What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Zinc?

Zinc is an important element that is found in every cell in the body. More than 300 enzymes in the body need zinc in order to function properly. Although the amount of zinc we need in our daily diet is tiny, it's very important that we get it. However, the evidence suggests that many of us do not get enough. Mild zinc deficiency seems to be fairly common, and for this reason taking a zinc supplement at nutritional doses may be a good idea.

However, taking too much zinc isn’t a good idea—it can cause toxicity. In this article, we discuss the possible uses of zinc at various doses.

Use of zinc nasal spray or zinc lozenges at the beginning of a cold may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, but study results are somewhat inconsistent. 1 These treatments are thought to work by directly interfering with viruses in the nose and throat, and involve relatively high doses of zinc used for a short time.

Zinc can also be taken long-term at nutritional doses orally to improve overall immunity and reduce risk of infection; 2 however, this approach probably only works if you are deficient in zinc to begin with.

A significant body of evidence suggests that oral zinc can reduce symptoms of acne . 3 But, in most studies, potentially toxic doses were used, and in any case, the benefits appear to be rather slight.

Growing evidence suggests that oral zinc,...

Safety Issues

Zinc taken orally seldom causes any immediate side effects other than occasional stomach upset, usually when it's taken on an empty stomach. Some forms do have an unpleasant metallic taste. Use of zinc nasal gel, however, has been associated with anosmia (loss of sense of smell). 4 In fact, After receiving over 130 reports of anosmia, the FDA warned consumers and healthcare providers in 2009 to discontinue use of certain Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal zinc-containing products, including Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs and Cold Remedy Swabs in kids size. 5 Furthermore, if the gel is inhaled too deeply, severe pain may occur.

Long-term use of oral zinc at dosages of 100 mg or more daily can cause a number of toxic effects, including severe...