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Zinc for Sports & Fitness

Why Use

Zinc

Why Do Athletes Use It?*

Some athletes say that zinc helps boost the immune system and speed recovery between workouts.

What Do the Advocates Say?*

In order to repair micro tears that can occur as a result of strenuous exercise, serious athletes usually require higher amounts of most vitamins and minerals—including zinc—than sedentary people.

Zinc is essential to keeping the immune system strong. For athletes, this is especially important, since being sidelined with a viral infection, or other illness, can force one to miss valuable workout time.

Zinc deficiency is problematic as plasma testosterone is regulated in part by zinc. Therefore, a zinc deficiency may adversely affect this hormone, causing muscular mass and strength to suffer. Your doctor can administer a routine test to determine whether or not you are deficient in zinc.

*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.

Dosage & Side Effects

Zinc

How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?

Exercise increases zinc losses from the human body, and severe zinc deficiency can compromise muscle function.1 , 2 Athletes who do not eat an optimal diet, especially those who are trying to control their weight or use fad diets while exercising strenuously, may become deficient in zinc to the extent that performance or health is compromised.3 , 4. One double-blind trial in women found that 135 mg per day of zinc for two weeks improved one measure of muscle strength.5 Whether these women were zinc deficient was not determined in this study. A double-blind study of male athletes with low blood levels of zinc found that 20 mg per day of zinc improved the flexibility of the red blood cells during exercise, which could benefit blood flow to the muscles.6 No other studies of the effects of zinc supplementation in exercising people have been done. A safe amount of zinc for long-term use is 20 to 40 mg per day along with 1 to 2 mg of copper. Higher amounts should be taken only under the supervision of a doctor.

Side Effects

Zinc intake in excess of 300 mg per day has been reported to impair immune function.7 Some people report that zinc lozenges lead to stomach ache, nausea, mouth irritation, and a bad taste. One source reports that gastrointestinal upset, metallic taste in the mouth, blood in the urine, and lethargy can occur from chronic oral zinc supplementation over 150 mg per day,8 but those claims are unsubstantiated. In topical form, zinc has no known side effects when used as recommended.

Caution: Using zinc nasal spray has been reported to cause severe or complete loss of smell function. In some of those cases, the loss of smell was long-lasting or permanent.9

Preliminary research had suggested that people with Alzheimer’s disease should avoid zinc supplements.10 More recently, preliminary evidence in four patients actually showed improved mental function with zinc supplementation.11 In a convincing review of zinc/Alzheimer’s disease research, perhaps the most respected zinc researcher in the world concluded that zinc does not cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.12

Zinc inhibits copper absorption. Copper deficiency can result in anemia, lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, neurological disorders, and cardiac arrhythmias.13 , 14 , 15 Copper intake should be increased if zinc supplementation continues for more than a few days (except for people with Wilson’s disease).16 Some sources recommend a 10:1 ratio of zinc to copper. Evidence suggests that no more that 2 mg of copper per day is needed to prevent zinc-induced copper deficiency. Many zinc supplements include copper in the formulation to prevent zinc-induced copper deficiency. Zinc-induced copper deficiency has been reported to cause reversible anemia and suppression of bone marrow.17 In addition, there are case reports of neurologic abnormalities due to copper deficiency occurring in people who had been using large amounts of certain widely available denture creams that contained high concentrations of zinc.18

In a study of elderly people with macular degeneration, supplementing with 80 mg of zinc per day for an average of about six years increased by about 50% the incidence of hospitalizations due to genitourinary causes (such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and urinary retention).19 In that study, copper was also given, but in a form that cannot be absorbed by humans (cupric oxide). The reported adverse effect of zinc may have been due in large part to zinc-induced copper deficiency, which could be prevented by taking copper in a form other than cupric oxide. Nevertheless, it would be prudent for elderly people wishing to take large amounts of zinc to consult with a doctor.

Marginal zinc deficiency may be a contributing factor in some cases of anemia. In a study of women with normocytic anemia (in other words, their red blood cells were of normal size) and low total iron-binding capacity (a blood test often used to assess the cause of anemia), combined iron and zinc supplementation significantly improved the anemia, whereas iron or zinc supplemented alone had only slight effects.20 Supplementation with zinc, or zinc and iron together, has been found to improve vitamin A status among children at high risk for deficiency of the three nutrients.21

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Zinc competes for absorption with copper, iron,22 , 23 calcium,24 and magnesium.25 A multimineral supplement will help prevent mineral imbalances that can result from taking high amounts of zinc for extended periods of time.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) may increase urinary excretion of zinc.26 Long-term users of NAC may consider adding supplements of zinc and copper.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • Amlodipine-Benazepril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to benazepril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,29 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with benazepril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking benazepril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Aspirin

    Intake of 3 grams of aspirin per day has been shown to decrease blood levels of zinc.30 Aspirin appeared to increase loss of zinc in the urine in this study, and the effect was noted beginning three days after starting aspirin.

