Zinc as a nootropic


David Tomen
David Tomen
17 minute read
Zinc improves alertness, cognition, focus, memory, learning, recall, reduces brain fog, is an antioxidant, helps neuroplasticity, and protects against glutamate-toxicity.

Zinc is an essential trace element required for optimal brain health and cognition.

Zinc is integral to the synthesis of proteins, the regulation of signaling cascades, gene transcription and neurotransmitter transport. It’s involved in DNA repair and synthesis and methylation.

Zinc as a nootropicYou may think of zinc as a natural cold remedy or the white lip balm you use at the beach. But zinc is needed in small amounts every day to maintain optimal brain function and overall health.

In practical terms, adequate levels of zinc in your system work as an antioxidant fighting free radical damage. It helps maintain both male and female hormone balance. And zinc plays a role in neurotransmitter release affecting learning, memory and mood.[i]

When zinc levels are low, you’ll feel fatigued, concentration will be poor, you’ll get sick more often, and simple wounds won’t heal.

Here we’ll investigate why zinc is critical for optimal brain performance. And if you suspect you may be deficient, you may want to consider adding zinc to your nootropic stack. Because your stack may not work as well without it.

Zinc helps:

  • Neurotransmission: Zinc inhibits NMDA receptors which reduces glutamate toxicity. And zinc modulates the activity of proteins such as receptors and enzymes that are involved in the regulation of macromolecules, the regulation of signaling cascades and gene transcription, and transport processes.
  • Anxiety & Depression: Low zinc levels are found in depression, and the lower the level the more severe the depression. Zinc increases serotonin uptake in select brain regions which increases the efficacy of antidepressants. And it reduces depression because is increases BDNF.
  • Neuroprotectant: Zinc is involved in preserving genomic stability by regulation of redox homeostasis (both oxidant and antioxidant signaling), DNA repair, synthesis, and methylation. Zinc inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines (including nuclear factor-κB). And zinc protects against cognitive decline due to toxic copper levels.[ii]


Zinc is a trace element that plays an essential role in overall human health and cognition.

Zinc is required for the catalytic activity of around 100 enzymes. It’s involved in immune response, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division.

Adequate levels of zinc are crucial for growth and development when you’re young. And required for proper taste and smell.

Zinc tablets from the shipwreck of “Relitto del Pozzino” 120 B.C.
The A/6 pyxis before it was opened (A) and the pyxis showing its contents (B).

Our earliest physical evidence of zinc for therapeutic use comes from the wreck of the ancient ship “Relitto del Pozzino” which sank off the coast of Tuscany around 120 B.C. Archaeologists found the remains of a 2,000 year old medicine chest containing several tin pyxis (cylindrical box with a lid).

Inside one of the tins were five medicinal tablets about the size of an American quarter and perfectly preserved. The pills contained a zinc compound which ancient writings tell us may have been used as an eyewash.[iii]

Zinc deficiency is common around the world including in the USA. This deficiency occurs because we don’t eat enough foods that contain zinc.[iv] Your body needs about 10 – 20 mg of zinc per day because it can’t store zinc.

You get zinc from eating seafood like oysters or lobster. Beef, pork and chicken provide smaller amounts of zinc per serving. And it’s also present in eggs, yogurt, cheese and some nuts.

But not only don’t most of us eat enough zinc-containing food, many plants contain phytates which block the absorption of zinc in your body. So vegetarians are particularly vulnerable to zinc deficiency.

We’ll dive deeper into zinc deficiency and its causes below in the section “How things go bad”. And we’ll cover the easily recognizable symptoms of deficiency as well.

zinc and brain function

How does Zinc Work in the Brain?

Zinc boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.

  1. Zinc is an antidepressant. Zinc plays a role in modulating your brain and body’s response to stress and depression. More than 100 enzymes in your body use zinc to help make DNA, protein synthesis, and cell division.

