Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Spirulina Print

Spirulina

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Also listed as: Adam's needle
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • A-84, Articulin-F, atomic number 30, Ayurvedic zinc tablet, elemental zinc, Herpigon, Indian tin, jasad bhasma, Labcatal®, MezincT, Orazinc®, pewter, Solvezink®, sodium zinc metasilicate, Virunderim Gel®, Zicam®, zinc acetate, zinc acexamate, zinc aspartate, zinc bacitracin, zinc carbonate, zinc chewing gum, zinc chloride, zinc citrate, zinc dithionite, zinc gluconate, zinc hyaluronate, zinc lozenges, zinc methionate, zinc methionine, zinc methionine sulfate, zinc monomethionine, zinc oxide, zinc oxide dressings (MezincT), zinc oxide oil, zinc picolinate, zinc pythione (ZPT), zinc stearate, zinc sulfate, zinc sulphate, Zincaps, Zincolak®, Zincomed, Zineryt® lotion, zink, Zinklet tablets, ZN, Zn, ZnSO4.
  • Selected combination products: Acexamate®, Aquaphor®, Nel's Cream®, Oxyrich, Zeta N®, Zicam® Nasal Gel, Zineryt®, Zincovit, Zinvit-C250.

Background
  • Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed for many important functions in the body. The human body contains approximately 2-3 grams of zinc, mostly in the skeletal muscles and bones. Zinc is also found in the kidney, pancreas, retina, teeth, hair, skin, liver, blood cells, prostate, and testes.
  • Zinc is available through foods such as beef, pork, shellfish, peanuts, and legumes. Severe zinc deficiency may still be found in developing countries. Deficiency may cause problems with growth, diarrhea, hair loss, and immune function. Although it is rare in developed countries, some cases may be found in elderly and pregnant people. Mild zinc deficiency may be overlooked, since symptoms are not always obvious and may include loss of hair, appetite, weight, and the senses of taste and smell.
  • Zinc has been found to be effective for treating diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and zinc deficiency. There is good evidence to support its use for acne, ADHD, herpes simplex virus, immune function, and sickle cell anemia. Zinc has also been studied for Wilson's disease (excessive copper in the body), although results are mixed. Zinc has gained popularity for preventing the common cold, but research is still unclear.
  • There is still controversy on the role of zinc for many other diseases. Much evidence is conflicting or unclear.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Studies in developing countries found that zinc may reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea in poorly nourished children, especially those with low zinc levels.

A


The healing process of stomach ulcers may be enhanced through treatment with zinc, although more studies are needed to more clearly determine its effects. Most studies report few or no side effects associated with its use.

A


Zinc deficiency is caused by inadequate intake or absorption, increased zinc excretion, or increased bodily need for zinc. Zinc deficiency symptoms include growth and development problems, hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, eye and skin conditions, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms may include weight loss, delayed wound healing, taste changes, and mental slowness. Zinc can be measured in plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and hair.

A


Zinc taken by mouth or applied to the skin seems to be a safe and effective treatment for acne. However, some results are conflicting, and many studies used combination treatments. More research on the effects of zinc alone are needed.

B


Early studies report that zinc may benefit children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Zinc may reduce hyperactive, impulsive, and social problems. Zinc may be more effective for older children with higher body mass index (BMI) scores. Further research is required.

B


Early research has looked at the use of zinc for herpes types 1 or 2. Several studies used combination treatments, so the exact role of zinc is unclear. However, most results suggest that zinc may be a safe and effective alternative treatment for herpes types 1 and 2.

B


Zinc appears to be essential for the immune system, but research on its impact on immune function is limited. Zinc gluconate may benefit immune cells. There are few studies on zinc levels and zinc use in elderly people. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

B


There is good evidence to suggest that zinc may help manage or reduce symptoms of sickle cell anemia. Most of these studies reported increased height, weight, immune system function, and testosterone levels, and decreased numbers of complications following zinc treatment.

B


Early research suggests that zinc treatment may be effective in the management of Wilson's disease. More studies are needed to confirm these early results. Galzin® (zinc acetate) is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug used to block the absorption of copper in people with Wilson's disease. It is meant to be an additional treatment to standard therapy.

B


Most studies have found a lack of positive effect of zinc on macular degeneration. However, some high-quality research has found that zinc may help prevent the disease. Since study results are conflicting, more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


In early research, supplementation that included zinc in HIV-infected children improved appetite. However, the effects of zinc alone cannot be determined at this time. More studies using zinc alone are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Chewing gum containing zinc or rinsing out the mouth with a solution containing zinc seemed to reduce bad breath in early studies. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Limited research has found that children with beta-thalassemia who took zinc supplements by mouth for 1-7 years increased in height more than those who did not take zinc. More studies are needed to confirm these findings.

C


Studies suggest a potential role for zinc supplementation in aceruloplasminemia, a blood disorder in which iron builds up in the brain. Further research is required before conclusions may be made.

C


In early research, boils in people treated with zinc did not reappear. More studies are needed to confirm this potential benefit.

C


Studies of zinc sulfate supplements given to burn victims to increase healing rate have found mixed results. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Early research reports that people undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancers had a better outcome after taking zinc than those who did not take zinc. More high-quality research is needed to confirm these findings.

C


Zinc sulfate has been studied for the treatment of canker sores. However, the results are conflicting, and a clear conclusion may not be made at this time.

C


Early studies suggest a lack of effect of zinc supplements for people with celiac disease that did not respond to other treatment. More research is needed in this area.

C


Early research suggests that zinc may have benefits on some side effects of chemotherapy. However, further study is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

C


Early studies indicate that zinc supplementation may enhance recovery in people with closed head injuries. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Early studies indicate that daily supplementation with zinc may be of limited usefulness for improving cognition in adolescent girls and lead-exposed children. Further research may be needed in this area.

