5 Signs and Symptoms of Zinc Overdose

Zinc* is an essential mineral that helps support your immune system, cellular metabolism, and serves other important purposes within your body. Your body can get zinc from certain foods, but you can also add this mineral to your diet in the form of a supplement.

 

Zinc supplements can come in a variety of forms — tablets, gummies, capsules — or even in liquid form like our liquid zinc drops. If you are taking zinc, it’s always wise to stick with the recommended amount of the nutrient (or speak with a physician to see how much is best for you) to make sure you avoid potential troublesome side effects.

 

While side effects from supplementing with zinc are uncommon, they can arise if you go far beyond the recommended dosage* of your zinc supplement.

 

In this post, we’ll outline five of the telltale signs that you might be overdoing your zinc intake.

 

However, it’s important to consider that these signs and symptoms may also be linked to other health problems as well. Before assuming that your zinc intake is causing your symptoms, it’s smart to first talk to your doctor.

 

How Much Zinc Is Too Much?

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for zinc* as established by the Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board is that adult women, ages 19 and up, have an intake of 8 milligrams of zinc per day. For men, the recommended amount is a bit higher, at 11 milligrams of zinc daily. This may not sound like much, but remember that zinc is a micronutrient – the amount of zinc your body needs is lower than that of macronutrients (like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins).

 

RDA is the amount recommended for daily intake, but there’s also another important amount to be aware of — it’s called the Tolerable Upper Intake Limit or UL. The Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board also establishes these amounts, and discusses how this particular amount for zinc was determined in the Dietary Reference Intakes publication*.

 

For adults ages 19+, it’s recommended that they consume no more than 40 mg per day* of zinc; however, the UL amount varies for different age groups. It’s also important to note that the upper limit does not apply to individuals who have been prescribed zinc for medical treatment, provided they are monitored for adverse effects by a physician.

 

When taking MaryRuth’s liquid zinc, a serving of 3 mL (four pumps) gives you 11.25 mg of this important nutrient. You’ll see this referenced in the Supplement Facts panel as 102% DV.* In addition, by adjusting the dosage amount, this zinc supplement can be used by the whole family! Or, if you only need zinc support for your little ones, we also have zinc supplements formulated specifically for toddlers and infants. See our Toddler Liquid Zinc and Infant Liquid Zinc.

 

The easiest way to meet your daily recommended intake of zinc is to combine a nutrient-dense diet with a multimineral or standalone zinc supplement.

 

Healthy, unprocessed foods can provide you with a significant portion of the zinc you need, but adding a supplement to your daily routine can help to ensure that you meet your nutrient requirements, even on days when your meals aren’t as nutrient-dense as you’d want them to be.

 

When taking a zinc supplement*, it’s always wise to stick with the dosage recommended for your age and gender. Taking more zinc than the recommended dose may not be beneficial for your health, and too much zinc can cause uncomfortable side effects in some cases. We’ll outline these side effects in the paragraphs to follow, but let’s first talk about the benefits of taking zinc.

 

How Zinc Can Improve Your Health

  • Taking zinc may reduce the occurrence of zinc deficiency* side effects, including gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea. Diarrhea is often a sign of a zinc deficiency, and correcting your zinc intake can sometimes help with chronic diarrhea. However, it’s wise to talk to your doctor about treating diarrhea with zinc supplements before you start. Your doctor may recommend that you take a different approach to treat your gastrointestinal problems, especially since diarrhea can be indicative of a deeper issue.

 

  • Zinc supplements can help to support a strong immune system*. Along with vitamin D and vitamin C, zinc is an essential nutrient for immune health. However, taking zinc is not a cure for illnesses, nor can it provide protection from getting sick on its own. Make sure to take other proactive steps to support immune health in addition to taking supplements like zinc.

 

  • Taking zinc may also help to support skin health* in some cases. Zinc deficiency can cause problems like rashes. If you have a persistent skin issue and are not sure where it came from, it’s best to talk to your doctor to see if you are deficient in zinc.