Zinc is also critical for signaling between and within neurons and other cells in your body. Zinc fingers are present in at least 3% of all your cells. Proteins that contain zinc fingers act as interaction modules that bind DNA, RNA, proteins and other molecules.[v]

Highest amounts of zinc are found in your brain. Particularly your hippocampus. Zinc deficiency can lead to symptoms of depression, aggression, seizures, violence, ADHD, and problems with learning and memory.

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that malnourished children exhibit a striking increase in behavioral disorders and aggressive behavior. Kids with nutritional deficiencies demonstrated a 41% increase in aggression at age 8! At age 17, they demonstrated a 51% increase in violent and antisocial behavior.

The malnourished kids weren’t getting enough critical minerals like zinc and iron. Or the B vitamins they needed to develop healthy nervous systems.[vi]

Levels of zinc have been found to be low in those suffering from depression. In fact, the more depressed someone is, the lower the zinc level.[vii]

Several human studies have demonstrated that supplementing zinc with SSRIs help in the effectiveness of these antidepressant drugs. One double-blind, randomized trial with 44 patients with major depression were randomly assigned to receive zinc or a placebo.

At the conclusion of the 12 week study, the researchers found that “zinc supplementation together with SSRIs antidepressant drug improves major depressive disorders more effectively than in patients with placebo plus antidepressants (SSRIs).”[viii]

  1. Zinc is required for memory formation. Research in the last decade has shown that the presence of zinc in synaptic vesicles of excitatory neurons in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus regulates synaptic plasticity.

Long-term potentiation is a form of synaptic plasticity that has been shown to underlie learning and memory. And zinc in vesicles is critical to proper function of these brain circuits.[ix]

Zinc deficiency is associated with poor memory. And deficiency impairs signaling of BDNF which is also involved in long-term potentiation and memory.[x]

One very recent study revealed that the presence of zinc changes the dynamics of release of neurotransmitters like dopamine at the neuron level.

Zinc causes the cellular pore to close more slowly than usual. Meaning the vesicle stays open longer. And releases more of the neurotransmitter molecules.

The researchers concluded, “Our results finally provide a connection between zinc and the regulation of neurotransmitter release. This could be important for the formation and storage of memories.”[xi]

Read the reviews of neurohackers supplementing with zinc and many report better energy and focus. Clinical research backs this up. But nearly always when correcting a zinc deficiency.[xii]

One Italian study investigated whether zinc supplementation could help restore memory in stroke patients. 26 patients took 10 mg of zinc daily for 30 days.

On day 30 of the trial, researchers found that zinc supplementation significantly assisted in neurological recovery in the stroke patients.[xiii]

And animal models suggest that zinc supplementation may increase resilience to Traumatic Brain Injury. For treating anxiety, depression, learning and memory deficits caused by TBI.

In this trial, rats with injury to the frontal cortex were fed either a zinc supplement or zinc supplemented diet. The rats were also given a zinc injection an hour after injury.

The research team found that zinc supplementation may be an effective treatment option for improving cognitive impairment and depression following TBI.[xiv]

zinc deficiency and the brain

How things go bad

Zinc deficiency is a problem world-wide including in countries like the United States for several reasons.

Our modern diet typically includes a lot of grains which are usually processed, packaged grain products like cereals. Zinc is found in grains. But this type of zinc is bound to phytates naturally found in these grains. Which block zinc absorption in your body.

So zinc found in whole foods like grain and legumes are not a good source of this essential trace element. And the zinc you get from eating meat can also be blocked if your meal contains grains or legumes.

