Zinc has come to the limelight during the current COVID-19 pandemic as a possible adjunct remedy. Some Healthcare providers have reported (or postulated) that Zinc prevents the COVID-19 virus from replicating (reproducing). A detailed fact sheet on Zinc supplements can be found at the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements under the US Department of Health & Human Service

Although the British National Formulary (BNF) states that, ‘Zinc supplements should not be given unless there is good evidence of deficiency’, most multivitamin/mineral supplements available in the US contain some amount of Zinc which should be sufficient for any required daily need.

Zinc is one of the trace elements needed for normal human function and is usually obtained adequately from a normal healthy diet. Knowing that some people may want to go out and buy zinc and start taking unnecessary large doses of Zinc to prevent falling sick from the COVID-19 virus, it is important to educate the public on possible side effects and drug interactions with Zinc supplements.

Side effects (from BNF #66)

Zinc side effects include

abdominal pain,

dyspepsia,

nausea,

vomiting,

diarrhea,

gastric irritation,

irritability,

headache and

lethargy.

Avoid high doses of Zinc as this makes the side effects worse.

Caution (from BNF #66)

Zinc supplements should be taken with caution in patients with

renal failure (zinc accumulation),

pregnancy (Zinc crosses the placenta) and

breast-feeding mothers (found in breast-milk).

Interactions (From National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements)

Iron

Large amounts of supplemental iron (greater than 25 mg) might decrease zinc absorption. Taking iron supplements between meals helps decrease its effect on zinc absorption.

Copper

High zinc intakes can inhibit copper absorption, sometimes producing copper deficiency and associated anemia

Antibiotics

Both quinolone antibiotics and tetracycline antibiotics interact with zinc in the gastrointestinal tract, inhibiting the absorption of both zinc and the antibiotic. Taking the antibiotic at least 2 hours before or 4–6 hours after taking a zinc supplement minimizes this interaction.

Penicillamine

Zinc can reduce the absorption and action of penicillamine. To minimize this interaction, individuals should take zinc supplements at least 2 hours before or after taking penicillamine.

Diuretics

Thiazide diuretics such as chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide increase urinary zinc excretion by as much as 60%. Prolonged use of thiazide diuretics could deplete zinc tissue levels, so clinicians should monitor zinc status in patients taking these medications.

Dietary sources of Zinc (From National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

In conclusion, I would like to mention some dietary sources of Zinc which include whole grains, milk products, oysters, red meat, poultry, baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts (such as cashews and almonds).

Thanks for reading and stay safe.

 

  1. Zinc picolinate 50 mgs made by Now, put me in the ER! Something is wrong with this formula! Needs further research, other brands, no problem for months. This happened to me three times before I figured this out. And product sounded so much more healthier too, wrong! So wrong! Be warned!

    • Thanks for the information. You can also get zinc from a healthy diet. Your body needs a lot of different nutrients so rather than take zinc alone, I usually suggest that people should take multivitamin-mineral supplements in one pill. They usually contain all the vitamins and minerals you may need.

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