C


Early studies report that zinc supplementation in people under 70 may benefit cognitive function. More studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Available studies report conflicting results on the impact of zinc on the common cold. Overall, studies suggest that if taken when symptoms begin, zinc may help treat cold symptoms. Effects are strongest in adults. Zinc gluconate is not recommended for sore throats. Further research is needed to clarify which zinc formulas are effective for reducing symptoms. More studies are needed before a firm conclusion may be drawn.

C


Zinc supplementation lacked effect on the nutritional status of people receiving CAPD in early studies. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Zinc is required for a functional immune system. In non-critically ill people, zinc supplementation has been linked to improved immune function. Further research is required in people with critical illness before conclusions may be made.

C


Early studies suggest that injecting zinc sulfate into lesions in people with leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease caused by a sandfly bite, may help improve symptoms. However, results are mixed, and more research is needed in this area.

C


Zinc supplementation does not seem to benefit lung function in children with cystic fibrosis. Further research is needed to confirm available study results.

C


Shampoo containing 1 percent zinc pyrithione has been shown to reduce dandruff in some people. More high-quality research is needed in this area.

C


In a small study, zinc supplementation lacked an effect on mental function in adults with senile dementia. Larger, more well-designed trials are needed.

C


Diabetic people typically have lower zinc levels when compared with healthy people. According to early high-quality studies, zinc supplementation in type 2 diabetics may improve zinc level and blood sugar control. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Zinc taken by mouth may improve blood sugar control and nerve pain. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Zinc may reduce the incidence of diaper rash and have a preventive effect. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


In several studies, zinc supplements seemed to benefit children with Down's syndrome. However, zinc seems to lack an effect on depressed immune systems. Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C


Zinc may benefit children with shigellosis, a bacterial infection, as an addition to standard therapy. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


There are mixed results on the effects of zinc for treating ear infections. More research is needed in this area.

C


Zinc may help treat symptoms of anorexia in young adults. More research is needed to confirm these results.

C


There are conflicting results on the link between zinc levels and eczema. Early study suggests that zinc may actually increase itching after several weeks of supplementation. Additional information is needed to help clarify these results.

C


Zinc may improve exercise performance in athletes with low serum zinc or zinc deficiencies. Additional evidence is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Gilbert's syndrome may lead to yellow of the skin and is more common in men. Zinc sulfate supplementation was found to have benefits in early research. Further study is needed to confirm these results.

C


Zinc supplementation may affect thyroid hormone profiles in people with goiter. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Studies looking at the effects of zinc on growth have found conflicting results. More research is needed in this area.

C


A few studies have reported a significant reduction in plaque following treatment with zinc rinses. Early research suggests that zinc citrate may reduce the severity of hardened plaque on the gums. However, more studies are needed to confirm such benefits. More research may help to determine zinc's potential effectiveness for other aspects of dental health.

C


Early studies on the use of zinc in treating hair loss have found conflicting results. Additional information is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Early studies looking at zinc for hepatic encephalopathy have found conflicting results.

C


Zinc may improve blood cholesterol levels in people undergoing treatment for kidney disease. There is some evidence that zinc may improve the ratio of HDL ("good cholesterol") to LDL ("bad cholesterol"), which would be considered a positive effect. More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


People with HIV/AIDS, especially those with low zinc levels, may benefit from zinc supplementation. Early studies found fewer infections, weight gain, and enhanced immune function. However, findings are conflicting. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Early research did not report a benefit of zinc in people with high prolactin levels. Further research is required before conclusions may be drawn.

C


Early research suggests that zinc supplementation may improve thyroid hormone levels in women with reduced thyroid function. More studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Although zinc is frequently thought to have positive effects on incision wound healing, few studies have looked at this use. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Clinical trial results suggest a lack of positive benefit from zinc on the mental and physical development of infants. More studies on zinc therapy alone are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Zinc may decrease incidence of infection, although this may depend on the type of infection. More research is needed in this area.

C


Many studies report benefits of zinc supplements on infertility, although this effect may depend on the cause of infertility. More information is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

C


Studies of zinc supplementation for inflammatory bowel disease have had mixed results. Some research reports positive effects for people with Crohn's disease, while others found a lack of improvement. More research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Early studies show potential improvement in people with kidney dysfunction taking zinc supplements. Zinc supplementation may be suggested only in people with proven zinc deficiency, but for all people with chronic kidney failure, it is questionable. Further research is needed to confirm available study results.

C


Short-term zinc supplementation may increase weight gain and decrease infections, swelling, diarrhea, anorexia, and skin ulcers in children with extreme malnourishment. More research is needed in this area.

C


There are conflicting findings regarding the potential benefit of zinc for healing leg ulcers. All studies, however, reported a lack of or few adverse effects. The healing process of leg ulcers may be enhanced through treatment with zinc, although further studies are needed to determine to which extent zinc may benefit people with leg ulcers.

C


A few studies have examined the use of zinc for leprosy. Studies of zinc taken by mouth have reported positive results, while other research on zinc applied to the skin has reported negative results. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


People with alcoholic liver cirrhosis may be deficient in zinc. Early studies suggest that zinc may benefit these people. Further evidence is needed to confirm these findings.

C


Early studies have shown that zinc in combination with interferon, or interferon and ribavirin, for hepatitis C viral infection lacked significant benefits. Further research may be needed in this area. Recent high-quality evidence suggests that supplementation with polaprezinc may decrease damage to liver cells.

C


Studies suggest that supplementation with zinc may reduce lower respiratory infections in children. Some studies suggest that these effects are apparent only in boys and not girls. Due to conflicting results, further research is needed before a conclusion can be made. Future studies could examine whether adult populations have a similar response.

C


Results are conflicting for the effect of zinc on malaria symptoms. Some high-quality studies suggest a lack of effect of zinc supplementation on the severity of malaria. Other studies suggest that zinc supplementation may reduce the number of stays in the hospital and the death rate. Further research is needed.

C


Zinc has been studied for its effects in malnutrition with mixed results on weight gain. Some research found that zinc supplementation may help prevent diarrhea, pneumonia, and stunting, with conflicting effects on growth.

