Zinc Health Supplementation Benefits, Side Effects, and Risks Guide


If you have ever had the common cold or even the flu, you have more than likely taken medicine that contains Zinc. Many studies have shown that Zinc is great for reducing the length of a cold by 50%, though some claim it has no effect at all. If you are eating foods that are rich in Zinc, then you will likely not need to take any Zinc supplements. Zinc has been known to help treat diaper rash, infections, and heal wounds. Studies have been conducted to see if Zinc is a good supplement for people with HIV, high cholesterol, and herpes, but the studies have been inconclusive on how helpful Zinc can be to these conditions.

If you have a Zinc deficiency, your medical doctor may recommend that you add a Zinc supplement to your diet. People with Zinc deficiencies are usually women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as strict vegetarians, and people who abuse alcohol. In most prenatal vitamins, you will find a certain amount of Zinc based on the brand and amount that your doctor puts you on. Someone who abuses alcohol will probably need a medication directly from the doctor to help build up the Zinc in their body, as a simple over the counter Zinc supplement might not be enough. There are studies that have shown that people who suffer from Crohn’s disease also have a Zinc deficiency and should talk to their doctor about adding Zinc to their diet.

When it comes to how much Zinc intake you need on a daily basis, it varies based on your age and how much food you consume that has Zinc in it. On average, infants need about 3mg of Zinc a day, while people over the age of 19 need around 40mg a day. It is recommended that you take your Zinc supplements with food to reduce your risk of stomach irritation.

When it comes to having a cold or the flu, you are better off with Zinc lozenges. You should begin taking them as soon as you feel a cold or the flu beginning and continue to take the lozenges every 2-3 hours until your symptoms are gone. While most people have success with Zinc lozenges during their colds, you should make sure you are healthy enough to take them, so consult with your doctor before you take Zinc.

Side Effects

Let’s take a look at some of the side effects that are associated with taking Zinc.

Stomach Irritation

Zinc can upset your stomach and can cause stomach irritation. Try taking your Zinc supplement with food to help coat the lining of your stomach, which will help reduce any irritation.

Sense of Smell

People who are taking Zinc lozenges for their cold or flu symptoms may notice a change in their sense of smell or taste while they are taking the lozenges. Most of the time this is temporary and will go away within a few days of discontinuing the lozenges, but you should keep an eye on it and alert your medical doctor if you notice any significant changes.

For people who are taking Zinc in the form of a nasal spray, altered sense of smell can be permanent. While it does not happen to everyone who uses the nasal spray, it is certainly something you want to be aware of before you use it.


If you are on regular medications or you are taking other supplements, you want to consult with your medical doctor before you begin adding Zinc to your routine. Zinc has been shown to interact poorly with other medications, causing them to lose their effectiveness. If you are on birth control pills or antibiotics, you should not take Zinc unless you have been cleared by your doctor. In recent studies, Zinc has been shown to have the most effect on birth control and antibiotics.


As with any other medications on the market today, there are certain risks associated with taking any kind of Zinc supplement. People who have HIV should not take Zinc without being cleared by their doctor first. Pregnant women should take the lowest dose of Zinc possible, as taking high doses can cause harm to their unborn baby.

For men and women who are not pregnant, consuming too much Zinc can also cause problems. If you consume too much Zinc, you can run into situations like fever, cough, mineral imbalances, and cholesterol changes. All of these would require you to take other forms of medication to remedy the problem.

Natural Sources

If you are unsure about taking a Zinc supplement, you can get Zinc naturally from the foods you eat. Oysters, poultry, and red meat are great sources of Zinc that are all natural. If you do not eat meat, you can also get Zinc from whole grains, beans, nuts, and some fortified cereals, so there are many options for everyone. Check the label on the foods you are buying.

If there are high levels of Zinc and you eat that food on a daily or regular basis, you may not need a Zinc supplement added to your diet. You do not want to overload your system with too much Zinc as it can have the opposite effect of what you were wanting to begin with. You will need to find that happy medium when it comes to your Zinc dosage and make sure that you are only taking the amount that you need for your body.

Final Words

As with any other type of medication or supplement, make sure you consult with your medical doctor before you begin taking a Zinc supplement. Not only will they be able to tell you if it is safe for you to take Zinc, but they will be able to help you determine the right amount of Zinc your body needs.

If your doctor clears you to begin taking Zinc supplements, make sure you do your research and find a Zinc product that is all-natural. You will be able to reap more benefits from an all-natural Zinc supplement than you would from one that contained a lot of other ingredients.

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