a rich source of zinc, click here. Most multi-vitamin supplements contain at least the US RDA amount of zinc.

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Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

What are some side effects of taking zinc?

The common side effects of taking this trace mineral include nausea, vomiting and a metallic taste in the mouth. However, doses within the U.S. RDA guidelines will rarely cause any side effects.

What is some toxicity if I take too much or overdose on zinc? Can you take too much?

Reported side effects when taking this trace mineral in doses above the tolerable upper intake level (UL) include fever, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness and drowsiness.

Taking between 150 to 450 mg of this mineral on a daily basis is known to cause deficiency in copper, suppress the immune system and lower the "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels in the blood,

It is possible that you can take too much of this mineral in your diet, if for example, you eat oysters daily. Click here to see a listing of foods that contains this trace mineral.

There is some concern that taking over 40 mg of zinc on a daily basis may cause a deficiency in copper in your body. Some experts suggest adding copper to avoid this concern. (Most multi-vitamins do contain trace amount of copper and that should be sufficient.)

What about taking zinc during pregnancy? What's the safety of this mineral?

Avoid taking excess dose unless supervised by a healthcare professional. Over 80% of pregnant women around the world is suspected to be deficient in this mineral. Deficiency during pregnancy is suspected to contribute (in part) to premature babies, complications in labor and low birth weight.

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Dosage & How to Take It

The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is listed below for the different age ranges and gender.

Population Group RDA (daily amounts)
Infant (birth to 6 months) 2 mg
Child (7 months to 3 years) 3 mg
Child (4 to 8 years) 5 mg
Child (9 to 13 years) 8 mg
Teenager (14 to 18 years) 11 mg ( and 9 mg for female)
Men (19 years and older) 11 mg
Women 8 mg
Women (pregnant) 13 mg
Women (breastfeeding) 14 mg
Tolerable upper intake level (UL) 40 mg

Note: As this is a trace mineral, your body only needs a very small amount to completely avoid deficiency.

Doses Suggested for Various Health Problems

The Common Cold - Allow one zinc gluconate lozenge (13 to 23 mg or more) in the mouth slowly. Use one lozenge every 2 hours for one to two weeks.

Acne Conditions -
Clinical studies used 30 to 135 mg daily.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) -
Take 80 mg along with vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 IU) and beta-carotene 15 mg daily.

Enlarged Prostate and Prostate Cancer
- Experts suggest taking 15 to 30 mg daily.

Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Dosages from 15 mg to 40 mg of zinc daily were used in clinical studies.

Note: Take about 3 mg of copper with dosage of zinc above the RDA amount. It is known that high doses of this trace mineral may cause copper deficiency in the body. Find out if the multi-vitamin you take has the needed amount of zinc. Most will have enough.

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Selected References for Zinc + US RDA
Revised: April 30, 2013

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