  • Benazepril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to benazepril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,32 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with benazepril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking benazepril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Bendroflumethiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.33

  • Calcium Acetate

    People with renal failure or on hemodialysis often have low blood levels of zinc, which may produce symptoms such as abnormal taste or smell, reduced sexual functions, and poor immunity. One controlled study showed that taking zinc at the same time as calcium acetate reduces absorption of zinc.38 Therefore, people should avoid taking calcium acetate and zinc supplements together. Another controlled study revealed that neither short-term nor long-term treatment with calcium acetate results in reduced blood zinc levels.39 Thus, while calcium acetate reduces the amount of zinc absorbed from supplements, long-term treatment with the drug does not appear to affect overall zinc status. However, people with renal failure who experience symptoms of zinc deficiency might benefit from supplementing with zinc, regardless of whether or not they take calcium acetate.

  • Captopril

    Preliminary research has found significant loss of zinc in urine triggered by taking captopril.43 In this trial, depletion of zinc reduced red blood cell levels of zinc. Although details remain unclear, it now appears that chronic use of captopril may lead to a zinc deficiency.44

    It makes sense for people taking captopril long term to consider taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc as a precaution. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Chlorothiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.54

  • Chlorthalidone

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.55

  • Cholestyramine

    Bile acid sequestrants may prevent absorption of folic acid and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.56 , 57 Other medications and vitamin supplements should be taken one hour before or four to six hours after bile acid sequestrants for optimal absorption.58 Animal studies suggest calcium and zinc may also be depleted by taking cholestyramine.59

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Colesevelam

    Bile acid sequestrants may prevent absorption of folic acid and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.68 , 69 Other medications and vitamin supplements should be taken one hour before or four to six hours after bile acid sequestrants for optimal absorption.70 Animal studies suggest calcium and zinc may also be depleted by taking cholestyramine.71

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Colestipol

    Bile acid sequestrants, including colestipol, may prevent absorption of folic acid and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.72 , 73 People taking colestipol should consult with their doctor about vitamin malabsorption and supplementation. People should take other drugs and vitamin supplements one hour before or four to six hours after colestipol to improve absorption.74

    Animal studies suggest calcium and zinc may be depleted by taking cholestyramine, another bile acid sequestrant. 75 Whether these same interactions would occur with colestipol is not known.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Desogestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.82 , 83 , 84 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.85 , 86 , 87 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.88 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Dexamethasone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.91 , 92 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Enalapril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells.97

    It makes sense for people taking enalapril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestrel

    A review of literature suggests that women who use OCs may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.102 , 103 , 104 OC use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.105 , 106 , 107 OCs may interfere with manganese absorption.108 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone

    A review of literature suggests that women who use OCs may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.109 , 110 , 111 OC use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.112 , 113 , 114 OCs may interfere with manganese absorption.115 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate

    A review of literature suggests that women who use OCs may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.116 , 117 , 118 OC use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.119 , 120 , 121 OCs may interfere with manganese absorption.122 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestrel

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.123 , 124 , 125 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.126 , 127 , 128 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.129 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Folic Acid

    Though some studies indicate that supplementing with folic acid reduces blood levels of zinc, most show no interaction between the two nutrients when folic acid is taken at moderate levels.142 Therefore, until more convincing evidence is available, people taking moderate amounts of folic acid do not need to supplement with zinc. Zinc supplementation is recommended when folic acid intake is high. A doctor should be consulted to determine the appropriate time to add zinc supplementation to folic acid therapy.

