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Zinc

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • A-84, Articulin-F, atomic number 30, Ayurvedic zinc tablet, elemental zinc, Herpigon, Indian tin, jasad bhasma, Labcatal®, Mezinc™, Orazinc®, pewter, Solvezink®, sodium zinc metasilicate, Virunderim Gel®, Zicam®, zinc acetate, zinc acexamate, zinc aspartate, zinc bacitracin, zinc carbonate, zinc chewing gum, zinc chloride, zinc citrate, zinc dithionite, zinc gluconate, zinc hyaluronate, zinc lozenges, zinc methionate, zinc methionine, zinc methionine sulfate, zinc monomethionine, zinc oxide, zinc oxide dressings (Mezinc™), zinc oxide oil, zinc picolinate, zinc pythione (ZPT), zinc stearate, zinc sulfate, zinc sulphate, Zincaps, Zincolak®, Zincomed, Zineryt® lotion, zink, Zinklet tablets, ZN, Zn, ZnSO4.
  • Selected combination products: Acexamate®, Aquaphor®, Nel's Cream®, Oxyrich, Zeta N®, Zicam® Nasal Gel, Zineryt®, Zincovit, Zinvit-C250.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Zinc is a trace mineral essential for the functioning of enzymatic and other cellular processes, including the regulation of gene expression, protein folding, and immunity (1;2). According to secondary sources, the human body contains approximately 2-3g of zinc, present mainly in skeletal muscles and bones (>80%), kidney, pancreas, retina, teeth, hair, skin, liver, blood cells, prostate, and testes. Zinc kinetics, as measured through the venous zinc tolerance test, has been determined to be a sensitive means by which to measure changes in body zinc status (3).
  • According to secondary sources, zinc is a cofactor for over 100 different enzymes, including carbonic anhydrase, alkaline phosphatase, lactic dehydrogenase, and both RNA and DNA polymerase. It is available through foods such as beef, pork, shellfish, peanuts, and legumes. Severe zinc deficiency may still be observed in developing countries and may result in growth retardation, diarrhea, alopecia, glossitis, nail dystrophy, decreased immunity, and hypogonadism (in males) (1). Severe deficiency is seldom encountered in developed countries; however, less severe cases may be observed in elderly and pregnant individuals. Mild zinc deficiency may be overlooked, since symptoms are not always evident, but it may include, for example, loss of hair, appetite, weight, and the senses of taste and smell.
  • Based on available scientific evidence, zinc is efficacious in the treatment of diarrhea, gastric ulcers, and zinc deficiency with good evidence in support of its use for acne vulgaris, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, herpes simplex virus, immune function, sickle cell anemia (management), and Wilson's disease. There have, however, been mixed reports about zinc's effectiveness for treatment of Wilson's disease (1;4). Zinc has gained popularity for its use in prevention of the common cold, although clinical support is mixed.
  • The role for zinc in many other diseases is more controversial, as either the results of published studies provide contradictory information, the methodological quality of the studies lack for the ability to determine a role for zinc in those diseases, or too few studies of good quality have been published.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.