Zinc is necessary for our health. But like many things, it can be harmful if you take too much. Just what is zinc? It is a naturally occurring mineral that supports growth, heals wounds, and keeps our immune system strong. In the United States, we are lucky that zinc deficiency is rare because we usually meet or go above our recommended daily allowance. Yet, too much zinc becomes a problem when taking supplements or using creams that contain the mineral.
Reasons People Take Zinc
There are many reasons people take zinc and it is in a lot of products we use every day. The mineral is normally taken for:
- Treating a cold
- Fighting infections
- Cream for diaper or skin rashes
- Eye diseases
Besides taking zinc supplements, there are a few other products you may not realize have zinc in them. For example, some toothpaste and mouthwashes have zinc citrate in them, eye products, and nasal sprays. If you take a zinc supplement, you may be unknowingly exposing yourself to more zinc than is recommended if you use these products. So how do you know if you have had too much zinc?
Too Much Zinc is Dangerous
While zinc is a necessary part of our diet, there are dangerous effects of ingesting or exposing ourselves to too much zinc. There are a few things to watch for that will signal you have been taking too much zinc. One of the biggest problems people experience is an upset stomach or other digestive problems. These could include cramps, heartburn, or indigestion.
Zinc does help the immune system, but too much zinc can actually decrease the functioning of the immune system. This can be dangerous to those who already have a lowered immune function or are fighting off an infection.
Too much zinc in your body will throw your minerals off balance. Since zinc competes with copper, too much zinc can cause an iron and copper deficiency. Having a decreased level of iron and copper can cause fatigue, anemia, and paleness of the skin.
Another downside to taking too much zinc is a reduction in your sense or smell or taste. Some people noticed a metallic smell in their mouth or their food tasting different. While this is not dangerous, it gets pretty annoying.
Overdosing on Zinc
It is possible to overdose on zinc, which is extremely dangerous. Normally an overdose is caused by accidentally taking too much zinc over longer periods of time. This is also called zinc toxicity. Signs of an overdose or zinc toxicity include:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
If you experience any of these while taking a zinc supplement, you should stop taking it immediately and call your doctor.
Zinc is a naturally occurring mineral in our body and is necessary for us to function properly. Yet, too much zinc, whether taken as a supplement or if you’ve accidentally exposed yourself to too many products with zinc, can cause problems in your body. There is also a chance of an overdose or zinc toxicity if you take anywhere between 150mg to 500mg. Everybody is different so a safe dose for one person may be a dangerous dose for another. Before taking any supplement or mineral, consult your doctor to ensure the proper dosage.