C


Early research suggests a possible role for zinc supplementation in menstrual cramps. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings.

C


Zinc supplementation may improve mood states in young women. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Zinc sulfate may help improve symptoms of inflammation in the mouth and throat. Further study is required in this area.

C


Radiation may cause the side effect of inflammation inside the mouth, nose, and throat. Research suggests that zinc may lower the degree of inflammation in people undergoing radiation. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Evidence from available studies found a lack of association between zinc supplementation and the risk of death among children. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Zinc supplementation may improve muscle cramps in people with liver scarring. Further research is needed to confirm available study results.

C


Zinc sulfate injected into the lesions has been found to benefit people with leishmaniasis. Zinc may decrease the severity of parasite infection and reinfection, but seems to lack effect on initial infection. More research is needed to examine how zinc affects parasite life cycles. Recent high-quality studies have found that zinc and vitamin A may reduce infection rate and duration in children. Due to conflicting results, more research is needed before zinc can be recommended for the treatment of parasites.

C


A combination of spirulina extract plus zinc may be useful for the treatment of arsenic poisoning. More research is needed to confirm the effects of zinc alone.

C


Evidence is lacking to suggest that zinc offers benefits during pregnancy, although there is a possible reduction in labor complications and early deliveries. However, other results suggest a possible benefit of zinc on blood pressure during pregnancy. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Zinc supplementation may improve blood sugar tolerance in people with liver scarring. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Early studies suggest that zinc supplements taken with antibiotics may be more effective than antibiotics alone in reducing pain, urinary symptoms, quality of life, and pressure in people with long-term prostate inflammation. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


There are only a few studies that examined zinc treatment on symptoms of psoriasis. Although some evidence shows a reduction in pain and joint swelling, other studies found a lack of effect. Further research is needed to clarify these results.

C


Evidence suggests a possible role for zinc supplementation as an additional therapy for the treatment of tumor growth in the air passages. Further investigation is needed.

C


Studies on the effects on zinc on upper respiratory tract infections have produced mixed results. More studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Early studies found that zinc supplementation lacked benefit in people with rheumatic disease. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Most trials did not show significant improvements in arthritis symptoms following zinc treatment. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Studies on the effectiveness of zinc in treating ringing of the ears have found conflicting results. Further research is necessary before a conclusion can be made.

C


Several studies have been conducted in men on long-term kidney disease treatment who have sexual disorders. However, the results are conflicting. More studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Early evidence suggests that applying zinc oxide oil to the skin may help manage skin damage in people with urine leakage. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Zinc may help reduce stress in the elderly. More trials are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Results from studies investigating the potential role of zinc in treating taste and smell disorders are conflicting. More research is needed to determine if zinc contributes to the treatment of taste and smell disorders.

C


Results from studies investigating the potential role of zinc in treating taste and smell disorders in people with cancer or kidney disease are mixed. Recent studies showed a lack of benefit of zinc supplementation on taste changes in people undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Well-designed research is needed in this area.

C


Zinc pyrithione shampoo may be an effective treatment for tinea versicolor. Side effects were not noted in available research. Additional research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Zinc hyaluronate may help heal foot ulcers in people with diabetes. More studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Little research is available on the use of zinc for the treatment of trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) causing inflammation of the vagina. A zinc sulfate douche and the prescription antibiotic metronidazole may help treat people with this condition. However, more research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C


Early research suggests that zinc sulfate may be effective for viral warts. More studies are needed to clarify early study results.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Aging (frailty), alcoholism, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic (skin), asthma, birth control, bone diseases, bowel disorders (short bowel syndrome), cleansing (douching), clogged arteries, diabetic eye disease, energy (children), enlarged prostate, eye disorders, human papilloma virus (HPV), Huntington's disease, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), hypoxia (lack of oxygen), menopause, mental disorders, osteoarthritis, pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation), Parkinson's disease, poisoning (nickel), postpartum depression, schizophrenia, seizures, skin disorders, spleen disorders, toxicity, tuberculosis, wound healing (general wounds).

