A high zinc diet can be extremely beneficial to your health and weight loss plan. However, whether you are consuming the majority of your daily zinc intake through supplements or food, there are harmful risks associated with zinc that you should be aware of.
Risk #1: Lowered Immunity
While zinc is effective in strengthening your immune system, too much zinc can actually result in lowering your immune function. When your immune system is not functioning properly, you are more susceptible to:
- slow wound healing
Vegetarians who are supplementing their diets with zinc can accidentally fall victim to these symptoms. It is easy to forget the high zinc content in vegetarian foods such as:
- pumpkin seeds
- baked beans
These foods are fine in moderation when combined with zinc supplements, but there are other vegetarian foods with moderate amounts of zinc that are a better choice to consume more regularly:
- peanut butter
- dried figs
Risk #2: Stomach Irritation
Stomach irritation due to an excess of zinc can occur when you exceed your daily allowance of zinc for an extended period of time, or when you overdose on zinc in a single day. Adult women need 8 mg of zinc per day and adult men need 11 mg of zinc per day. Since your body does not absorb 100% of the zinc you consume on a daily basis, a supplement containing approximately 40 mg of zinc should be tolerable for an adult.
If you consume 150 mg – 500 mg of zinc daily, you will experience stomach irritation such as diarrhea. If your nutrition plan is high in zinc, and you are also supplementing your diet with zinc, you should consult a physician to determine whether or not you are consuming too much zinc.
Risk #3: Loss of Taste and Smell
Too much zinc can reduce your body’s sense of taste and smell. This is especially prevalent in zinc lozenges. Since you suck on lozenges, your mouth is being exposed to high levels of zinc for extended periods of time. If you are using a zinc nasal spray, the same result can occur in your nostrils. It is best to only use lozenges and nasal sprays to fight temporary illness, and avoid long term use.
Your zinc intake seems easy enough to monitor independently, but it can get extremely complicated. It is always best to consult a physician if you feel your zinc intake needs to be adjusted. Only your doctor knows your specific medical history, which dictates your unique individual daily zinc allowance.