Eating high carbohydrate foods, especially processed foods, in the USA and other western countries are one of the reasons zinc deficiency is increasing.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’re particularly susceptible to zinc deficiency. If you have chronic digestive problems, leaky gut syndrome, or drink too much alcohol you’re in danger of zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency symptoms include:

  • Brain fog
  • Cravings for salty or sweet foods
  • Eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Hair loss
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Impaired growth and sexual development (in kids)
  • Infertility & impotence – hypogonadism in males
  • Iron non-responsive anemia
  • Hormonal issues like bad PMS symptoms
  • Hyperactivity (as in ADHD)
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Impaired adrenal function resulting in anxiety and stress
  • Low immunity (you get colds and flu often)
  • Pica (eating dirt)
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Skin disorders like acne
  • Taste and smell problems
  • Weight loss or gain

Any of these problems can happen at any age including in the developing child. And can be a result of not getting an adequate supply of zinc.

zinc deficiency and memory loss

Zinc benefits

Zinc plays a critical role in how well your brain and body function.

Adequate levels of zinc will increase your immunity and help you fight colds. A Cochrane review concluded that “zinc (lozenges or syrup) is beneficial in reducing the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people, when taken within 24 hours of onset of symptoms”.[xv]

Zinc is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which helps support healthy cell division and a healthy brain.

Zinc balances hormones which have a direct role in not only your sexual health. But in controlling anxiety, stress, mood and sleep.

Healthy zinc levels help lower inflammation and oxidative stress. The endothelium or thin layer of cells that line blood vessels rely on adequate zinc levels. Supporting a strong blood-brain barrier and cerebral blood flow.

Zinc is involved in protein synthesis which is required by your body to use amino acids from food. Needed for neurotransmitter synthesis and providing the energy needed for mitochondria in every one of your brain cells.

Healthy energy levels and avoidance of chronic fatigue rely on adequate zinc levels.

Low zinc levels are a biomarker for depression. And under conditions of chronic stress, you tend to get rid of zinc through sweat, urine and your saliva.

So if your depressed you may want to try supplementing with zinc. Especially if you’re on SSRs or other antidepressants. Research has found antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds work better when stacked with a zinc supplement.

How does Zinc feel?

Most neurohackers report that supplementing with zinc helps relax them before bed, and they sleep better. Recovery from workouts is faster.

Many report that zinc helps boosts their libido.

zinc deficiency and anxietyZinc first thing in the morning seems to help many with energy and focus throughout the day.

Zinc supports an healthy immune system so you can avoid colds and the flu. And if you come down with a bug, zinc will shorten the duration of the illness.

Some neurohackers say zinc keeps allergies from flaring up. And many with skin problems say zinc supplementation reduces acne because it’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.

If you are Adult ADHD you may experience a decrease in anxiety or perception of stress. And notice an improvement in mood.

One thing to note from all the research is that improvements from using zinc only manifest if your zinc deficient. With our modern diets, chances are you are deficient. See “Dosage Notes for more”.

Zinc Clinical Research

Zinc’s role in anxiety & depression

The latest theory suggests that depression is associated with decreased neurogenesis and enhanced neurodegeneration. Which in part is the result of inflammation.

And lately there is mounting evidence that depression could be related to decreased zinc levels.[xvi]

Zinc deficiency leads to less zinc in neuron synapses which results in an increase in NMDA receptors. This can cause an overload of toxic glutamate.

With an overabundance of glutamate we get a decrease in GABA, BDNF, and nerve growth factor. This excitotoxicity is thought to be responsible for seizures, migraines, dementia, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.

A double-blind, placebo controlled trial in Japan worked with 30 women to study the effect of zinc supplementation on mood. Half of the women took a multivitamin. And the other half received a multivitamin with 7 mg of zinc per day for 10 weeks.

The women who took the multivitamin/zinc combo showed a significant reduction in anger, hostility, and depression. The women who took only the multivitamin showed no improvement in mood.[xvii]

Another study with depressed overweight subjects found that depression decreased in those supplementing with zinc. But zinc produced no effect on mood in those who were not depressed in the first place.