 

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Signs You May Be Taking Too Much Zinc

 

1. Infections May Indicate Too Much Zinc

Zinc is well-known for its role in maintaining a healthy immune system*. However, too much zinc can actually have a suppressive effect on your immune system, potentially making you more susceptible to infections.

 

The solution? Lower your zinc intake to within the normal range for your age and gender.

 

2. Nausea is a Common Side Effect of Taking Too Much Zinc

One of the most common side effects associated with taking too much of a supplement is digestive problems*. If you’re frequently experiencing nausea or stomach cramps after taking zinc, check with your doctor, as you may need to lower your dosage of the supplement.

 

3. Vomiting May Also Be A Sign of a Zinc Overdose

When you take a dose of zinc that is especially high, it may cause vomiting. However, this symptom of zinc overdose* typically only appears if you take a dose of zinc that is several hundred milligrams. The best way to avoid this side effect is to keep your zinc intake relatively close to the daily recommended amount for your age and gender.

 

4. Diarrhea is Another Zinc Overdose Symptom, But Its Causes Can Vary

Although zinc is often recommended as part of a treatment plan for gastrointestinal problems, too much of the mineral can cause diarrhea* in some cases.

 

If you are attempting to treat diarrhea with zinc, make sure to do so only under the supervision of your doctor. That way, you won’t accidentally overdo* your intake.

 

If you try to treat diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues with a dose of zinc that is too high, you may be at greater risk of more severe symptoms. To avoid overdoing your zinc intake and potentially having the opposite effect on your gastrointestinal issues than you had intended, make sure to stick with the recommended dosage of zinc.

 

5. Iron Deficiency Is Also Linked To Too Much Zinc

Too much zinc can interfere with your absorption of iron*. If you are supplementing with zinc in doses that are much higher than the recommended amount, you may even be at risk of developing an iron deficiency. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, pale skin, weak hair and nails, and more.

 

Balancing your intake of iron and zinc is an essential aspect of your diet and supplement regimen. When you keep your zinc intake within the recommended parameters for your age and gender, the risk of interfering with iron absorption is low.

 

In the same way that too much zinc can inhibit iron absorption, too much iron* can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb zinc. If you are taking iron and zinc supplements together, make sure to stick with the recommended doses of each. In addition, if you have any questions or concerns about zinc and iron supplements, make sure to talk to your doctor.

 

Zinc Safety 101

To make the most of your zinc supplements and stay safe while taking them, follow these tips.

 

  • Only take zinc once a day unless otherwise recommended by your doctor. Even if your zinc supplement does not give you the entirety of your daily needs for the nutrient, it’s best to stick with the recommended dosage and get the rest of your zinc from dietary sources. Eating plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and fortified grains can help you meet your zinc requirements instead of fully relying on a supplement.

 

  • Make sure to maintain proper iron intake while supplementing with zinc. Since your zinc intake can interfere with your iron intake if you get too much of either, it’s best to carefully balance the supplements you take. If you have concerns about the ratio of your intake of zinc and iron, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

 

  • Remember, you’re getting zinc from food if you’re eating a healthy diet. Supplements are complementary to a nutrient-dense diet, not a replacement for one! Make sure to prioritize getting nutrients from dietary sources, allowing supplements to support your diet rather than relying solely on supplements.

 

When supplementing with zinc, the best way to stay safe is to communicate with your doctor about any concerns you have.

 

Keeping your doctor or healthcare professional in the loop about any changes you make to your supplement regimen is always a good decision. Your doctor can advise you about whether a higher or lower dose of zinc may be best for you based on your age and gender.

 

MaryRuth’s liquid zinc and liquid multivitamin supplements are 100% vegan and non-GMO. Our supplements can help you meet your daily nutrient needs while allowing you to stick with a healthy, plant-based diet.

 

Visit our blog to learn more about health, wellness, and how to make the most of your daily supplement regimen!

 

*You may notice that the %DV amounts on the products are split up by age group and pregnancy/lactation status, but they don’t give you the same breakdown as the RDA values for age and gender. If you’re interested in learning the RDA value for a particular ingredient with a %DV, the NIH website and the Dietary Guideline for Americans website are great resources.

 

 

*References available upon request.

 

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