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What is a zinc supplement good for?

Zinc is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in almost all foods, including seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables. 

So what is a zinc supplement good for?

Zinc is good for the immune system because it helps to fight infection and disease. It also plays a vital role in growth, reproduction, wound healing and maintaining healthy skin.

Why Do People Take Zinc Supplements?

While many people take zinc supplements for general wellness, others do so specifically to treat conditions like acne, cold sores, diarrhoea, dry mouth, eczema, hair loss, herpes, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle cramps, nail fungus, osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome, psoriasis, rosacea, seasonal allergies, sinusitis, skin rashes, stomach ulcers, thrush, and yeast infections.

Zinc can also be used as an alternative treatment for HIV/AIDS and other diseases caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It has been shown to help prevent or slow the progression of HIV infection.

May improve immune function

The body needs zinc to maintain proper immune system function. Studies show that people with low zinc levels are more likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. A recent study found that taking zinc supplements during the flu season reduces illness’s severity and shortens the common cough’s duration.

Reduces inflammation

Another way zinc works is as an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is part of the body’s normal healing process. However, too much inflammation can lead to pain and discomfort. For example, inflammation causes your tongue to swell and itch when you have a sore throat.

Protects from oxidative stress

In addition, zinc helps protect us from oxidative stress, a form of damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that cause cell damage and contribute to ageing and inflammatory diseases. Oxidative stress leads to a weakened immune system, making it harder to fight off illnesses.

Accelerates Wound Healing

Zinc is commonly used in hospital settings as a treatment for burns and other types of skin injury. People who have diabetes are prone to developing foot ulcers due to poor circulation and nerve damage.

A recent study found that patients taking a daily dose of 200 mg of zinc had faster wound healing times than those receiving a placebo.

Healthy mucus membranes

Finally, zinc plays a role in maintaining healthy mucous membranes. Mucus is produced in small amounts throughout the body to keep airways moist and clear. But the mucus produced increases when there isn’t enough zinc in the diet. This can lead to coughing and phlegm production.

Sense of smell

You need zinc to taste and smell. Because one of the main enzymes required for proper taste is dependent on this nutrient, a zinc deficiency can impair your ability to sense these tastes.

Formation of hormones

It is also necessary for the formation of hormones like testosterone and estrogen. These hormones play a significant role in sexual development and reproductive health.

How much zinc do I need each day?

The NHS recommends that adults take 9.5 milligrammes (mg) of zinc daily. This includes both male and female adults. Zinc helps maintain muscle strength and bone health. A healthy, well-balanced diet will usually provide enough zinc.

If you are eating foods such as lean red meat, fish, eggs and beans, nuts and seeds, pulses, whole grains, dairy products and vegetables, you should be able to meet your needs without having to supplement.

However, some people find it difficult to absorb zinc from food alone. For example, you may need extra zinc supplements if you suffer from Crohn’sCrohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Taking too much can interfere with another essential mineral: copper. “Zinc reduces the amount of copper the body can absorb, so high doses of zinc can result in copper deficiency,” explains Ivanir.


Zinc supplements

The NHS says there’s no evidence that people who regularly eat foods rich in zinc – such as oysters, beef liver, chicken, lamb, pork, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach, eggs, cheese, milk and yoghurt – suffer from low levels of zinc. However, some people may find that taking zinc supplements helps them feel better.

You shouldn’t take zinc supplements if you already have kidney problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stomach ulcers, bleeding gums, or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. You might also want to avoid taking zinc if you’ve had a recent operation because your body needs extra iron to recover properly. And pregnant women should talk to their midwife about whether they should take zinc while breastfeeding.

Zinc lozenges

People who feel under the weather often turn to zinc lozenges and supplements. 

Some evidence suggests that taking zinc may help prevent the common cold. However, there isn’t enough research available to determine if it helps treat symptoms or shortens the duration of the common influenza. It has been used for thousands of years to treat diabetes.

