With all the multivitamin and mineral supplements on the market, you might feel confused about which ones you should and shouldn't take. It is important for your health and growth that you get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from your diet. However, over-consumption of these supplements can lead to toxicity and serious health consequences. Thus, it is important that you know how much you need, how much you are getting from your diet and whether you even need to supplement with over-the-counter vitamin and mineral pills in the first place.
Zinc is a metal and an important mineral necessary for your health, including wound healing, blood clotting, immune system, thyroid function and much more. Zinc deficiency can lead to diarrhea, loss of appetite, irritability, hair loss, poor vision, slow wound healing and stunted growth. According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc can be used to boost immunity and fight infections. The daily federal recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for zinc is 3 mg to 5 mg per day for children, 8 mg per day for adolescents and 9 to 11 mg per day for adults.
Multivitamins and Zinc
Many multivitamins contain not only vitamins, but also minerals such as zinc. The amount of elemental zinc in each vitamin product differs, so it is important you check the label, especially if you are also thinking of adding a zinc supplement. Zinc supplements can contain zinc in several different forms, including zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate and zinc acetate. All these forms contain different amounts of elemental zinc. For example, zinc sulfate only has 23 percent of elemental zinc, which means that 220 mg of zinc sulfate contains only 50 mg of zinc.
Food Sources and Amounts
Eating a healthy and complete diet is usually enough to provide you with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Good food sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, dairy products and fortified cereals. Six oysters contain about 76 mg of zinc, with 18 mg of zinc in 6 oz. of cooked beef shanks, 13 mg in 6 oz. of king crab, 8 mg in 6 oz. of pork shoulder and 3 mg in one chicken leg.
Overconsumption of Zinc
According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc is likely to be safe when taken in amounts no larger than 40 mg per day. Overconsumption of zinc can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and stomach damage, fever and fatigue. Zinc supplementation is not recommended and is likely to be unsafe, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, eating zinc supplements for more than 10 years or taking more than 100 mg per day doubles your risk of prostate cancer, and taking large amounts of multivitamins and a separate zinc supplement increases your risk of dying from prostate cancer.