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Note: Avoid use of intranasal Zicam®. Numerous reports exist of loss of smell associated with zinc-containing Zicam® products. These zinc-containing formulas have since been withdrawn from the U.S. market.
  • The current recommended dietary allowance for zinc taken by mouth is: 11 milligrams for males 19 years old and older; 8 milligrams for females 19 years and older; 11 milligrams for pregnant females 19 years old and older; and 12 milligrams for lactating females 19 years and older.
  • For acne, doses of 40-300 milligrams of zinc sulfate two or three times daily with or without food have been taken by mouth for 4-12 weeks. 30-200 milligrams of zinc gluconate prior to a meal daily for 2-3 months has also been studied. The following preparations have been used on the skin: zinc (1.2-1.3%) combined with 4% erythromycin two times daily for up to one year; Nel's cream (containing chloroxylenol and zinc oxide and 5% benzoyl peroxide) two times daily for eight weeks; and 2% zinc sulfate in propylene glycol and ethanol applied three times daily for 12 weeks.
  • For acrodermatitis enteropathica (a rare inherited form of zinc deficiency), experts recommend 1-3 milligrams of zinc sulfate or gluconate salts per kilogram, taken by mouth daily. 45-220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For age-related macular degeneration, 80-200 milligrams has been used with food once daily or in two divided doses for 2-7 years.
  • For hair loss, Zincomed, containing 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate, has been taken by mouth twice daily for three months.
  • For canker sores, 220-660 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken daily by mouth.
  • For burns, 660 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken daily by mouth.
  • For cancer, 90 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth daily for five days, with a maintenance dose of 180 milligrams daily. Zinc gluconate (two tablets, each containing 10 milligrams of zinc) has also been used daily for 10 days.
  • For chemotherapy side effects, 45 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily on the first day of radiation therapy, and one month after finishing treatment. Zinc gluconate has also been taken by mouth.
  • For rheumatic disease, 45 milligrams of zinc by mouth daily for two months was not associated with beneficial effects on clinical outcomes or inflammatory indexes.
  • For cognitive function, 15-30 milligrams of zinc by mouth daily for six months improved spatial working memory. However, unfavorable effects were observed on attention with the 15 milligram daily dose.
  • For the common cold, doses have ranged from 4.5-24 milligrams of zinc (gluconate or acetate) in the form of lozenges taken by mouth every 1-3 hours for 3-14 days or until symptoms resolved. Ten millimoles of zinc gluconate nasal spray has been used in the nose every 15-30 minutes. A loading dose of 46 milligrams of zinc gluconate has been used.
  • For people on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), 100 milligrams of elemental zinc by mouth daily for three months did not improve nutritional status.
  • For skin disorders (leishamaniasis), 2.5-10 milligrams of zinc sulfate per kilogram by mouth for 45 days has shown beneficial effects. Cure rates were dose dependent. Intralesional injections of 2% zinc sulfate have also been studied.
  • For cystic fibrosis, 30 milligrams of zinc gluconate has been taken by mouth daily for 12 months.
  • For dandruff, shampoo containing 1 percent zinc pythione (ZPT) has been used.
  • For dementia, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate (containing 50 milligrams of elemental zinc) has been used by mouth three times daily for 24 weeks.
  • For diabetes and diabetic nerve pain, 660 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth for six weeks.
  • For people on dialysis, 50 milligrams of zinc by mouth has been used daily for blood cell effects.
  • For Down's syndrome, 135 milligrams of zinc sulfate taken by mouth daily for two months improved immune function.
  • For people receiving dialysis, 50 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily.
  • For eating disorders, 45-100 milligrams of zinc (zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, or zinc acetate) has been taken daily by mouth. Twenty-five milligrams of zinc as zinc acetate in a solution taken daily by mouth 30 minutes before each of three meals, for three weeks in people with bulimia nervosa and for four weeks in people with anorexia nervosa, has been studied. A dose of 40 micromoles of zinc has been injected into the vein daily for seven days, followed by 15 milligrams by mouth daily for 60 days.
  • For eczema, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken daily by mouth (duration not specified).
  • For exercise performance, 20 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for seven days.
  • For boils, 45 milligrams of zinc (Solvezink®, Tika) has been used by mouth three times daily for four weeks.
  • For stomach ulcers, 300 milligrams of A-84 (e-acetamide zinc caproate) has been taken with meals three times daily for three weeks, and 300-900 milligrams of zinc acexamate has been taken with or without food 1-3 times daily for up to 90 days, sometimes followed by 600 milligrams of zinc acexamate once daily before bed for another three months. A single dose of 600 milligrams of zinc acexamate has been taken by mouth. Doses of 900-1,800 milligrams have been taken by mouth in steadily increasing doses daily for four weeks.
  • For Gilbert's syndrome, 40 milligrams of zinc sulfate in a single dose by mouth has been used for acute conditions. For chronic conditions, 100 milligrams of zinc sulfate in a single dose has been used by mouth for seven days.
  • For bad breath, one or two pieces of a zinc chewing gum has been chewed for at least 10 minutes, three times daily for one week.
  • For hepatic encephalopathy, 600 milligrams of zinc sulfate or zinc acetate has been taken by mouth daily for 7-10 days.
  • For herpes simplex virus, the following has been applied to the skin: 0.3% zinc oxide/glycine cream applied every two hours until the sore resolves or for 21 days; Virunderim Gel®, containing 10 milligrams of zinc sulfate, for up to 12 days; 0.01-0.05% zinc sulfate solution applied often during a breakout and once per week during remission; and 4% zinc sulfate solution in water.
  • For high cholesterol, 7.7 micromoles of zinc sulfate (50 milligrams of elemental zinc) has been taken by mouth daily for 90 days, and 150 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for 12 weeks. Doses of 15-160 milligrams have been taken daily for 4-52 weeks.
  • For high prolactin levels, acute administration of 37.5 milligrams of zinc sulfate (as zinc sulfate diluted in 20 milliliters of deionized water) every 30 minutes for 240 minutes was not shown to have an effect on prolactin levels. Chronic administration of 47.7 milligrams of zinc three times daily for 60 days was also not shown to have an effect on prolactin levels.
  • For HIV/AIDS, 10-200 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth daily for 14 days to 18 months as an aid to immune response, and 125 milligrams of zinc gluconate taken by mouth twice daily for three weeks increased the levels of immune cells.
