What you need to know about taking zinc – PhillyVoice.com

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Zinc is an essential mineral your body needs to function. Although it’s known as a “trace mineral,” don’t let the small amounts of it in your body minimize its importance: zinc is needed for immune function, and helps with cell growth and repair, division, and wound healing.

Like other essential minerals, such as iron, your body can’t produce zinc; it must be consumed as part of your diet. Red meat, poultry, and fish are all common sources of zinc. Not getting enough of the mineral can lead to deficiencies that can stunt growth, cause loss of taste or smell, and result in wounds healing slowly. If you’re suffering from any of these or other symptoms of zinc deficiency, make an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Most people who take zinc supplements do so for its immune system benefits: taking a zinc supplement reduces the chances of catching the common cold, and beginning supplements even after a cold’s onset can reduce its duration. Ready to boost your own immune system heading into cold and flu season?

Here are four things you should know before adding zinc supplements to your diet:

1. Do I even need more zinc?

There are many sources of dietary zinc, especially for those who are not vegetarians. Additionally, many multivitamins contain zinc. Depending on what your diet looks like, you may not even need a zinc supplement. If you’re a vegetarian, recently underwent gastrointestinal surgery, or have certain conditions such as Crohn’s disease, sickle cell disease, or alcoholism, zinc supplements may be a good way to boost your overall health.

2. Is it possible to have too much?

It’s recommended that adults consume between 8mg and 11mg of zinc daily. The maximum daily allowance for an adult is 40mg. Your body can’t store excess zinc, so there’s no point in consuming
beyond the recommended amount. If you do, you may experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and potentially vomiting for 3 to 10 hours after you take the supplement. Your best bet is to stay within the recommended daily allowance—and take into consideration all of your sources, including diet, in that calculation.

3. What are the interactions or side effects?

Although zinc is an important mineral in a healthy body, zinc supplements can potentially cause adverse reactions depending on what other drugs or supplements are being taken. Certain antibiotics, when taken with zinc, can reduce the amount of both zinc and antibiotics absorbed by the body. Additionally, if you have a copper deficiency, taking zinc can exacerbate it. And some zinc supplements may contain cadmium, which can lead to kidney failure if consumed in high quantities.

4. Are dosages and timing of supplements important?

Zinc supplements should be taken around meal times. That said, certain foods can reduce the amount of zinc your body absorbs. If you take a zinc supplement, avoid bran, foods heavy in fiber, or other whole grains for two hours after taking your supplement to ensure that the zinc is absorbed by your body.

Zinc supplements are generally very safe: there are no reported problems in adolescents, adults, or elderly individuals consuming zinc in normal amounts. If you’re looking for a way to get ahead of cold and flu season, zinc supplements are a good place to start – just follow these four tips to stay safe.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.

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