Health Guide


What is it?

Zinc is an essential trace element. Supplements are used to treat problems caused by not having enough zinc in the body, such as slow healing. It is also used for treating the common cold, Wilson's disease, dental plaque, and acne, and it may boost the immune system.

Other names for zinc include: Zinc acetate, Zinc gluconate, Zinc picolinate, Zinc sulfate, Zincum.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement).
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
  • are breastfeeding.
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease.


Talk with your caregiver about how much zinc you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking zinc. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take zinc without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Caffeine, found both in foods (such as coffee, chocolate, and cola) and in some medicines (such as NoDoz(R), Excedrin(R), Revive(R), and Vivarin(R)) (25)
  • Dairy foods or whole-grain foods (take zinc 2 hours after or 1 hour before food or drink) (24,27)
  • Medicines used to treat infection (antibiotics, examples: ciprofloxacin (Cipro(R)), levofloxacin (Levaquin(R)), moxifloxacin (Avelox(R)), tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline) (15-23)
  • Penicillamine (Cuprimine(R), Depen(R)) (7)
  • Copper, iron, or products that contain copper or iron (7,25,26)
  • Medicines used to treat low blood platelet counts (example: eltrombopag (Promacta (R)) (28)


  • Before taking zinc, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Do not take more than 15 milligrams a day of zinc supplements for a long time unless your doctor tells you to (1).
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacists about what time you should take zinc relative to other medicines and food. You may have to allow as much as 6 hours between the time that you take zinc and the time you take another medicine or eat a certain food. The amount of time is different depending on what other medicine you take or food you eat (15-24).

Side Effects:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hand, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Nausea or vomiting (4)
  • Bad taste or a metal taste in your mouth (5)


1. National Research Council: Vitamin E. Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ed. National Academy Press, Washington, DC; 1998.

2. Anon: Drug Facts and Comparisons. Facts and Comparisons Inc, St Louis, MO; 1998.

3. Product Information: Galzin(TM), zinc acetate. Gate Pharmaceuticals, Sellersville, PA; 1997.

4. Reynolds JEF (ed): Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia (electronic version). Micromedex Inc, Englewood, CO; 1996.

5. Mossad SB, Macknin ML, Medendorp SV et al: zinc gluconate lozenges for treating the common cold: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Ann Intern Med 1996; 125:81-88.

6. Murray M & Pizzorno J: Zinc. In: The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, revised 2nd ed. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA; 1998.

7. Facinformation: Zinkit(R), zinksulfat. Woerwag Pharma BmbH, Boeblinger, Germany; 1997.

8. Polk RE, Healy DP, Sahai J et al: Effect of ferrous sulfate and multivitamins with zinc on absorption of ciprofloxacin in normal volunteers. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1989; 33(11):1841-1844.

9. Finnerty EF: Topical zinc in the treatment of herpes simplex. Cutis 1986; 37(2):130-131.

10. Fachinformation: Mitosyl(R), zinkoxid. Synthelabo Arzneimittel GmbH, Pucheim, Germany; 1995.

11. Faure P, Benhamor PY, Perard A et al: Lipid peroxidation in insulin-dependent diabetic patients with early retina degenerative lesions: effects of an oral zinc supplementation. Eur J Clin Nutr 1995; 49(4):282-288.

12. Mathur NK & Bumb RA: Oral zinc in the trophic ulcers of leprosy (letter). Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis 1983; 51(3):410-411.

13. Fortes C, Forastiere F, Agabiti N et al: Effect of zinc and vitamin A supplementation on immune response in an older population. J Am Geriatr Soc 1998; 46(1):19-26.

14. Goranson K, Liden S & Odsell L: Oral zinc in acne vulgaris: a clinical and methodological study. Acta Derm Venerol 1978; 58(5):443-448.

15. Product Information: Avelox(TM), moxifloxacin hydrochloride. Bayer Corporation, West Haven, CT, 2000.

16. Product Information: Cipro(R), ciprofloxacin. Bayer Corporation, West Haven, CT, 2002.

17. Product Information: Factive(R), gemifloxacin mesylate tablets. Genesoft Pharmaceuticals, Seoul, Korea, 2003.

18. Product Information: Floxin(R), ofloxacin. Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., Raritan, NJ, 2000.

19. Product Information: Levaquin(R), levofloxacin. Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., Raritan, NJ, 2000.

20. Product Information: Noroxin(R), norfloxacin. Merck & Co., West Point, PA, 1999.

21. Product Information: Tequin(TM), gatifloxacin. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ, 1999.

22. Andersson KE, Bratt L, Dencker H, et al: Inhibition of tetracycline absorption by zinc. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1976; 10:59-62.

23. Penttila O, Hurme H, & Neuvonen PJ: Effect of zinc sulfate on the absorption of tetracycline and doxycycline in man. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1975; 9:131-134.

24. Pecoud A, Donzel P, & Schelling JL: Effect of foodstuffs on the absorption of zinc sulfate. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1975; 17:469-474.

25. Lind T, Lonnerdal B, Stenlund H, et al: A community-based randomized controlled trail of iron and zinc supplementation in Indonesian infants: effects on growth and development.. Am J Clin Nutr 2004; 80:729-736.

26. O'Brien KO, Zavaleta N, Caulfield LE, et al: Prenatal iron supplements impair zinc absorption in pregnant Peruvian women. J Nutr 2000; 130(9):2251-2255.

27. Product Information: GALZIN(TM), oral capsule, zinc acetate oral capsule. Gate Pharmaceuticals, Sellersville, PA, 2002.

28. Product Information: PROMACTA(R) oral tablets, eltrombopag oral tablets. Glaxo Smith Kline, Research Triangle Park, NC, 2008.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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