Researchers concluded that the improved mood in overweight subjects was likely through increasing BDNF levels using zinc.[xviii]

Zinc may relieve symptoms of ADHD

In the last decade, several studies have been conducted into the role trace elements like zinc and how they play in ADHD. Zinc is required for the production and modulation of melatonin which helps regulate dopamine function.[xix]

So the theory is that those with ADHD may benefit from supplementing with zinc.

A double-blind, placebo controlled trial in Turkey was conducted with 400 boys and girls with a primary diagnosis of ADHD. Half the group received 150 mg zinc sulfate for 12 weeks while the control group got a placebo.

The study concluded “Zinc monotherapy was significantly superior to placebo in reducing symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and impaired socialization in patients with ADHD.”[xx]

Another study found that free fatty acids and zinc levels were lower in those with ADHD. But concluded that they didn’t know if zinc deficiency was the principal cause of ADHD. Or a secondary finding.

A study in Croatia again showed that supplementing with 55 mg per day of zinc sulfate help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.[xxi]

Considering the major role zinc plays in everything from cell growth to DNA synthesis to neurotransmitter synthesis and transport. And if your child is diagnosed ADHD and you don’t want to start them on stimulants. You may want to try zinc with a good Omega-3 high in DHA and see if you witness any improvement in ADHD symptoms.

Zinc may prevent autism

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) range from a severe form called autistic disorder, to a milder form called Asperger syndrome. If a child has specific symptoms of either of these disorders, but does not meet specific criteria for either, the diagnosis is called pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

This complex disease can be inherited, but likely also involves environmental factors.[xxii]

A study published in Biomarker Insights in 2011 worked with 79 autistic subjects to study the association between copper and zinc plasma levels and individuals with autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS.

Participants in the study were tested for levels of zinc, copper and antioxidants. Then based on their deficiencies, they were prescribed the appropriate dose of antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, B6 as well as Magnesium, and Manganese if warranted). And they were given zinc picolinate daily for at least 8 weeks.

At the conclusion of the therapy, those with autism and PDD-NOS had significantly lower levels of copper. All three groups had higher levels of zinc.

Severity of symptoms decreased in autistic individuals following zinc and Vitamin B6 therapy with respect to awareness, receptive language, focus and attention, hyperactivity, tip toeing, eye contact, sound sensitivity, tactile sensitivity and seizures.

Interestingly, none of the symptoms in the Asperger’s patients improved after therapy.[xxiii]

Zinc Recommended Dosage

Recommended dosage is 30 mg of zinc daily, balanced with 2 mg of copper.

Zinc DosageThe best food source for zinc by far is oysters. Trailing far behind is other seafood, beef, pork, chicken, some nuts, and some dairy products.

Vegans and vegetarians take note: don’t count on getting any benefit from zinc supplied by vegetables because the phytates in veggies block zinc absorption in your body.

Your body needs zinc, but too much zinc is toxic. And it’s difficult to test for zinc using lab tests.

But there is a simple DIY test first reported in The Lancet that can help you determine zinc levels. Premier Research Labs sells a Liquid Zinc Assay that is available from most local and online vitamin shops.

You taste a teaspoon of Zinc Assay and depending on how the liquid tastes, you can assess your levels according to their guide.

Clearly there is a sweet spot for zinc consumption, and more is definitely not better. More than 50 mg per day can throw off your copper levels, mess with iron function, and reduce immune function.

Zinc Side Effects

Zinc toxicity typically happens when you take too much zinc. And can result in abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, loss of appetite and vomiting.

Antibiotics like Cipro® and tetracycline interact with zinc. Inhibiting the absorption of both zinc and the antibiotic.

Zinc can reduce the absorption of the rheumatoid arthritis drug penicillamine. To prevent this interaction you should take your zinc supplement at least 2 hours before or after you take your arthritis meds.

Some diuretics can increase urinary excretion of zinc by as much as 60%. Prolonged use of these drugs can severely deplete your zinc levels.

