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Dangers of Taking Too Much Zinc

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Happened across this article in the LA Times:

www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-zinc21-2009dec21,0,5525709.story

It discusses the risks associated with consuming too much zinc, ranging from memory problems to prostate cancer.

I've definitely noticed improvement with my acne when taking zinc (4-5 X 23mg) when I have a cold, and sometimes have continued taking the zinc lozenges (1-3 X 23mg) even afterward, simply to deal with acne. This article makes me question how wise that really is...

Maybe the better thing to do is focus on how to get my body to better absorb zinc, instead of taking taking zinc supplements. Any ideas? I've read that phytic acid can prevent absorption of zinc, so maybe no red meat with beans or whole grains?

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Well, you could soak whole grains and beans overnight to reduce phytic acid.

Don't know if this applies to you, but some people need higher amounts of zinc because of heavy metal toxicity... specifically mercury and/or copper toxicity. Mercury interferes with zinc, and zinc lowers copper absorption. I have mercury toxicity and I did have copper toxicity at one point, and taking zinc (50 mg+ a day) has helped me dramatically in certain ways.

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I used to drink a ton of caffeine, coffee and energy drinks, which I'm pretty sure caused me to become zinc deficient. Once I started taking 50mg of zinc a day, right away I had way more energy (I'm a runner so I'm in decent shaped, but even I'd been getting tired walking up 2 flights of stairs) and some of my acne cleared up. In my opinion, I think you should keep taking it until you stop noticing any more benefits since that would signal that you're not longer deficient.

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Those are both really interesting points. Regarding caffeine, I just stopped drinking caffeinated coffee (which I used to consume a lot) and have switched to decaf. So hopefully that has some impact on being able to absorb more zinc. About heavy metals, I also recently started using a water filter at home simply because the chlorine tastes awful. Of course, I have no idea if my water without the filter has any significant amount of heavy metals in it...Anyways, I'll see if these two things improve my acne, in which case I might attribute it to better zinc absorption.

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I took Zinc for a couple weeks and I had to stop - I couldn't take the things it was doing to my body anymore. It helped me a lot but I'd rather have bad skin than go through what I did daily. It consisted of constant headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and charley horses (they are the WORST freaking cramps ever, and I got them almost every day!!!)

Edit - I didn't know of the caffeine/zinc correlation! That explains a lot. I consume huge amounts of caffeine daily and I think I may have a lead on my acne!

Edited by Ḻyssa

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Generally these types of negative issues aren't a concern with short term supplementation as long as the dose is kept in a reasonable range. It shouldn't tak more than 3-6 months of zinc therapy to correct a deficiency. If you have been on high dose zinc for longer and are still waiting to see improvement, it may be time to try some other treatments. It is also possible you may have digestive problems and aren't assimilating zinc correctly.

I usually recommend no more than 60-75mg of supplemental zinc (preferably Zinc methionine, zinc picolinate or zinc amino acid chelate) along with 1-3mg supplemental copper to clients with acne, for up to 6 months.

Keep in mind, if your digestion is poor, supplementing will do you no good. Digestive problems need to be dealt with before you can heal.

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