  • Fosinopril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to fosinopril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,143 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with ramipril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking fosinopril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Hydrochlorothiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.146

  • Hydroflumethiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.148

  • Indapamide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.155

  • Levonorgestrel

    A review of literature suggests that women who use OCs may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.159 , 160 , 161 OC use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.162 , 163 , 164 OCs may interfere with manganese absorption.165 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estrad

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.166 , 167 , 168 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.169 , 170 , 171 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.172 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Lisinopril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to lisinopril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,173 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with lisinopril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking lisinopril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mestranol and Norethindrone

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.186 , 187 , 188 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.189 , 190 , 191 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.192 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Methyclothiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.196

  • Metolazone

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.11

  • Moexipril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells.197

    It makes sense for people taking enalapril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Norgestimate-Ethinyl Estradiol

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels.199 , 200 , 201 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A.202 , 203 , 204 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.205 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Perindopril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to perindopril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,206 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with ramipril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking perindopril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Polythiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.210

  • Quinapril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to quinapril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,212 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ramipril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to ramipril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,213 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with ramipril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking ramipril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Sodium Fluoride

    Individuals who are bedridden for long periods may become deficient in zinc, which can affect the strength of bone that is formed. In a controlled study of healthy adults who were confined to bed, fluoride supplementation prevented zinc loss from the body.214 Bedridden individuals should consult a qualified healthcare practitioner for guidance in using fluoride to prevent zinc deficiency.

  • Trandolapril

    In a study of 34 people with hypertension, six months of captopril or enalapril (ACE inhibitors related to trandolapril) treatment led to decreased zinc levels in certain white blood cells,221 raising concerns about possible ACE inhibitor–induced zinc depletion.

    While zinc depletion has not been reported with ramipril, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking trandolapril long term to consider, as a precaution, taking a zinc supplement or a multimineral tablet containing zinc. (Such multiminerals usually contain no more than 99 mg of potassium, probably not enough to trigger the above-mentioned interaction.) Supplements containing zinc should also contain copper, to protect against a zinc-induced copper deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Trichlormethiazide

    Thiazide diuretics can increase urinary zinc loss.222

  • Valproate

    In various studies of children treated with valproic acid for epilepsy compared with control groups, serum zinc levels remained normal226 , 227 or decreased,228 serum copper levels remained normal229 , 230 or decreased,231 and red blood cell zinc levels were decreased.232 The importance of these changes and how frequently they occur remain unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Reduce Side Effects

  • Busulfan

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.35 , 36 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.37

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Capecitabine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.40 , 41 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.42

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Carboplatin

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.45 , 46 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.47

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Carmustine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.48 , 49 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.50

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Chlorambucil

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.51 , 52 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.53

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cisplatin

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.60 , 61 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.62

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cladribine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.63 , 64 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.65

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cyclophosphamide

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.76 , 77 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.78

  • Cytarabine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.79 , 80 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.81

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Docetaxel

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.94 , 95 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.96

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Erlotinib

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.98 , 99 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.100

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Etoposide

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.130 , 131 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.132

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Floxuridine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.133 , 134 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.135

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fludarabine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.136 , 137 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.138

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Hydroxyurea

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.149 , 150 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.151

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ifosfamide

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.152 , 153 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.154

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Irinotecan

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.156 , 157 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.158

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Lomustine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.174 , 175 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.176

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mechlorethamine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.177 , 178 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.179

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Melphalan

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.180 , 181 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.182

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mercaptopurine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.183 , 184 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.185

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Methotrexate

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.193 , 194 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.195

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Polifeprosan 20 with Carmustine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.207 , 208 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.209

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Thioguanine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.215 , 216 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.217

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Thiotepa

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.218 , 219 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.220

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Uracil Mustard

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.223 , 224 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.225

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Vinblastine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.233 , 234 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.235

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Vincristine

    Irradiation treatment, especially of head and neck cancers, frequently results in changes to normal taste sensation.236 , 237 Zinc supplementation may be protective against taste alterations caused or exacerbated by irradiation. A double-blind trial found that 45 mg of zinc sulfate three times daily reduced the alteration of taste sensation during radiation treatment and led to significantly greater recovery of taste sensation after treatment was concluded.238

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Support Medicine

  • Alclometasone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.27 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Amcinonide

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.28 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • AZT

    A study found that adding 200 mg zinc per day to AZT treatment decreased the number of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Candida infections in people with AIDS compared with people treated with AZT alone.31 The zinc also improved weight and CD4 cell levels. The amount of zinc used in this study was very high and should be combined with 1–2 mg of copper to reduce the risk of immune problems from the zinc long term.

    Preliminary human research suggests AZT therapy may cause a reduction in copper and zinc blood levels. The practical importance of these findings remains unclear.

