Consuming too much zinc can cause health issues, as it can disrupt the body's natural balance and lead to toxicity. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many biological functions, including immune system function, wound healing, and proper growth and development. However, too much zinc intake can lead to adverse health effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, headaches, and fatigue.
It is estimated that the safe upper limit of zinc intake for adults is around 40 mg per day, as consuming more than this amount can lead to zinc toxicity. This can occur through high levels of zinc in supplements, fortified foods, or excessive intakes of shellfish, beef, and pork. Zinc toxicity can also arise from prolonged exposure to high levels of zinc in the workplace, such as in the mining, welding, and battery manufacturing industries.
Furthermore, excessive zinc intake can impair the absorption and utilisation of other minerals, such as copper, leading to copper deficiency. This can cause anaemia, neutropenia, and neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms. Additionally, chronic consumption of high levels of zinc may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
In pregnant women, excessive zinc intake can interfere with foetal development and lead to genetic abnormalities. Babies who are born to mothers with high zinc levels may also experience developmental delays and cognitive impairments.
Additionally, excess zinc consumption may lower insulin sensitivity, leading to insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes. You can avoid overconsumption of zinc by taking correct steps. Read on as we share tips to prevent and treat zinc toxicity.
Tips to prevent and treat overconsumption of zinc:
1. Monitor levels
It is important to have regular check-ups with a healthcare professional to monitor zinc levels in the body. This is particularly important for individuals who take zinc supplements or have a diet high in zinc.
2. Limit intake
The daily recommended intake of zinc for adults is 8-11mg, and up to 25mg is considered safe. Overconsumption of zinc can lead to toxicity, therefore it is important to limit intake and avoid excessive dosages.
3. Avoid zinc supplements
Zinc supplements should only be taken under the strict guidance of a healthcare professional. Over-the-counter supplements and multivitamins can contain high doses of zinc which can lead to toxicity.
4. Eat a balanced diet
A well-balanced diet can provide adequate amounts of zinc, without the need for supplements. Foods rich in zinc include meat, seafood, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
5. Be aware of zinc-fortified foods
Some foods, such as cereals and bread, are fortified with zinc. While this can be beneficial for individuals who struggle to meet their daily zinc needs, overconsumption of these foods can lead to toxicity.
6. Seek medical attention
If symptoms of zinc toxicity arise, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, headaches, and fatigue.
7. Treat underlying conditions
Zinc toxicity can be a side effect of other medical conditions, such as Wilson's disease. It is important to treat these underlying conditions to prevent further zinc toxicity.
In conclusion, while zinc is an essential nutrient that provides numerous health benefits, excessive intake of zinc can result in harmful effects. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist before taking any supplements or making significant changes to your diet. Moderation is key when it comes to zinc intake, and avoiding excessive amounts is crucial for maintaining optimal health.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.