  • For immune function, the following doses have been taken by mouth in various people: in the elderly, 12-150 milligrams of elemental zinc daily for up to one month, or 440 milligrams of zinc sulfate in two divided doses daily for one month, or 100 milligrams of zinc daily for three months; in people with alcoholic cirrhosis, 200 milligrams of zinc sulfate for two months; in people with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 0.02 milligrams of zinc per kilogram of body weight (duration unspecified); in healthy men, 30 milligrams of zinc daily for 14 weeks; in people with cancer, two tablets of zinc gluconate (each containing 10 milligrams of zinc) daily for 10 days; and 120 milligrams of zinc sulfate after dialysis sessions. A 10% zinc sulfate in Aquaphor® ointment has also been applied to the skin as a one-time dose. Intravenous zinc (dose unavailable) for eight weeks has been used. 30 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been used for the first three days of total parenteral nutrition. A dose of 17.3 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been administered intravenously in saline daily for 28 days. A dose of 30 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth daily during the first three days of nutrition injected into the vein. Doses of 10-20 milligrams of zinc gluconate have been taken by mouth daily for 120 days.
  • For impaired glucose tolerance, 200 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth three times daily for 60 days.
  • For incision wounds, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily following surgery to promote wound healing.
  • For infertility, the following doses have been taken by mouth: 50 milligrams of zinc daily in people undergoing hemodialysis; 66 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily for 26 weeks in fertile and subfertile males to increase sperm count; 250 milligrams of zinc sulfate twice daily for three months; 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate (Zincolak® caps, Shalaks Chemicals) once daily for four months; 440 milligrams of zinc sulfate for up to 24 months; 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate for impotence and hypogonadism in people with hepatic cirrhosis; and 500 milligrams of zinc daily with hydrochlorothiazide. Zinc-L-hydrogen-aspartate solution added to 10 liters of commercially available dialysis concentrate to achieve a plasma zinc concentration of 19.5-25 micromoles per liter has been used. Zinc chloride added to dialysate to achieve a serum zinc concentration of 17% has been used for six weeks. A dose of 150 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily in three divided doses. A dose of 250 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth twice daily for three months. Doses of 66-500 milligrams of zinc sulfate have been taken by mouth daily for 13-26 weeks.
  • For mouth and throat inflammation, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth once daily after meals for 10 days.
  • For inflammatory bowel disease, 300 milligrams of zinc aspartate (equal to 60 milligrams of elemental zinc) has been taken by mouth daily for four weeks. In people with ulcerative colitis, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily for 3-4 weeks. 200 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth daily for three months in people with Crohn's disease. Zinc sulfate at a dose of 110 milligrams has been taken by mouth three times daily for eight weeks.
  • For intestinal malabsorption, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 100 milligrams three times daily; and 19 milligrams daily.
  • For leg ulcers, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate 1-3 times daily for up to 12 months; 660 milligrams daily; and 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate three times daily (duration not specified). The following has been applied to the skin: 250-510 micrograms of zinc oxide per square centimeter in polyvinyl pyrrolidone; zinc oxide dressings (MezincT) for eight weeks; gauze compress medicated with zinc oxide (400 micrograms of zinc oxide per square centimeter) for eight weeks; and zinc oxide (400 micrograms of zinc oxide per square centimeter) applied to gauze compresses, changed once daily for 8 weeks.
  • For leprosy, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth as an adjunct to leprosy medication daily for up to 18 months. Zinc oxide tape (approximately 30%) on leprosy wounds has also been used.
  • For liver cirrhosis, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 200 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily for two months; 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate twice daily for 12 weeks; and 200 milligrams three times daily for 42-60 days.
  • For mood disorders, seven milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for 10 weeks.
  • For muscle cramps in people with cirrhosis, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks.
  • For nickel-positive people, 100 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily for 30 days.
  • For plaque or gingivitis, the following has been used: a mouthwash with 0.001% zinc twice daily for three weeks; a dentifrice containing 0.5% zinc citrate as a substitute for toothpaste three times daily for 12 weeks; a dentifrice containing 0.5% zinc citrate trihydrate, 0.15% fluoride as sodium monofluorophosphate, silica abrasive, and 0.20% triclosan twice daily in combination with normal brushing for four weeks; and 10 milliliters of an active mouthwash of 0.2% zinc citrate (600 parts per million of zinc) for one minute twice daily for seven days.
  • For pregnancy, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc is as follows: 11 milligrams daily for pregnant women 19 years of age and older; or 12 milligrams daily in pregnant women 14-18 years of age. The following doses have been taken by mouth: 14 milligrams of iron and 250 micrograms of folate with 15 milligrams of zinc from week 10-24 of gestation until delivery; 44 milligrams of zinc (Zinclet®, Gunnar Kjems Aps) from <20 weeks of gestation until delivery; 66 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily after breakfast in women who were <20 weeks of gestation until delivery; 30-90 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily starting in the 20th week of pregnancy until delivery; and 22.5 milligrams of zinc as citrate in effervescent tablets for the last 15-25 weeks of pregnancy. A dose of 22.5 milligrams of zinc as citrate in tablets has been taken by mouth for the last 15-25 weeks of pregnancy. Zinc tablets (25 milligrams) have been taken by mouth throughout pregnancy until six weeks following delivery. Doses of 15-62 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily beginning around the middle of the second trimester (16-20 weeks) and continuing until birth. Doses of zinc ranging from 5-90 milligrams have been taken by mouth daily starting from at least 26 weeks' pregnancy.
  • For psoriasis, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate three times daily for up to six months; 50 milligrams of elemental zinc three times daily; and one tablet containing 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate (45 milligrams of elemental zinc) daily after an evening meal for 12 weeks.
  • For upper respiratory tract infections, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 15 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily (duration unspecified); and 23 milligrams of zinc gluconate lozenges daily as an initial dose of four lozenges, then one lozenge every two hours for seven days.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, 200-220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily for up to eight months.
