Zinc is an essential mineral in your diet responsible for providing structure to proteins and to help enzymes in your body speed up chemical reactions. If you do not have enough zinc in your body, you may experience adverse side effects like slow wound healing, impaired immune system, loss of appetite or loss of taste sensation. Having trouble getting enough zinc in your daily diet may cause your physician to suggest zinc supplementation. Before you start taking the supplements, however, ensure you are taking a safe dosage.
You may choose to take zinc supplements for different health concerns. These include conditions like stomach ulcers, muscle cramping, osteoporosis or sickle cells disease or for treating an eating disorder, according to MedlinePlus. You also may take zinc for temporary conditions like the common cold. In some of these instances, your physician may recommend exceeding the daily tolerable upper intake level. If you do, discuss with your physician ways to minimize symptoms like upset stomach, such as taking smaller dosages with food throughout the day.
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Tolerable Upper Intake Levels
To avoid the adverse effects related to taking too much zinc, keep from taking the tolerable upper limit for zinc. For males and females ages 9 to 13 years, the tolerable upper limit is 23 mg per day. If you are ages 14 to 18 years, 34 mg is the limit, while 40 mg is the limit if you are older than age 19. While this is the upper limit, you can still experience adverse side effect from zinc when eating smaller amounts.
Abdominal effects are associated with taking between 50 and 150 mg per day of zinc. In addition to constipation, you may experience side effects like stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. If you take between 225 and 450 mg of zinc, you are likely to experience vomiting. If you experience constipation or other effects related to zinc supplementation, talk to your physician about changing your dosage.
While constipation and other abdominal upset symptoms can be temporary effects associated with zinc overdose, continuing to take excess amounts of supplements can cause you to experience a copper deficiency. Because your body requires copper to perform regular daily functions, it is important to maintain a proper balance and avoid taking too much zinc.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.