Many of us know zinc as a vital trace element. But did you know that a zinc overdose can be harmful? How much zinc is too much and how do you recognize an overdose? The answers can be found here.
Zinc is not only a chemical element and mineral that occurs in nature. It is also essential for all (yes, all!) known living beings. This means that the substance cannot be produced in our organism and we have to get zinc, for example, through the diet. In short, the sufficient supply of zinc is vital.
But more zinc is not automatically better. Zinc overdose or even zinc poisoning can be the unpleasant consequences. How you recognize them, what you can do about it and why too much zinc can be toxic to us at all, we have summarized here for you.
Zinc is vital… and toxic!
Zinc is needed by our body for many important processes. From cell growth to metabolism, to the functions of enzymes and even our mental performance. Nothing works without zinc.
But why is it bad to get too much of the trace element?
One might think that this is because zinc is a heavy metal and has a toxic effect on most living beings. However, it has been shown that this effect on us humans is relatively small and therefore only becomes beating at extremely high amounts. Rather, it is the interactions with other mineralsthat make a zinc overdose problematic.
Zinc and iron, or copper, are not at all compatible. This means that an overdose of zinc can hinder the absorption of iron and copper. Since both minerals are also essential for our body, this can in turn lead to problems.
But how does a zinc overdose occur and how can you avoid it?
How does an overdose with zinc occur?
The general upper limit for the unproblematic daily intake of zinc is somewhere between 25mg (recommendation of the European Food Safety Authority) and 40mg (recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, USA).
The range of variation is due to the fact that the need for zinc may vary significantly depending on gender, age and health status. Nutrition also plays a role. For example, if many phytata-containing foods, such as legumes, land on your plate, this can interfere with the absorption of zinc and thus increase your need.
So what is the reason for zinc overdoses?
If you look at the zinc content in most common foods, it quickly becomes clear that it is difficult to reach the daily upper limit through the diet. In most cases, therefore, a zinc overdose is due to the incorrect use of zinc-containing dietary supplements or medications.
If you are looking for such supplements, you should always keep an eye on the dose contained.
Since the dosage of common zinc supplements usually does not come close to the problematic values, it is all the more important to heed the recommendations for ingestion and to reduce the zinc intake via the diet if necessary.
In addition to dietary supplements, however, an overdose of zinc can also occur in more banal ways, such as the consumption of acidic beverages from zinc-containing containers or the excessive consumption of oysters.
If you suspect a zinc overdose, you should consult your doctor. But how exactly do you even know that your body has gotten too much zinc?
How to recognize a zinc overdose
Zinc overdose can manifest itself in several ways. First of all, however, it is necessary to distinguish between the negative consequences of a long-lasting excessive zinc intake and the symptoms of zinc poisoning.
As already mentioned, zinc can inhibit the absorption of iron and copper in the body. If you take up too much zinc over a long period of time, there may be a shortage of iron or copper.
Pay attention to these symptoms:
- Fatigue and weakness in the limbs
- Fragile nails
- Anaemia (anemia)
- Hair loss
- Concentration disorders
- mental lability
If you take large amounts of zinc, this can lead to zinc poisoning. This is different.
What is the difference between zinc overdose and zinc poisoning?
As a heavy metal, zinc is, as already mentioned, toxic. Although the toxicity is not very pronounced for us humans, too much zinc can cause poisoning. The symptoms are more severe depending on the degree of poisoning.
Pay attention to:
- Nausea (incl. vomiting)
- Painful gastrointestinal cramps
- metallic taste in the mouth
- Fever with chills
If you suspect you are suffering from a zinc overdose or poisoning, quick action is required. So let’s look at what to do.
What to do with a zinc overdose?
Sounds logical, it’s also: Whether you’re dealing with a zinc overdose or zinc poisoning. The first step should always be a reduction of the zinc absorbed. Therefore, if you take zinc-containing supplements, you should definitely stop taking them if you notice the above symptoms.
Against nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, it is important to soothe your stomach and compensate for the lost fluid. Grab light food and teashere. especially:
- Fennel or chamomile tea
- lightly electrolyte-containing beverages
- Chicken or vegetable broth
Since the excretion of zinc is relatively slow, the symptoms can persist for a while even after reduced zinc intake.
In general, however, if you suspect a zinc overdose, you should in any case visit your GP and seek advice.
The most important thing in summary: Always pay attention to your zinc household
As you can see, an unbalanced mineral balance in the body can be quite problematic. If you take more iron, zinc or copper, you should also make sure that you get enough of other essential trace elements.
If you show symptoms of a zinc overdose or a lack of iron or copper, you should first reduce your zinc intake.
Although the symptoms are usually well treated with home remedies and subside by themselves, you should definitely seek medical advice as well.
Whether it’s too little or too much, when it comes to essential nutrients, you should always find the right balance for yourself and pay attention to your zinc balance. This is the only way to make sure that your body gets everything it needs.