A component of over eighty
enzymes, zinc functions in many reactions in the human body.
Zinc is necessary for normal cell division and function.
Zinc is found in alpha-macroglobulin, an important protein
in the body’s Immune System. It is also needed for functioning
of the thymus gland.
Zinc is necessary for growth in children and maturation of
the sex organs at puberty. The mineral is also needed for
the production of male sperm and female ova.
Heavy Metal Detoxification:
Zinc helps clear certain toxic metals from the body (e.g.
cadmium and lead).
Zinc is also essential for the maintenance of vision, taste
and smell; for the release of insulin and for the absorption
and metabolism of Vitamin A .
The following may indicate that zinc is
in short supply:
Delayed Wound healing
Decreased sense of taste or smell
White marks on nails
Upper safe level for daily supplementation
Recommended Daily Allowance = 15mg
Requirements are increased in Pregnancy.
A supplement of zinc may be helpful in the
Zinc supplementation has been shown to be effective in some
types of Skin conditions, such as Acne (1) and Eczema.
The prostate contains high amounts of zinc compared to other
organs. In prostatitis (Inflammation of the prostate) and
prostate cancer zinc levels are markedly decreased (2, 3).
Zinc inhibits androgen metabolism in the prostate (2) and
may be of benefit to older men.
Low zinc levels are linked with poor Wound healing. As a result,
zinc supplementation may help to accelerate the healing process
Zinc supplementation may help prevent Cirrhosis of the liver
(5) due to Alcoholism.
Zinc is found in high quantities in the testes. Zinc deficiency
results in depletion of testosterone and inhibits sperm formation.
This mineral is also thought to extend the life span of ejaculated
sperm. In females, zinc deficiency is linked with impaired
hormone secretion, abnormal ovarian development, frequent
abortion, prolonged gestation period, still births and low
birth weight babies (6).
Zinc supplementation may reverse some of the poor behaviour
(and responsiveness) exhibited by low birth weight babies.
Zinc appears to affect brain function by modulating neurotransmitter
(GABA) production (7).
After acute ingestion of 2g or more of zinc,
symptoms such as nausea, Vomiting and fever develop. Long-term
intakes of around 75-300mg zinc are associated with features
of Copper deficiency such as neutropenia (low levels of the
neutrophil type of white blood cell) and Anaemia.
Interactions and Contra-Indications
High levels can induce a deficiency of Copper and so zinc
supplements may contain Copper to make up for this.
Excess zinc intake may interact with Iron and has the potential
to cause a deficiency of this mineral.
Zinc interferes with the absorption of the drug tetracycline
and vice versa, and so these two should be taken a few hours
Zinc supplements should not be taken on an empty stomach because
they can occasionally cause nausea.
Cortisone drugs and the thiazide diuretics are known to increase
the excretion of zinc, and penicillamine (a metal binding
drug), is known to block zinc’s absorption.
Cheese. Cheddar 4.0
Beef, stewing steak 3.8
Bread, wholemeal 1.8
Bread, white 0.6
Fish, white 0.4
Potatoes, old 0.3
1. Dreno B, et al. Low doses of zinc gluconate
for inflammatory Acne. Acta Derm Venereol, 69;6:541-3, 1989.
2. Dutkiewicz S. Zinc and Magnesium serum levels in patients
with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) before and after prazosin
therapy. Mater Med Pol, 27;1:15-17, 1995.
3.Zaichick Vye, Sviridova TV and Zaichick SV. Zinc in the
human prostate gland: normal, hyperplastic and cancerous.
Urol Nephrol, 29;5:565-574, 1997.
4. Pamela Mason "Handbook of Dietary Supplements",
, Blackwell Science, 1995.
5. Rocchi E et al. Zinc and Magnesium in liver Cirrhosis.
Eur J Clin Invest, 24;3:149-155, 1994.
6. Bedwal RS, Bahuguna A. Zinc, Copper and Selenium in reproduction.
Experimentia, 50;7:626-640, 1994.
7. Ashworth A et al. Zinc supplementation, a mental development
and behaviour in low birth weight term infants in North East
Brazil. Eur J Clin Nutrition, 52;3:223-227, 1998.