Zinc can raise your blood pressure. And too much zinc for men can be anti-androgenic, and will over inhibit DHT. Resulting in symptoms often associated with using the hair growth drug finasteride.

Men should also note that too much zinc can dull nerves including nerves in your penis. Because excess zinc can over-inhibit NMDA receptors.

Types of Zinc to Buy

Zinc is sold as zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, zinc ascorbate, zinc picolinate and various other forms.

zinc supplement labelThe percentage of bioavailability for zinc varies by form:

  • Zinc Ascorbate 15%
  • Zinc Bisglycinate 25%
  • Zinc Carbonate 52%
  • Zinc Citrate 31%
  • Zinc Chloride 48%
  • Zinc gluconate 30%
  • Zinc Sulphate 22%
  • Zinc Picolinate 20%

So if you’re using a Zinc Picolinate 50 mg tablet, your body may only get about 20% of that zinc for use by your cells.

But more importantly is the fine balance between copper and zinc. Zinc reduces the amount of copper your body absorbs because copper competes with zinc to bind with metallothionein (binding protein that brings zinc into the cells).

The ratio of copper and zinc in your body is more important than the amount of each.

For a preformulated vitamin/mineral blend including zinc and copper, designed to optimize your brain and body, I recommend the Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi for men or women.

This Whole-Food Multi is Performance Lab’s nutritional starting point, and base of any nootropic stack for restoring and supporting nutrient wellness to your brain and body for peak performance.

The men’s formula contains 22.5 mg of zinc and 1.5 mg of copper while the women’s formula has 10 mg of zinc and 1.5 mg of copper. These are nature-identical minerals just like you’d get from food.

You can see my full review of the Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi here.

I also use and recommend: Performance Lab® Zinc

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedZinc 30 mg per day

I recommend using Zinc as a nootropic supplement.

Your body does not make Zinc on its own. So to get its benefits it needs to come from your diet. Or you must take it as a supplement.

Zinc is especially helpful for treating anxiety and depression. Studies have demonstrated that zinc levels are low in those dealing with depression. And the lower the zinc level, the more severe the depression.

Studies have also shown that if you are having limited success using prescription anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants that you may increase their effectiveness by supplementing with zinc.

Zinc is also particularly useful in helping alleviate the hyperactivity part of ADHD. Impaired impulsivity and socialization get a boost as well.

Zinc is also required for efficiently encoding and retrieving memories.

Zinc deficiency is a problem worldwide. Especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

But too much zinc is toxic. Keep your dose of zinc below 50 mg per day. And stack it with 2 mg of copper to keep your copper/zinc ratio stable.

A great option for optimal zinc and copper for cognitive function is the Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi for men or women.

I also use and recommend: Performance Lab® Zinc

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Ren L., Pour M.D., Majdi S., Malmberg P., Ewing A.G. “Zinc Regulates Chemical-Transmitter Storage in Nanometer Vesicles and Exocytosis Dynamics as Measured by Amperometry.” Angewandte Chemie (International Edition in English) 2017 Apr 24;56(18):4970-4975. (source)

[ii] Brewer G.J., Kaur S. “Zinc Deficiency and Zinc Therapy Efficacy with Reduction of Serum Free Copper in Alzheimer’s Disease” International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2013; 2013: 586365. (source)

[iii] Giachi G. et. El. “Ingredients of a 2,000-y-old medicine revealed by chemical, mineralogical, and botanical investigations” Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  vol. 110 no. 4 > Gianna Giachi,  1193–1196 (source)

[iv] Prasad A.S., Mantzoros C.S., Beck F.W., Hess J.W., Brewer G.J. “Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults.” Nutrition. 1996 May;12(5):344-8. (source)

[v] Matthews J.M., Sunde M. “Zinc fingers–folds for many occasions.” IUBMB Life. 2002 Dec;54(6):351-5. (source)

