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What Are the Consequences of Excess Zinc?

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Q. Some years ago, I read about the benefits of zinc in reducing the frequency of respiratory tract infections. I have been taking 100 mg of the mineral daily ever since, along with 1,000 mg vitamin C.

I used to get frequent, severe and long-lasting colds. Since I began taking the zinc and C combo, I've had fewer and milder colds.

I read recently about people experiencing zinc toxicity from denture creams. Am I asking for trouble?

A. It is possible to develop copper deficiency as a reaction to taking in zinc at a level of 100 to 300 mg per day over a long period of time (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb., 1990). You may be flirting with copper deficiency. Have your blood tested and consider cutting back to under 50 mg of zinc daily. The recommended dietary allowance of zinc for an adult man like you is 11 mg per day.

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5 Comments

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Zinc, from personal experience, can make you VERY HUNGRY!

Taking zinc 30mg daily with 2mg copper daily to combat the issue you mentioned above at the recommendation of my health care practitioner.

My mother-in-law died a few years ago at age 91. During the last few years of her life she had difficulty with her dentures and began using more and more denture adhesive products containing high levels of zinc. She experienced rapidly deteriorating mental functioning during this time. When she died it was discovered that the copper content of her blood was almost zero. Copper deficiency causes dementia.

Other will recommend taking Zinc just 25 out of 30 days or say 6 days a week. Supplementing with copper is also a good idea.

Zinc works best for me as a cold fighter when taken in this manner: At the very first sign of a possible cold (when that funny tickle in your throat appears, or your sinuses feel like they might be heading toward inflammation) start taking 15 mg zinc, 4 times/day. I take it w/ 3 meals and again at bedtime, and follow that regimen for about 3 days.

I can prevent a cold from coming on if started before symptoms become full blown. The whole point of taking the higher doses is that the zinc gives your immune system a real boost to fight the infection before it gets a hold. It is important to do that 4 times a day b/c you need to keep the zinc level steady in your body and don't stop after 1-2 days when you think you've beat it- symptoms can come back if stopped too soon. I've used this for yrs.

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