  • For sexual dysfunction, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate for impotence and hypogonadism in people with hepatic cirrhosis for 6-8 months; 500 milligrams of zinc as a supplement with hydrochlorothiazide for sexual side effects; and 150 milligrams of zinc daily in three divided doses in men undergoing hemodialysis. Doses of 25-50 milligrams of zinc acetate have been taken by mouth for up to six months. Zinc chloride added to dialysate to achieve a serum zinc concentration of 17 percent has been taken for six weeks. A dose of 400 micrograms per liter of zinc chloride in the dialysate has been taken for four weeks. Zinc-L-hydrogen-aspartate solution has been added to 10 liters of commercially available dialysis concentrate over 12 weeks. A dose of 400 micrograms per liter of zinc chloride has been added to the dialysis bath.
  • For sickle cell anemia management, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate three times daily; 50-75 milligrams of zinc daily for up to three years; a solution of 1% zinc sulfate in distilled water; 15 milligrams of zinc as acetate; 25 milligrams every four hours; 15 milligrams of zinc as acetate three times daily for 12 months; and 660 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily. Up to 75 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth once daily for 12 months or 25 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth twice daily for an average of four months.
  • For skin damage caused by incontinence, zinc oxide oil (concentration and frequency unspecified) has been applied to the skin for 14 days.
  • For stress, 10 milligrams of elemental zinc has been taken by mouth daily (duration unspecified) in the elderly.
  • For taste disturbances, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 15-30 milligrams daily (duration unspecified); 140 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily (duration unspecified); 29 milligrams of zinc picolinate three times daily for three months; 100 milligrams of zinc ion for three months; 15 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily for 95 days; 158 milligrams of anhydrous zinc gluconate three times daily for four months; 45 milligrams of zinc sulfate three times daily after meals; 100 milligrams of zinc ion for three months; 100 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily for 4-6 months; 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily for six weeks or 50 milligrams of zinc acetate in people undergoing hemodialysis. The following intravenous doses of zinc have also been used: 20-100 milliliters of a 4.25% zinc-L-hydrogen aspartate solution added to 10 liters of a commercially available dialysis concentrate to achieve a plasma concentration of 19.5-20.5 micromoles per liter; and 400 micrograms of zinc chloride per liter of dialysate for four weeks. A dose of 100 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth daily for 4-6 months. Doses of 25-100 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily. A dose of 0.2 grams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For tinea versicolor, 1% lathered zinc pyrithione shampoo has been applied using a long-handled brush to the trunk, arms, and thighs for five minutes prior to taking a shower once daily in the evening for 14 days.
  • For ringing in the ears, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 22 milligrams of zinc (administered as zinc sulfate in sustained-release tablets) three times daily for eight weeks; 50 milligrams of zinc daily for two months; and 34-68 milligrams of zinc daily for two weeks.
  • For trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted disease), 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate has been taken by mouth twice daily for three weeks in people unresponsive to metronidazole.
  • For ulcers (foot ulcers), zinc hyaluronate gel has been applied once daily to the ulcer surface after cleaning it with physiologic saline solution (dose unspecified).
  • For viral warts, 10 milligrams of zinc sulfate per kilogram has been taken by mouth daily (up to 600 milligrams daily) for 2-6 months. An ointment containing 20 percent zinc oxide has been applied to the skin twice daily for three months or distilled water containing 5-10 percent zinc sulfate, three times daily for four weeks.
  • For Wilson's disease, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 25-600 milligrams of zinc 3-5 times daily; and 100-1,200 milligrams of zinc sulfate three times daily for eight days to 27 years.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • The current recommended dietary allowance for zinc taken by mouth is: 2 milligrams for 0 to six month-olds; 3 milligrams for seven month-olds to three year-olds; 5 milligrams for 4-8 year-olds; 8 milligrams for 9-13 year-olds; 11 milligrams for males 14-18 years old; 9 milligrams for 14-18 year-old females; 12 milligrams for 14-18 year-old pregnant females; and 13 milligrams for 14-18 year-old breastfeeding females.
  • For acrodermatitis enteropathica, 525 micromoles of zinc has been used by mouth daily in a 16 year-old male.
  • For attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 150 milligrams of zinc sulfate sprinkled into a breakfast drink daily for 12 weeks; 55 milligrams of zinc sulfate (containing approximately 15 milligrams of elemental zinc) in addition to one milligram of methylphenidate per kilogram, daily for six weeks; and 30 milligrams of zinc oxide with or without 30 milligrams of iron for six months. Doses of 15-30 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for up to 13 weeks.
  • For beta-thalassemia, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth, based on age: 22.5-45 milligrams of elemental zinc (for ages 1-4 years); 67.5 milligrams of elemental zinc (for ages 4-10); and 90 milligrams of elemental zinc (for ages 10 and up).
  • For cognitive function, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 30 milligrams of zinc oxide with or without 30 milligrams of ferrous fumarate for six months; and 30 milligrams of zinc oxide with or without 30 milligrams of iron for six months.
  • For the common cold, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 10 milligrams of zinc lozenges 5-6 times daily, based on age; one-half of a zinc lozenge (23 milligrams) (Truett Laboratories, TX), for children under 27 kilograms, every two hours, not to exceed six daily; and zinc gluconate glycine lozenges (Cold-EEZE®) four times daily for the duration of the cold. Lozenges containing 10-23 milligrams of zinc gluconate have been taken by mouth every 2 hours or 5-6 times daily until symptoms resolved or syrup containing 15 milligrams of zinc sulfate twice daily for up to ten days.
  • For cystic fibrosis, tablets containing zinc sulfate (equivalent to 45 milligrams of elemental zinc) have been taken by mouth twice daily for six months, in people 12 and older (children under 12 received half of the dose).
  • For diaper rash, 10 milligrams of zinc gluconate has been taken by mouth for four months as an adjunct to antifungal cream.
  • For diarrhea, the World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend short-term zinc supplementation (10-14 days) (20 milligrams of zinc daily or 10 milligrams of zinc daily for infants < 6 months) for the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea. The following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 10-20 milligrams of zinc 1-2 times daily for up to six months; 50-70 milligrams weekly for 12 months; for children aged 3-6 months, 22.5 milligrams of elemental zinc; for children aged 7-60 months, 45 milligrams of elemental zinc daily until the resolution of diarrhea but not exceeding five days; 15 milligrams (for those aged ?12 months) or 30 milligrams (for those aged >12 months) of elemental zinc daily in three divided doses for 14-30 days; zinc gluconate (10 milligrams of elemental zinc to infants and 20 milligrams to older children); 14.2-40 milligrams of zinc daily in children aged 3-24 months; 20 milligrams of zinc acetate in addition to oral rehydration solution (ORS) for 14 days; 10 milligrams of zinc in four milliliters of liquid daily for seven months; zinc syrup (15 milligrams of zinc for 6-11 month-old children and 30 milligrams for 12-35 month-old children); multivitamin juice with 15 milligrams of zinc acetate per kilogram of body weight; and 5-20 milligrams daily for the duration of the illness. Doses of 5-45 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth 1-2 times daily for 7-14 days or until the resolution of diarrhea. Doses of 5-70 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily, weekly, or biweekly for 2-72 weeks, as zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc methionate, and zinc acetate.
