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    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Zinc supplements cause problems

    With at least two flus and plenty of colds, coughs and sore throats circulating this season, some Americans are turning to zinc to ward off viruses.

    Lozenges, supplements and nasal sprays that contain the mineral claim to boost immunity, and there is some evidence that they might do so. In an effort to stay well, though, we might be making ourselves sick. Lozenges, supplements, and nasal sprays that contain" zinc "claim to boost immunity, and some doctors have prescribed supplements containing "80 milligrams of zinc" for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients to stave off blindness. However, according to a 2007 study published in the journal Experimental Eye Research, zinc "builds up in the back of the retina in people with macular degeneration and that "people who take these extra-large" zinc "supplements for years are 50% more likely to end up in the hospital with urinary tract problems."

    Also excessive amounts of zinc, according to early evidence, could lead to learning and memory problems, nerve damage, urinary tract problems and other negative effects.

    With supplements that provide many times the recommended daily intake, cold medicines that are loaded with zinc and an abundance of fortified foods -- on top of the zinc already in a healthy diet -- overdoing it might be easier than you think.
    Where can zinc be found?

    There are more than 75 milligrams of zinc in six oysters, nearly 9 milligrams in a 3-ounce serving of cooked beef shanks, more than 3 milligrams in a cup of baked beans, 15 milligrams in a cup of some fortified cereals and 15 milligrams in many multivitamins.

    All that zinc adds up. Studies show that consuming at least 50 milligrams a day for a few months could lead to copper deficiency, which can cause anemia, bone loss, nerve damage and other problems. Taking in 80 or 100 milligrams or more for months or even years can cause bigger problems, some irreversible. A typical, over-the-counter zinc supplement contains 50 milligrams. There are 13 milligrams in one popular brand of zinc lozenges.

    Zinc, copper and iron are all found in the plaque that builds up in brains of Alzheimer's patients. And while researchers try to figure out what that means, data suggest that removing zinc from the brain slows mental decline.

    Denture cream

    Zinc raised other alarms last year, when researchers began to notice weakness, balance and memory issues and other neurological trouble in some patients. Sleuthing revealed the only common link: All of the patients used large amounts of denture cream enhanced with zinc.

    Patients in the study,had been using up to two tubes a week of Poligrip or Fixodent creams for many months or even years.
    Zinc concentrations ranged from 17 to 34 milligrams per gram of denture cream, testing showed. That means that some people were exposed to as much as 330 milligrams of zinc a day, Packages of Super Poligrip now include inserts telling people to talk to their doctors if also taking zinc supplements and to use the products as directed.

    Nasal sprays

    Researchers recommend avoiding nasal sprays containing zinc, as well. An October study in the journal PLoS One found that the Zicam brand of homeopathic zinc-enriched nasal spray caused long-term damage to the sense of smell in mice and signs of nasal nerve damage in people.

    When it comes to supplements, sucking on zinc lozenges as soon as you get a cold may help and probably won't hurt, experts say, as long as you don't suck on them all day every day for the entire flu season. A week should be fine.

    Some promising research is also starting to suggest that a tiny bit of copper supplementation can help override the dangers of getting too much zinc. In the meantime, experts suggest staying well the old-fashioned way: Eat a healthy diet, and stop staying up so late.

    Please remember, as with all our articles we provide information, not medical advice. For any treatment of your own medical condition you must visit your local doctor, with or without our article[s]. These articles are not to be taken as individual medical advice.

    Deepen your understanding of "medical malpractice"...

    For more health info and links visit the author's web site


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