In a study, zinc supplementation decreased the duration of virus shedding in the upper respiratory tract during experimental rhinoviral infection. The authors concluded that there was no effect of zinc supplementation on viral titers or symptoms.

However, they found that zinc supplementation decreased the duration of illness.

Zinc lozenges are available over the counter at most pharmacies. The NHS recommends that children under five should only take zinc lozenges with the advice of a healthcare professional.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

Zinc deficiency can cause:

– Poor appetite

– Fatigue

– Weakness

– Skin problems such as acne or dermatitis

– Hair loss

– Weight loss

– Anemia (low red blood cell count)

Side Effects

Taking too much zinc might cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Some people develop a metallic taste in their mouths; others experience a burning sensation in their oesophagus or throat. In rare cases, zinc poisoning causes seizures, coma, and even death.

The Food and Drug Administration warns against applying zinc creams directly to the skin. Doing so could lead to burns or blisters. Instead, use a cream designed specifically for your skin type. If you do decide to use zinc ointment, make sure you follow package directions carefully. Don’tDon’t rub the zinc into the skin too hard or for too long. Also, don’t let children under five years old use zinc ointments.


If prescribed one of these medications, it is essential to know about potential interactions with zinc acetate tablets.

• Azithromycin (Zithromax): This medication is often prescribed to prevent pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumonia. Zinc acetate tablets do not affect the effectiveness of azithromycin. However, taking zinc acetate tablets and azithromycin increases diarrhoea risk.

• Amoxicillin/Clavulanate (Augmentin): This combination product contains amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. Clavulanate inhibits bacterial beta-lactamases, which break down ampicillin. Therefore, taking zinc acetate with amoxicillin/clavulanate decreases the amount of ampicillin available to kill bacteria.

• Augmentin XR: This extended-release version of amoxicillin/clavulanate contains both amoxicillin and clavulanate. Zinc acetate does not affect the effectiveness of either component of this formulation.

• Ceftriaxone (Rocephin): This prescription antibiotic treats serious infections such as those caused by Neisseria meningitides, Haemophilus influenzae, or Streptococcus pneumonia. Zinc acetate does not affect ceftriaxone’s antibacterial activity.

• Clarithromycin (Biaxin): This medicine treats conditions like bronchitis and tonsillitis. Zinc acetate doesn’t change how well clarithromycin works against most types of bacteria. However, taking zinc with clarithromycin increases the chance of nausea and vomiting.

What to look for in a zinc supplement

While we know that zinc is essential, it can be challenging to figure out what form of zinc is best for you. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right zinc supplement for your needs.

1. Form

There are many forms of zinc, including zinc oxide, zinc carbonate, zinc chloride, zinc glycinate, zinc lactate, zinc methionine, zinc picolinate, zinc sulfate, zinc sulfide, and zinc threonate. Each type of zinc compound has its own benefits, such as absorption rates, stability, cost, and ease of use.

2. Bioavailability

The amount of zinc absorbed into the body depends on how much zinc is present in the food you eat. One study found that zinc absorption increased when zinc was taken as a complex versus free in solution. Another study showed that zinc absorption was highest when taking zinc bisglycinate compared to zinc oxide, zinc sulfate, and zinc gluconate in adults.

3. Stability

Some zinc compounds are more stable than others. For example, zinc oxide is very durable, while zinc sulfate is less so. The stability of each compound also varies depending on whether it is stored at room temperature or refrigerated.

4. Ease of Use

Zinc supplements come in different forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, and chews. Some people find it easier to take liquid or chewable zinc supplements than tablets or capsules.

How to choose a zinc supplement

You may want to try several brands and formulations before finding one that works best for you. Check out zinc lozenges if you’re looking for something easy to swallow. They dissolve quickly and contain only small amounts of zinc. You might also try zinc citrate, which dissolves easily in water and tastes great.


To summarise, zinc supplements are safe when taken daily in recommended doses. They may help treat some common cold symptoms but won’t cure your cold. Taking zinc supplements during an infection isn’t harmful, but it may increase the severity of your illness.

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