  • Betamethasone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.34 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Clobetasol

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.66 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Clocortolone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.67 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Desonide

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.89 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Desoximetasone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.90 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Diflorasone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.93 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Erythromycin-Benzoyl Peroxide

    Using a topical zinc solution with topical erythromycin increases the effectiveness of the antibiotic in the treatment of inflammatory acne.101

  • Fluocinonide

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.139 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Flurandrenolide

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.140 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fluticasone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.141 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Halcinonide

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.144 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Halobetasol

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.145 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Hydrocortisone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.147 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mometasone

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.198 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Prednicarbate

    Children with alopecia areata who supplemented 100 mg of zinc and 20 mg biotin each day, combined with topical clobetasol, showed more improvement compared to children who took oral corticosteroid drugs.211 Controlled research is needed to determine whether adding oral zinc and biotin to topical clobetasol therapy is more effective than clobetasol alone. However, until more information is available, caregivers should consider that children with alopecia who are currently taking oral corticosteroids might benefit from switching to supplements of zinc and biotin along with topical clobetasol.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • Ciprofloxacin

    Minerals such as aluminum, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc can bind to ciprofloxacin, greatly reducing the absorption of the drug.239 , 240 , 241 , 242 Because of the mineral content, people are advised to take ciprofloxacin two hours after consuming dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and others), antacids (Maalox®, Mylanta®, Tums®, Rolaids®, and others), and mineral-containing supplements.243

  • Demeclocycline

    Taking mineral supplements or antacids that contain aluminum, calcium, iron, magnesium, or zinc at the same time as tetracyclines inhibits the absorption of the drug.244 Therefore, individuals should take tetracyclines at least two hours before or after products containing minerals.

  • Doxycycline

    Many minerals can decrease the absorption and reduce effectiveness of doxycycline, including calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and others.245 To avoid these interactions, doxycycline should be taken two hours before or two hours after dairy products (high in calcium) and mineral-containing antacids or supplements.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ofloxacin

    Minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc can bind to fluoroquinolones, including ofloxacin, greatly reducing drug absorption.247 Ofloxacin should be taken four hours before or two hours after consuming antacids (Maalox®, Mylanta®, Tumms®, Rolaids® and others) that may contain these minerals and mineral-containing supplements.248

  • Penicillamine

    People taking penicillamine should discuss with their doctor whether it would be appropriate to take a zinc supplement (at a separate time of day from the penicillamine).249 However, people taking penicillamine should not supplement with zinc, unless they are being supervised by a doctor.

  • Risedronate

    Taking risedronate at the same time as iron, zinc, or magnesium may reduce the amount of drug absorbed.250 Therefore, people taking risedronate who wish to supplement with these minerals should take them an hour before or two hours after the drug.

  • Tetracycline

    Many minerals can decrease the absorption of tetracycline, thus reducing its effectiveness. These minerals include aluminum (in antacids), calcium (in antacids, dairy products, and supplements), magnesium (in antacids and supplements), iron (in food and supplements), zinc (in food and supplements), and others.

  • Warfarin

    Iron , magnesium, and zinc may bind with warfarin, potentially decreasing their absorption and activity.251 People on warfarin therapy should take warfarin and iron/magnesium/zinc-containing products at least two hours apart.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Potential Negative Interaction

  • Methyltestosterone

    Taking methyltestosterone increased the amount of zinc in the blood and hair of boys with short stature or growth retardation.246 It is not known whether this increase would occur in other people or whether zinc supplementation by people taking methyltestosterone would result in zinc toxicity. Until more is known, zinc supplementation should be combined with methyltestosterone therapy only under the supervision of a doctor.

Explanation Required

  • Cortisone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.252 , 253 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Medroxyprogesterone

    In a group of 37 postmenopausal women treated with conjugated estrogens and medroxyprogesterone for 12 months, urinary zinc and magnesium loss was reduced in those women who began the study with signs of osteoporosis and elevated zinc and magnesium excretion.254 The clinical significance of this interaction remains unclear.

  • Methylprednisolone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.255 , 256 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Minocycline

    Taking calcium, iron, magnesium, or zinc at the same time as minocycline can decrease the absorption of both the drug257 , 258 and the mineral. Therefore, calcium, iron, magnesium, or zinc supplements, if used, should be taken an hour before or after the drug.

  • Prednisolone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.259 , 260 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Prednisone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.261 , 262 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

More Resources

Zinc

Where to Find It

Good sources of zinc include oysters, meat, eggs, seafood, black-eyed peas, tofu, and wheat germ.

Resources

See a list of books, periodicals, and other resources for this and related topics.

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