I had been planning on doing a blog post on zinc for some time, but other topics pushed it out of the way. Zinc was my best friend when I was in high school. I was an apiarist and I never used protective equipment. I also had bushy black hair. 

That for some reason resulted in the bees if they stung me to sting me around my eyes. Well the area would swell up. Not great for dates with the ladies. My mom had always been fascinated by vitamins and minerals so there were always plenty lying around the house.

I experimented and found taking zinc tablets resulted in my selling resolving in half the time. I am not sure of the dose, but it was probably around 100 or so milligrams a day for three days. Other then that when taking it, which was rarely, I did not see any difference. 

So, I pretty much forgot about zinc as after high school I didn’t have time for bees. So not bee stings. Then recently I read about how zinc is important to vitamin D receptor (VDR) function. This is more important in those with a VDR genetic defect. 

The VDR binds zinc and zinc is involved in the processing of vitamin D in the cells. Though the exact mechanisms of how zinc helps in the processing of vitamin D3 have not been worked out. 1 Again, an area of more research. The point being increasing blood zinc levels may improve VDR activity. 

The required dosing of zinc for most is relatively modest. It is age and sex based and can be found here. 1 But typically 10 mgs a day for most adults is enough. 20 mgs a day has been shown to cut in half the number of people who progress from prediabetes to diabetes. 2

Taking zinc supplementation with antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene) has shown to reduce the risk of the development of macular degeneration. Taking these antioxidants without zinc did not.

In this same study they found taking zinc supplementation alone only reduced the risk of macular degeneration in high risk groups not in the general population. In two smaller clinical studies one found zinc alone reduced the risk of developing macular degeneration. 4 The other did not.

Zinc supplements have been shown to boost the immune response in older adults. 6 It has also show to speed diabetic foot ulcer wound close. A type of ulcer notoriously difficult to heal. This was done in a placebo controlled study involving 60 patients over 12 weeks who were using 100-200 mg of supplemental zinc a day. 7

Finally, it is not without risks. Taking doses above 100 mgs a day or for more then 10 years doubles the risk of prostate cancer. 8 So taking doses of it over 40 mgs a day may interfere with coppers absorption from the intestines another important mineral. 

Another issue with zinc is taking doses above 450 mgs a day can interfere with blood iron. Finally, taking 10-30 grams at a single dose can be fatal. Despite this if acutely ill it is probably wise to boost the dose of zinc early to 100-200 mg a day until recovered. 

If that illness progresses into a chronical illness that is a much more difficult question. From the research I can find keeping your dosing of zinc in the recommended range is enough unless you are ill. Though some say the same about vitamin D3. 

Though it is not known if more zinc is needed with optimal dosing of vitamin D3. Though it appears from what I can gather taking less than 40 mg per day long term is probably safe. Taking larger doses for short periods is also probably safe, but again more study is needed.

 

  1. Shams B, Afshari E, R, et al. (October 18, 2016). The relationship of serum vitamin D and zinc in a nationally representative sample of Iranian children and adolescents: The CASPIAN-III study. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 30:430.
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
  3. Ranasighe P, Wathurapatha WS, Galappathy P, et al. (May 2018). Zinc supplementation in prediabetes: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study. J Diabetes. 10 (5):386-397.
  4. The age-related eye disease Research Group. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose su[lamentation with vitamin C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration. AREDS report no.8. Arch Ophthalmolog. 2001. 119:1417-36.
  5. Newsome DA, Swartz M, Leone NC, et al. Oral zinc in macular degeneration. Arch Ophthamolog 1988; 106:192-8.
  6. Haase H, Rink L. (Jun 12, 2009). The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Immun Aging. 6: 9.
  7. Momen-Heravi M, Barahimi E, Razzaghi R, et al. (May 9, 2017). The effects of zinc supplementation on wound healing and metabolic status in patients with chronic foot ulcers: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Wound Repair Regen. 25(3): 512-520. 
  8. Stur M, Tittl M, Reitner A, Meisinger V. (1996). Oral zinc and the second eye in age-related macular degeneration. Invest Ophthamolo Vis Sci. 37:1225-35.

*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


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