Zinc is a mineral that is an essential nutrient for plants and animals [1]. In humans, zinc is involved in various physical processes, including growth, immunity, reproductive function, and neurobehavioral development [2] [3] [4]. Zinc deficiency can result in short stature, hypogonadism, reduced ability to taste food, and anorexia [5]. Because the human body does not store excess Zinc, an adequate supply must be regularly consumed as part of the diet. Common dietary sources of zinc include red meat, poultry, and fish. Low-income countries in which these foods are not readily available may have a higher prevalence of zinc deficiency [6].

National Nutrition Study

  • 32% of all men do not reach the recommended daily allowance of Zinc.
  • 21% of all women do not reach the recommended daily allowance of Zinc [16].

Function of Zinc

Zinc is a regulatory component of over 300 enzymes, because of these broad functions the symptoms of a Zinc deficiency are very unspecific and occur in many forms [7] [8] [9] [10].

The mineral plays an important role in growth, development and regeneration processes [7] [8] [9] [10].

Thanks to its antioxidative capabilities Zinc is important in removing free radicals [7] [8] [10].

Using Zinc oral lozenges seems to be beneficial to help treating the common cold in adults. The majority of clinical trials and analyses of clinical research show a significant decrease in the duration of symptoms of the common cold when adults take zinc gluconate or Zinc acetate lozenges providing 9-24 mg of elemental Zinc per dose [11] [12] [13] [14] [15].

Zinc is needed for the activity of T-Cells, which are in charge of collecting degenerated and broken cells. If there is not enough Zinc the activity of T-cells is reduced [7] [8][ 10].

Deficiency Symptoms

The body can become more susceptible to infects due to a deficiency in Zinc [7] [8].

A Zinc deficiency can lead to a reduced sense of taste and a loss of appetite [7] [8].

Another symptom of a Zinc deficiency can be diarrhea, which in turn can lead to deficiencies of other micronutrients [7] [8].

Especially in adolescents severe damage can be caused by a Zinc deficiency, including growth disorders, disorders in the brain development and cognitive limitations [7] [8].

Population research suggests zinc levels are lower in depressed patients compared with non-depressed individuals [1] [7].

Taking zinc orally might help treat acne. Research suggests that people with acne seem to have lower serum and skin zinc levels [18] [19] [20] [21].Clinical trials have been small, but most suggest that taking zinc orally, in the form of zinc sulfate or zinc gluconate, can improve acne compared to placebo [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28].

Surplus of Zinc​

An oversupply with Zinc can lead to a deficiency of copper [7].
The toxicity level of Zinc is very high and can lead to anemia and a reduction of granulocytes, which are needed to destroy pathogens [7].
A severe oversupply of Zinc can lead to change of skin and in some rare cases to liver damage [7].

[1] Gibson RS. A historical review of progress in the assessment of dietary zinc intake as an indicator of population zinc status. Adv Nutr. 2012 Nov 1;3(6):772-82 (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23153731?dopt=Abstract)

[2] Prasad, A. S. Zinc: role in immunity, oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Curr Opin.Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12(6):646-652. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19710611?dopt=Abstract)

[3] Saper, R. B. and Rash, R. Zinc: an essential micronutrient. Am Fam.Physician 5-1-2009;79(9):768-772. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141096?dopt=Abstract)

[4] Gibson RS. A historical review of progress in the assessment of dietary zinc intake as an indicator of population zinc status. Adv Nutr. 2012 Nov 1;3(6):772-82. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23153731?dopt=Abstract)

[5] Gibson RS. A historical review of progress in the assessment of dietary zinc intake as an indicator of population zinc status. Adv Nutr. 2012 Nov 1;3(6):772-82. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23153731?dopt=Abstract)

[6] Gibson RS. A historical review of progress in the assessment of dietary zinc intake as an indicator of population zinc status. Adv Nutr. 2012 Nov 1;3(6):772-82. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23153731?dopt=Abstract)

[7] Koula-Jenik, H., Miko M., Kraft M., Schulz R., Leitfaden Ernährungsmedizin. Elsevier,Urban&Fischer Verlag 2013;p.65-67

[8] Biesalski HK., Muniz K., Vitamine und Minerale: Indikation, Diagnostik, Therapie. Thieme Verlag 2017; p.103

