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Acid Reflux & Zinc

author image Jessica Bruso
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
Acid Reflux & Zinc
Some types of seafood are good natural sources of zinc. Photo Credit oohtee/iStock/Getty Images

If you have acid reflux, you may want to evaluate your zinc intake. Getting at least 8 to 11 milligrams of zinc per day, depending on whether you're a woman or a man, will help keep your immune system working properly and allow your body to form DNA. This essential mineral, found in crabs, oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, fortified cereals, nuts and dairy products, may also help limit acid reflux symptoms more quickly than medications.

Effect on Acid Reflux

A study published in "The American Journal of Gastroenterology" in 2011 found that taking zinc quickly relieved acid reflux symptoms in both rats and people. The effects lasted for more than three hours. However, this was a small study, so further research is necessary to determine whether zinc is a good alternative to other acid reflux treatments and which dose of zinc works best.

Potential Mechanism

Acid reflux, which affects up to 35 percent of Americans, is sometimes due to the stomach producing too much acid. Zinc may help limit the amount of acid produced by the stomach, making it less likely for excess stomach acid to be pushed back up the esophagus as acid reflux.

Compared to Other Treatments

Some of the other treatments for acid reflux, called proton pump inhibitors, can take two to three days to relieve symptoms. In contrast, zinc offers faster relief. However, the relief isn't as long-lasting. As long as you don't overdose on zinc, it tends to be less likely to cause side effects like dizziness, headaches and diarrhea.

Potential Risks

Check with your doctor before taking zinc supplements, which are usually in the form of zinc salts, such as zinc sulphate, zinc acetate or zinc gluconate. Getting more than 40 milligrams of zinc per day can cause toxicity symptoms, including reduced immune function, decreased absorption of iron and copper, vomiting, headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications, including penicillamine, diuretics and some types of antibiotics.

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