  • For Down syndrome, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: one milligram of zinc sulfate per kilogram of body weight for 2-4 months; 25 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily for children aged 1-9 years and 50 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily for children older than nine years of age, both for 12 months; 20 milligrams of zinc per kilogram daily for two months; and 135 milligrams of zinc daily for two months.
  • For dysentery, 20 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for two weeks.
  • For ear infections, 3-70 milligrams of elemental zinc has been taken by mouth daily as zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, and zinc chloride for 4-24 months. A formula fortified with 15 milligrams per liter of zinc chloride has been taken by infants daily for 105 days.
  • For eating disorders, 25 milligrams of zinc as zinc acetate in a solution has been taken daily by mouth 30 minutes before each of three meals for three weeks. Doses of 45-90 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily. Doses of 50-100 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily for six weeks to six months or until a 10 percent increase in body mass index.
  • For eczema, 22.5 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth three times daily (in sustained-release capsules) for eight weeks.
  • For growth, 5-20 milligrams of elemental zinc has been taken by mouth daily for up to six months. Doses of 1-20 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily for 8-64 weeks.
  • For HIV/AIDS, 1.8-2.2 milligrams of zinc per kilogram has been taken by mouth daily for 3-4 weeks. A dose of 10 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth for 6-14.9 months. Doses of 10-100 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily for two weeks to 18 months.
  • For infant development, 10-20 milligrams of elemental zinc, based on age, has been taken by mouth daily for four months. A minimum of one recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc has been taken by mouth as tablets or syrups for 14 days or more within the first month of birth.
  • For infection, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 30-50 milligrams of zinc five times per week for 12 months for Schistosoma mansoni infection; 20 milligrams of zinc daily with or without 20 milligrams of iron five days per week for one year for episodes of infectious disease.
  • For kwashiorkor, 2-5 milligrams of zinc per kilogram has been taken by mouth for one week.
  • For leg ulcers, 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate heptahydrate (50 milligrams elemental zinc) has been taken by mouth daily.
  • For lower respiratory tract infections, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 10 milligrams of zinc daily for six months; 10 milligrams of zinc sulfate in four milliliters of liquid daily for seven months; 10 milligrams for infants and 20 milligrams for older children for four months; and 10 milligrams of zinc twice daily for five days. Doses of 5-40 milligrams of zinc or zinc sulfate have been taken by mouth 1-2 times daily for up to 12 months. Two teaspoons (35 milligrams of zinc acetate per 5 milliliters) have been taken by mouth once weekly for 12 months. Ten milliliters of a syrup containing a total of 70 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for at least five days. Doses of 20-140 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth weekly in divided doses for 4-18 months.
  • For malaria, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 12.5 milligrams of zinc sulfate six days per week for six months; 10 milligrams of zinc six days per week for up to 46 weeks; and 20 milligrams of zinc daily for infants and 40 milligrams of zinc daily for older children, each for four days.
  • For malnutrition, 40 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily in three divided doses. Other doses taken by mouth included 1.5-10 milligrams per kilogram, 6.6 milligrams, or 15 milligrams per liter of zinc daily for up to three months.
  • For mortality reduction, 5-10 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth, based on age, for a mean of 484.7 days. Doses of 10-20 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth daily to weekly for up to six months.
  • For parasites, 10 milligrams of zinc as amino acid chelate has been taken by mouth.
  • For plaque or gingivitis, 0.5% zinc citrate dentifrice has been used in the mouth for three years (frequency unspecified).
  • For pneumonia, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: two teaspoons (35 milligrams of zinc acetate per five milliliters) once weekly for 12 months; 10-20 milligrams of zinc, based on age, daily for 14 days as an adjuvant to antibiotics; and 10 milligram tablets of zinc sulfate twice daily during hospitalization, along with standard therapy for severe pneumonia.
  • For shigellosis (adjunct therapy), 20 milligrams of zinc has been taken by mouth daily for two weeks.
  • For sickle cell anemia management, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 10 milligrams of zinc daily in five milliliters of cherry soup; 660 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily; and 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate three times daily. Doses of 10-66 milligrams of zinc have been taken by mouth 1-3 times daily for up to five years.
  • For taste disturbances, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 1 milligram of zinc chelate per kilogram daily for three months; and 0.5-0.75 milligrams of zinc sulfate per kilogram daily for six months in people with renal failure.
  • For taste perception (hemodialysis, cancer), zinc sulfate capsules, containing 15 milligrams of zinc for children <10 years of age or 50 milligrams for adolescents, have been taken by mouth for six weeks (frequency unspecified).
  • For Wilson's disease, the following doses of zinc have been taken by mouth: 25 milligrams of zinc twice daily for children 1-5 years of age; for people 6-15 years of age, if under 125 pounds of body weight, 25 milligrams of zinc three times daily; 50 milligrams of zinc three times daily for children 16 years and older or over 125 pounds; 35 milligrams of elemental zinc twice daily for children under the age of six; 25 milligrams three times daily for children 7-16 or under 125 pounds of body weight; 50 milligrams three times daily for children older than 16 years of age or over 125 pounds; and D-penicillamine, followed by treatment with 150 milligrams of zinc sulfate, three times daily for the first doses, then 100 milligrams three times daily.
  • For skin disorders (leishmaniasis), 2 percent zinc sulfate has been injected into lesions.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to zinc compounds.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Zinc is likely safe when taken by mouth in food, at levels commonly found in foods, or at levels lower than the tolerable upper level (UL). The UL for zinc is 4 milligrams daily for infants up to six months, 5 milligrams daily for infants 7-12 months, 7 milligrams daily for children 1-3 years, 12 milligrams daily for children 4-8years, 23 milligrams daily for children 9-13 years, 34 milligrams daily for children 14-18 years, and 40 milligrams daily for adults 19 and older.
