Zinc Supplement: Benefits, Dosage, & Side Effects

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Adding a zinc supplement to your daily diet is an excellent way to ensure proper growth and development, reproductive health, and immune health, among many others.

Zinc Supplement

Zinc is considered an essential trace mineral and is essential for a number of bodily processes. However, the body is unable to store zinc, and it must continually be acquired through our food. In cases where people are experiencing a zinc deficiency, supplements are often recommended, and these supplements come in different forms.

Zinc can be chemically altered in a number of ways, and can also be chelated (an electrical charge is passed through the substance) in order to make it more accessible to the body. Some of the most common types of zinc include:

  • Zinc Orotate
  • Chelated zinc
  • Zinc oxide
  • Zinc acetate
  • Inorganic zinc
  • Zinc gluconate
  • Zinc Picolinate

The specific benefits of these different forms may vary slightly, so speak with your doctor if you are debating which would be best for your particular symptoms.

zinc supplement in a brown spoon next to oysters and lime slices

Zinc Supplement Benefits

There are several impressive benefits of zinc supplements, including its effects on diarrhea, vision loss, the common cold and more. Let us look at the most important benefits.

Diarrhea

It is believed that consuming zinc supplements during pregnancy can help an infants’ gastrointestinal health after being born, thus preventing excess diarrhea and stomach problems. There is not enough clinical trial evidence to show that zinc supplementation helps pregnant women; however, it is recommended by WHO for women, who may not have access to proper nutrition.

Common Cold

Zinc acetate and zinc gluconate are both recommended as easy remedies for the common cold, as they can stimulate the immune system. Studies have shown that the use of zinc gluconate can aid in the immune function for the skin and stimulate the overall function of our body’s defenses.

Depression 

These supplements can be used in conjunction with antidepressants to help rebalance neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Data from a double-blind randomized clinical trial in which 44 individuals diagnosed with depression were given zinc supplementation showed that it helped in the anti-depression treatment. 

Age-Related Vision Loss

One of the most popular applications of zinc supplements, studies have shown that zinc supplementation can slow inflammation and delay the onset of chronic disease like macular degeneration.

Acne

When in gel or liquid form, a zinc acetate solution can help to reduce inflammation on the skin and clear up acne symptoms, as shown in many studies over the years, particularly when used in combination with vitamin A supplementation.

Anorexia

Oral supplements have been shown to stimulate the appetite, according to a study published in Eating and Weight Disorders. Furthermore, they may help counter certain depressive symptoms that may lead to eating disorders.

ADHD

There is some speculation as to whether children with attention deficit disorders tend to have zinc deficiencies, and studies by the American Psychological Association have shown that zinc supplements can alleviate some of those symptoms.

Gingivitis

Some kinds of toothpaste that include zinc have been linked to lower levels of gingivitis and plaque on the teeth, which is always a good thing! An animal study showed that zinc deficiency could be a risk factor for oral and periodontal diseases.

Osteoporosis

Zinc is a critical mineral for our bone mass, reveals a 2016 report published in the Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism. So if you want to prevent osteoporosis as you age, zinc supplementation may be a wise option.

Zinc Supplement Dosage

Since zinc is recommended for so many different conditions, the specific dosage varies, but generally speaking, a supplement of 15-30 mg of zinc per day is sufficient. For more severe conditions, such as macular degeneration or a disorder that prevents zinc uptake by the body, higher amounts may be required, up to 80 mg per day. The daily recommendation for most healthy individuals lies between 10-15 mg per day, but to prevent deficiency symptoms, more is better than less!

Zinc Supplement Side Effects

Side effects as a result of taking zinc supplements are rare but can occur in some cases, particularly if you consume too much zinc in a given period. The most common side effects of consuming too much zinc are fatigue, fever, cough or stomach pain, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Regularly consuming high doses (greater than 100 mg) for extended periods of time may potentially contribute to your risk of prostate cancer. Children and pregnant women should only be given small doses of zinc, while those patients with HIV/AIDS or diabetes should speak with their doctor before using these supplements, as there can be complications.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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