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Much Zinc? Zinc Toxicity

written by: Kumara Velu • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 4/28/2010

Zinc is an essential mineral for your well-being, but can you take too much zinc? Read on to find out the recommended daily allowance and upper intake levels for zinc.

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    Among the many minerals that are responsible for our good health, zinc is an important one.

    Zinc plays an important part in maintaining cellular metabolism. An adequate amount of zinc must be present in our bodies. It must be present for the development of a strong immune system and for protein synthesis, cell division and wound healing, among others.

    Zinc contributes to growth and development during childhood, adolescence and even during pregnancy. It even contributes to our sense of smell and taste. So, how much zinc can you take? Can you take too much zinc?

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    Daily Intake

    You would require a daily intake of zinc as the body doesn’t store the mineral for future use.

    By now you would be wondering how much zinc the body needs a day to maintain good health. Let’s take a look at the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc.

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    RDA for Zinc

    The RDA for zinc is broken down into age and gender categories in the main. There are also different allowances for pregnant and lactating females.

    A male or female baby up to six months old would need a daily zinc intake of two mg. A child of either sex aged seven months to three years would require three mg of zinc daily. A child of either sex from four years to eight years old would require a daily intake of eight mg of zinc.

    The recommended daily intake for zinc changes after 14 years of age. Between the ages of 14 to 18, a male would need 11mg of zinc while a female could make do with nine mg.

    However, a pregnant female would require 13 mg of zinc and one in lactation would require 14 mg of zinc.

    A male 19 years and above would require a daily intake of 11mg and a female in this age category would require eight mg. If pregnant, she would require 11 mg and if lactating, 12 mg.

    How do you get your daily zinc intake?

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    Zinc Sources

    Among the foods that have a high content of zinc are oysters, red meat, poultry and seafood such as crab and lobster. Dairy products, beans, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals and whole grains are also excellent sources of zinc.

    Zinc is also found in certain medication like cold lozenges and certain drugs for cold relief sold over the counter.

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    Excessive Zinc

    Zinc toxicity can result from a high level of zinc content in the body usually as a result of excessive consumption of zinc supplements. This Its symptoms include vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches and loss of appetite, among others.

    Studies have shown that an intake of four grams of zinc resulted in severe vomiting and nausea within 30 minutes.

    If you’re concerned about excessive zinc intake, you could use the Tolerance Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Zinc provided by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine as guide.

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    Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Zinc

    • Babies aged up to six months old – four mg
    • Babies from seven to 12 months – five mg
    • Children from one to three years – seven mg
    • Children from 9 to 13 years – 23 mg
    • Male and female (including pregnant and lactating) 14 to 18 years – 34 mg
    • Male and female (including pregnant and lactating) 19 years and above – 40 mg
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    General zinc information. Can you take too much zinc? - Office of dietary supplements:

    Upper Intake Levels for zinc - Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies