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Zinc is an essential mineral that plays many important roles in the body. Zinc supplements can be beneficial for correcting zinc deficiencies, boosting immunity, improving skin health, and more. Here is a comprehensive guide to zinc supplements in Australia.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a trace mineral found throughout the body and is required for the function of over 300 enzymes. It plays crucial roles in:

  • Immune system function – Zinc helps activate T-lymphocytes and is needed for proper immune cell development.
  • Wound healing – Zinc assists in the growth and repair of tissue.
  • Growth and development – Zinc is vital for childhood growth and development.
  • DNA and protein synthesis – Zinc is required to synthesize DNA and proteins.
  • Cell division – Zinc is needed for normal cell division and cell growth.
  • Taste and smell – Zinc is important for normal taste and smell sensation.

Zinc Deficiency

While zinc deficiency is uncommon in Australia, certain groups are at higher risk:

  • Vegetarians and vegans – Plant foods contain less bioavailable zinc than animal foods.
  • Older infants who are exclusively breastfed – Breast milk alone does not provide enough zinc for infants over 6 months.
  • People with digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease – These conditions impair zinc absorption.
  • Alcoholics – Alcoholism is associated with low zinc levels.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency can include:

  • Impaired immunity and frequent infections
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Skin lesions
  • Diarrhea
  • Growth retardation in children

Benefits of Zinc Tablets

Taking a zinc supplement can provide benefits when zinc intake is inadequate.

Research shows zinc supplements may help:

  • Treat zinc deficiency and its symptoms
  • Reduce the severity and duration of the common cold
  • Support blood sugar control in diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration
  • Improve severe acne when applied topically
  • Support heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol

Zinc Supplement Forms

There are several types of zinc supplements available:

  • Zinc gluconate – Well absorbed, gentle on the stomach
  • Zinc picolinate – Very well absorbed
  • Zinc acetate – Well absorbed, inexpensive
  • Zinc citrate – Well absorbed, less likely to cause nausea
  • Zinc orotate – Very well absorbed, good for heart health

Zinc sulfate is also common but more likely to cause stomach upset.

Zinc Dosage

The recommended daily intake for zinc in Australia is:

  • Infants 7-12 months: 3 mg
  • Children 1-3 years: 3 mg
  • Children 4-8 years: 4 mg
  • Males 9-13 years: 6 mg
  • Males 14-18 years: 13 mg
  • Males 19+ years: 14 mg
  • Females 9-13 years: 6 mg
  • Females 14-18 years: 7 mg
  • Females 19+ years: 8 mg
  • Pregnancy 14-18 years: 10 mg
  • Pregnancy 19+ years: 11 mg
  • Lactation 14-18 years: 11 mg
  • Lactation 19+ years: 12 mg
Age/Gender RDI
Infants 7-12 months 3 mg
Children 1-3 years 3 mg
Children 4-8 years 4 mg
Males 9-13 years 6 mg
Males 14-18 years 13 mg
Males 19+ years 14 mg
Females 9-13 years 6 mg
Females 14-18 years 7 mg
Females 19+ years 8 mg
Pregnancy 14-18 years 10 mg
Pregnancy 19+ years 11 mg
Lactation 14-18 years 11 mg
Lactation 19+ years 12 mg

Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Recommended Dietary Intakes. Commonwealth of Australia, 2006.

Upper Level of Intake for Zinc in Australia

Age/Gender Upper Level
Infants 0-6 months 4 mg
Infants 7-12 months 5 mg
Children 1-3 years 7 mg
Children 4-8 years 12 mg
Males and Females 9-13 years 25 mg
Males and females 14-18 years 35 mg
Males and females 19+ years 40 mg

Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Recommended Dietary Intakes. Commonwealth of Australia, 2006.

The Upper Level intake for zinc is:

  • Infants 0-6 months: 4 mg
  • Infants 7-12 months: 5 mg
  • Children 1-3 years: 7 mg
  • Children 4-8 years: 12 mg
  • Males and Females 9-13 years: 25 mg
  • Males and females 14-18 years: 35 mg
  • Males and females 19+ years: 40 mg

For zinc deficiency, doses up to 30 mg daily may be used short-term. Long-term supplementation should not exceed 40 mg daily. Excess zinc can impair copper absorption and immune function.

Some top-rated zinc supplements available in Australia include:

When taking zinc supplements, be sure to follow dosage recommendations carefully and consult your healthcare provider, especially if using high doses. Excess zinc can impair immune function and copper absorption.

Zinc Supplements FAQs

Should I take zinc on an empty stomach?

For maximum absorption, take zinc supplements 1-2 hours before or after meals.

Does zinc interact with medications?

Zinc can interact with certain antibiotics, diuretics, and penicillamine. Consult your doctor before taking zinc.

Is it safe to take zinc long-term?

Doses up to 40mg daily are likely safe long-term for adults when taken under medical supervision. Higher doses should be limited to short durations.

Can too much zinc be harmful?

Yes, high zinc doses over 150 mg daily can impair immune function and copper status. Limit supplementation to the recommended upper limit.

Are zinc lozenges effective?

Some studies show zinc lozenges may reduce cold duration, but the evidence is mixed. They may provide benefits when taken immediately at first cold symptoms.

The Bottom Line

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in immunity, growth, wound healing, and other vital processes. Zinc supplementation may benefit those at risk of deficiency to it. Look for zinc gluconate, picolinate, citrate or acetate. Follow dosage guidelines carefully and consult your healthcare provider before use.

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