[9] Wibusch N, Hofmann P, Förster H, Hörtnagl HLedl-Kurkowski E, Pokan R, Kompendium der Sportmedizin Physiologie, Innere Medizin und Pädiatrie. Springer-Verlag 2016; p. 354

[10] Christoph Raschka, Stephanie Ruf, Sport und Ernährung: Wissenschaftlich basierte Empfehlungen, Tipps und Ernährungspläne für die Praxis. Georg Thieme Verlag 2015; p.130-131

[11] Mossad SB, Macknin ML, Medendorp SV, Mason P. Zinc gluconate lozenges for treating the common cold. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Ann Intern Med 1996;125:81-8. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8678384?dopt=Abstract)

[12] Godfrey JC, Conant Sloane B, Smith DS, et al. Zinc gluconate and the common cold: a controlled clinical study. J Int Med Res 1992;20:234-6. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1397668?dopt=Abstract)

[13] Al-Nakib W, Higgins PG, Barrow I, et al. Prophylaxis and treatment of rhinovirus colds with zinc gluconate lozenges. J Antimicrob Chemother 1987;20:893-901. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3440773?dopt=Abstract)

[14] Prasad AS, Fitzgerald JT, Bao B, et al. Duration of symptoms and plasma cytokine levels in patients with the common cold treated with zinc acetate. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2000;133:245-52. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10929163?dopt=Abstract)

[15] Zinc lozenges reduce the duration of common cold symptoms. Nutr.Rev. 1997;55(3):82-85. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9170894?dopt=Abstract)

[16] Max Rubner-Institut, Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und
Verbraucherschutz, Hrsg. Nationale Verzehrstudie II. Karlsruhe: MRI; 2008

[17] Swardfager W, Herrmann N, Mazereeuw G, Goldberger K, Harimoto T, Lanctôt KL. Zinc in depression: a meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Dec 15;74(12):872-8. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23806573?dopt=Abstract)

[18] Dreno B, Trossaert M, Boiteau HL, Litoux P. Zinc salts effects on granulocyte zinc concentration and chemotaxis in acne patients. Acta Derm Venereol 1992;72:250-2. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1357876?dopt=Abstract)

[19] Amer M, Bahgat MR, Tosson Z, et al. Serum zinc in acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol 1982;21:481-4. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6217164?dopt=Abstract)

[20] Michaelsson G, Vahlquist A, Juhlin L. Serum zinc and retinol-binding protein in acne. Br J Dermatol 1977;96:283-6. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/139912?dopt=Abstract)

[21] Michaelsson G, Ljunghall K. Patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, acne, psoriasis and Darier’s disease have low epidermal zinc concentrations. Acta Derm Venereol 1990;70:304-8. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1977254?dopt=Abstract)

[22] Goransson K, Liden S, Odsell L. Oral zinc in acne vulgaris: a clinical and methodological study. Acta Derm Venereol 1978;58:443-8. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/82356?dopt=Abstract)

[23] Hillstrom L, Pettersson L, Hellbe L, et al. Comparison of oral treatment with zinc sulphate and placebo in acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol 1977;97:681-4. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/146511?dopt=Abstract)

[24] Meynadier J. Efficacy and safety study of two zinc gluconate regimens in the treatment of inflammatory acne. Eur J Dermatol 2000 May;10:269-73. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10846252?dopt=Abstract)

[25] Michaelsson G, Juhlin L, Vahlquist A. Effects of oral zinc and vitamin A in acne. Arch Dermatol 1977;113:31-6. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/137693?dopt=Abstract)

[26] Dreno B, Amblard P, Agache P, et al. Low doses of zinc gluconate for inflammatory acne. Acta Derm Venereol 1989;69:541-3. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2575335?dopt=Abstract)

[27] Orris L, Shalita AR, Sibulkin D, et al. Oral zinc therapy of acne. Absorption and clinical effect. Arch Dermatol 1978;114:1018-20. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/150813?dopt=Abstract)

[28] Weismann K, Wadskov S, Sondergaard J. Oral zinc sulphate therapy for acne vulgaris. Acta Derm Venereol 1977;57:357-60. (Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/70931?dopt=Abstract)

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