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Clinician’s Corner: Zinc

We started this journey through the vitamin aisle on November 1,2018 with Clinician’s Corner.  Now 4 and ½ months later we wrap up this journey through the vitamins and supplements with Zinc. Zinc is considered to be an essential “trace element” that has to come from the diet. Involved in over 100 enzymes, zinc deficiency presents as growth failure, skin disease, impaired taste and smell, impaired immunity and resistance to infection.  Zinc deficiency is rare in the United States, but very common worldwide, especially in developing countries.

SOURCES FOR ZINC: Daily Value (DV) for zinc is 15 mg for adults and kids age 4 and older.

  • red meat, poultry and eggs
  • beans, nuts
  • Oysters are the highest (34mg/serving 340% of DV) seafood (such as crab and lobster),
  • whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products
  • Iron and coffee contain phytates, which can inhibit zinc absorption.
  • IRON (over 25mg) may decrease zinc absorption. Take iron between meals

ZINC DEFICIENCY signs and symptoms:

  • loss of appetite and impaired immune function.
  • Severe zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhea, weight loss and increase in pneumonias, mostly seen in developing countries.
  • Eye and skin lesions
  • Delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males
  • Delayed wound healing, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy can also occur

PATIENTS NEEDING ZINC SUPPLEMENTATION:  Be sure to ask your Thompson Pharmacist

  • GROUPS at greatest risk: GI surgery- especially gastric bypass surgery, ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease.
  • Alcoholics up to half of that population need zinc supplementation due to poor diet.
  • Vegetarians require 50% more of RDA, due to lack of intake of meat products.
  • Sickle cell anemia and alcoholics. Zinc deficiency also affects approximately 60%–70% of adults with sickle cell disease. Zinc supplementation has been shown to improve growth in children with sickle cell disease
  • ZINC FOR COLD: a 2004 review showed zinc lozenges may reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms, when taken within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. The safety of intranasal zinc has been called into question due to numerous reports of anosmia (loss of smell), which may be long-lasting or permanent, from the use of zinc-containing nasal gels or sprays.
  • ZINC FOR THE EYES (AMD): zinc is not effective for the primary prevention of early adult macular degeneration (AMD), although zinc might reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD.

DRUG INTERACTIONS INVOLVING ZINC: Always consult your Thompson Pharmacist if you are taking any of the following medications, before supplementing Zinc

  • May bind antibiotics like tetracyclines as well as fluoroquinolones (Cipro, Levaquin)
  • Diuretics may lower zinc levels by 60%
  • Zinc may increase bleeding risk when taken with
    • Blood thinners
    • NSAIDS (Naproxen, Ibuprofen etc)
  • Zinc may lower blood sugar levels

EXCESS ZINC: may cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Over 150mg of zinc per day may cause:

  • low copper status
  • altered iron function
  • reduced immune function
  • reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins
  • Affect urinary tract
  • Look for zinc-free denture adhesives, especially if using in large quantities

Zinc, like so many supplements we have discussed, has its place in therapy.  Seeing the problems with drug interactions and excess supplementation, it is best to consult your Thompson Pharmacist.  Go ahead and ASK— at Thompson Pharmacy it’s all for YOU!