Zinc Drops: Benefits and Risks
Zinc is a powerful mineral that both treats ailments and enhances the body’s performance. While many foods are rich sources of zinc, you can also get your daily dose of zinc by taking a supplement.
Oral supplements are the most common type of zinc available over the counter. Taken by mouth, these include pills, tablets, lozenges, and liquid. We will be focusing on the liquid form, sold as drops, since it is one of the most convenient ways to get your zinc needs on the go.
Like any medication, zinc supplements come with many benefits – and some minor risks. Before you decide to try zinc drops for yourself, read on to discover if they are right for you!
Benefits of Zinc Drops
There are a wide variety of benefits associated with taking zinc drops.
If you have taken zinc before, it may have been for symptoms of the common cold. Research shows that taking zinc within 24 hours of symptom onset can help you feel better faster. Reach for zinc drops the next time you’re feeling under the weather, as they can reduce the duration and severity of your illness.
Zinc can also help you treat skin irritation and inflammation. Usually, topical zinc treatments, rather than oral zinc drops, are used to soothe rashes, eczema, and more. However, if you tend to break out in pimples when you’re stressed or hormonal, taking zinc might help you achieve clearer skin. Some dermatologists recommend oral zinc supplements for reducing acne.
And zinc isn’t just helpful for treating surface-level ailments, either: it can also help your body perform better internally. Zinc plays an important role in heart health, enhancing the organ’s effectiveness and functionality. One of the ways zinc improves heart health is through reducing high blood sugar, lowering your risk of developing type II diabetes – a major risk factor for heart disease.
Some people, who don’t get enough zinc through food, may need to take zinc supplements to combat the effects of zinc deficiency. This is especially common in vegetarians and vegans, as zinc is found more frequently in animal products than in plants. These effects appear to be especially pronounced in women, who need adequate zinc intake to support a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor can tell you through a simple blood test if this is the case for you.
If you are zinc deficient, you will need to take a zinc supplement to get your zinc back up to normal levels. People who are zinc deficient tend to take higher doses of zinc than those just looking for a daily preventative or treatment for a minor ailment. Speak to your doctor before taking zinc drops to determine the proper dosage for you.
As with any supplement, there are some minor risks associated with taking zinc drops.
Most of these risks can be thwarted by taking the right amount of zinc for your body. Some people might assume that the more zinc they take, the more they will experience its benefits – but this could not be further from the truth.
Taking too much zinc can lead to unpleasant side effects, the most common of which is nausea or vomiting. In the long term, taking too much zinc can also lower your levels of good HDL cholesterol in the body, which helps keep your bad LDL cholesterol levels in check.
You can prevent these effects by checking with your doctor to determine the right dosage of zinc for you. You should never exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake level of zinc – a.k.a. the maximum amount of zinc you should consume in a day, as recommended by nutrition professionals – unless directed by your doctor. For most adults, the Tolerable Upper Intake level is 40 mg of zinc per day.
In some cases, zinc may interact with other medications or supplements you are taking.
If you are taking antibiotics, you should take them at least 2 hours before or 4-6 hours after taking a zinc supplement, as taking them together can inhibit the body’s absorption of both zinc and the antibiotic. The same is true for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a type of over-the-counter pain reliever, and certain drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
People taking the class of blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors or taking diuretics should also be wary of taking zinc without a doctor’s supervision. If you are currently using any prescription or over-the-counter medications, we recommend speaking to your doctor about whether zinc supplements are right for you.
Like any supplement, zinc drops offer tremendous benefits – when taken by the right people, at the right dose. These benefits include reducing the length and severity of the common cold, preventing acne breakouts, and rectifying zinc deficiencies, especially in female vegetarians or vegans. However, zinc supplements are not suitable for everybody. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially if you are taking another prescription or over-the-counter medication.
Cervantes et. al. (2018). The role of zinc in the treatment of acne: A review of the literature. Dermatologic Therapy, 31(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.12576
Ehrlich, S. (2007, September 26). Possible interactions with: Zinc. St. Luke’s Hospital. https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000999.htm
Hemila, H. (2017). Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Open, 8(5). https://doi.org/10.1177/2054270417694291
Hughes, S, Samman, S. (2006). The effect of zinc supplementation in humans on plasma lipids, antioxidant status and thrombogenesis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 25(4). https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2006.10719537
Office of Dietary Supplements (2020, July 15). Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
Rutter et. al. (2015). Intracellular zinc in insulin secretion and action: a determinant of diabetes risk? The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75(1). https://doi.org/10.1017/s0029665115003237
Science et. al. (2012). Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(10). https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.111990