  • Zinc is possibly safe when levels higher than the UL are used under the guidance of a physician.
  • Zinc may cause anorexia, asthma-related symptoms, blood disorders, changes in attention, changes in copper metabolism, changes in iron levels, changes in skin pigmentation, changes in thyroid function, changes in zinc levels, bad or different taste, bloating, changes in cholesterol levels, constipation, decreased zinc absorption, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth or nose, fatigue, feeling of burning or tingling, genital or urinary complications, headache, hormone changes, immune changes, increased risk of cancer, increased risk of lung or breathing disorders or infections, increased zinc in the urine, indigestion, kidney inflammation, liver failure or inflammation, loss of smell, mouth ulcers, nausea, skin symptoms, stomach cramps or bleeding, throat irritation, tingling in the nose, tissue death, and vomiting.
  • Zinc may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Zinc may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Use cautiously in people with or at risk of blood disorders, cancer, copper deficiency, genital or urinary conditions, heart disease, immune disorders, iron deficiency, kidney disorders, liver disease, lung disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, nervous system disorders, skin disorders, stomach disorders, and thyroid disorders.
  • Use cautiously in people who are taking ACE inhibitors, agents that affect the immune system, agents that promote urination, antibiotics, anticancer agents (cisplatin), bromelain, caffeine, calcium, cholesterol-lowering agents, chromium, citric acid, copper, corticosteroids, dairy foods, deferoxamine, dexrazoxane, disulfuram, EDTA chelation, estrogens and phytoestrogens, ethanol, fiber, folic acid, histamine-2 (H(2) blocker cimetidine (Tagamet®), iron, magnesium, penicillamine, phenytoin, phosphorus, phytic acid, propofol, proton pump inhibitors, sugar and sugar alcohols, tartaric acid, thyroid hormones, valproate, and zidovudine.
  • Avoid in amounts exceeding the UL with a doctor's care. The UL for zinc is 4 milligrams daily for infants up to six months, 5 milligrams daily for infants 7-12 months, 7 milligrams daily for children 1-3 years, 12 milligrams daily for children 4-8 years, 23 milligrams daily for children 9-13 years, 34 milligrams daily for children 14-18 years, and 40 milligrams daily for adults 19 and older.
  • Avoid using Zicam® products applied to the nose. These zinc-containing formulas have been withdrawn from the U.S. market.
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to zinc compounds.
  • Avoid in people who are at risk for hemochromatosis (a metabolic disorder involving iron-containing pigments in the tissues).
  • Avoid using for longer than 6-8 weeks for the common cold.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Zinc is likely safe when taken by mouth in amounts generally found in foods (or as part of a multivitamin/multimineral compound) at levels less than the UL in non-allergic women.
  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc during pregnancy and breastfeeding is as follows: for pregnant women 19 years old and older, 11 milligrams daily; for pregnant women 14-18 years of age, 13 milligrams daily; for breastfeeding women 19 years of age and older, 12 milligrams daily; and for breastfeeding women 14-18 years of age, 14 milligrams daily.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Zinc may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Zinc may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Zinc may also interact with acetazolamide, agents that affect the immune system, agents that are used for the blood, agents that are used for the liver, agents that are used for mental disorders, agents that are used for osteoporosis, agents that promote urination, agents that treat retrovirus infections (HIV), agents that treat ringing in the ears, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or receptor blockers, anti-acne agents, anti-arthritis agents, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antidiarrheals, antifungal agents, anti-inflammatory agents, anti-malaria agents, anti-parasite agents, anti-seizure agents, antiulcer agents, antivirals, aphrodisiacs, blood pressure-lowering agents, caffeine, calcium salts, carbenoxolone analog (BX24), central nervous system stimulants, cholera vaccine, cholesterol-lowering agents, cognitive agents, cold and flu agents, corticosteroids, deferoxamine (Desferal®), dental agents, dexrazoxane, disulfiram, ethambutol, ethanol (alcohol), exercise performance enhancement agents, eye agents, fertility agents, fluoroquinolones, H2 blockers, hormonal agents, kidney agents, methylphenidate, nervous system agents, niacin, pain relievers, pancreatic enzyme replacements, penicillamine (Cuprimine®), phenytoin, propofol, proton pump inhibitors, sickle cell agents, skin agents, stomach agents, thyroid hormones, tricyclic antidepressants, trientine, vaccines, wound-healing agents, and zidovudine.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Zinc may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Zinc may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Zinc may also interact with anti-arthritis herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antidepressants, antidiarrheals, antifungal herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, anti-malaria agents, antioxidants, anti-parasite herbs and supplements, anti-seizure herbs and supplements, antiulcer herbs and supplements, antivirals, aphrodisiacs, ascorbic acid, athletic performance enhancers, blood pressure-lowering herbs and supplements, bromelain, caffeine, calcium salts, carotene, cat's claw, chelation therapy, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, chromium, citric acid, cognitive herbs and supplements, cold and flu herbs and supplements, copper, dental herbs and supplements, ethanol (alcohol), fatty acids, fertility herbs and supplements, folic acid, Hemidesmus indicus, herbs and supplements believed to have estrogenic properties, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that affect the thyroid, herbs and supplements that promote urination, herbs and supplements used for acne, herbs and supplements used for the blood, herbs and supplements used for the eyes, herbs and supplements used for the liver, herbs and supplements used for the lungs, herbs and supplements used for mental disorders, herbs and supplements used for osteoporosis, herbs and supplements used for retrovirus infections, herbs and supplements used for ringing in the ears, herbs and supplements used for the skin, hormonal herbs and supplements, IP-6 (phytic acid), iron salts, magnesium, manganese, mushroom extracts, nervous system herbs and supplements, niacin, nicotinamide, pain relievers, pancreatic enzyme replacements, phosphorous, resveratrol, riboflavin, selenium, sickle cell herbs and supplements, stimulants, stomach herbs and supplements, sugar alcohols, tartaric acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, and wound-healing herbs and supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
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  3. Fairweather-Tait SJ. Contribution made by biomarkers of status to an FP6 Network of Excellence, EURopean micronutrient RECommendations Aligned (EURRECA). Am.J Clin Nutr. 2011;94(2):651S-654S.
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Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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