[vi] Sutliff U. “Nutrition Key to Aggressive Behavior” USC News news.usc.edu November 16, 2004 retrieved September 21, 2017 (source)

[vii] Szewczyk B., Kubera M., Nowak G. “The role of zinc in neurodegenerative inflammatory pathways in depression.” Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 2011 Apr 29;35(3):693-701. (source)

[viii] Ranjbar E., Kasaei M.S., Mohammad-Shirazi M., Nasrollahzadeh J., Rashidkhani B., Shams J., Mostafavi S.A., Mohammadi M.R. “Effects of zinc supplementation in patients with major depression: a randomized clinical trial.” Iranian Journal of Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;8(2):73-9. (source)

[ix] Pan E., Zhang X.A., Huang Z., Krezel A., Zhao M., Tinberg C.E., Lippard S.J., McNamara J.O. “Vesicular zinc promotes presynaptic and inhibits postsynaptic long-term potentiation of mossy fiber-CA3 synapse.” Neuron. 2011 Sep 22;71(6):1116-26. (source)

[x] Mizuno M., Yamada K., He J., Nakajima A., Nabeshima T. “Involvement of BDNF receptor TrkB in spatial memory formation.” Learning and  Memory. 2003 Mar-Apr;10(2):108-15. (source)

[xi] Ren L., Pour M.D., Li X., Malmberg P. Ewing A.G. “Zinc Regulates Chemical-Transmitter Storage in Nanometer Vesicles and Exocytosis Dynamics as Measured by Amperometry.” Angewandte Chemie (International Edition in English). 2017 Apr 24;56(18):4970-4975 (source)

[xii] Tahmasebi Boroujeni S., Naghdi N., Shahbazi M., Farrokhi A., Bagherzadeh F., Kazemnejad A., Javadian M. “The effect of severe zinc deficiency and zinc supplement on spatial learning and memory.” Biological Trace Element Research. 2009 Jul;130(1):48-61. (source)

[xiii] Aquilani R., Baiardi P., Scocchi M., Iadarola P., Verri M., Sessarego P., Boschi F., Pasini E., Pastoris O., Viglio S. “Normalization of zinc intake enhances neurological retrieval of patients suffering from ischemic strokes.” Nutritional Neuroscience. 2009 Oct;12(5):219-25. (source)

[xiv] Cope E.C., Morris D.R., Scrimgeour A.G., Levenson C.W. “Use of zinc as a treatment for traumatic brain injury in the rat: effects on cognitive and behavioral outcomes.” Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2012 Sep;26(7):907-13. (source)

[xv] Singh M., Das R.R.” Zinc for the common cold.” Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2011 Feb 16;2:CD001364. (source)

[xvi] Szewczyk B., Kubera M., Nowak G. “The role of zinc in neurodegenerative inflammatory pathways in depression.” Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2011 Apr 29;35(3):693-701 (source)

[xvii] Sawada T., Yokoi K. “Effect of zinc supplementation on mood states in young women: a pilot study.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 Mar;64(3):331-3. (source)

[xviii] Solati Z., Jazayeri S., Tehrani-Doost M., Mahmoodianfard S., Gohari M.R. “Zinc monotherapy increases serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels and decreases depressive symptoms in overweight or obese subjects: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Nutritional Neuroscience. 2015 May;18(4):162-8 (source)

[xix] Kirby K., Floriani V., Bernstein H. “Diagnosis and management of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder in children.” Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 2001 Apr; 13(2):190-9. (source)

[xx] Bilici M., Yildirim F., Kandil S., Bekaroğlu M., Yildirmiş S., Değer O., Ulgen M., Yildiran A., Aksu H. “Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of zinc sulfate in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 2004 Jan;28(1):181-90. (source)

[xxi] Dodig-Curković K., Dovhanj J., Curković M., Dodig-Radić J., Degmecić D. “[The role of zinc in the treatment of hyperactivity disorder in children]. In Croatian Acta Medica Croatica. 2009 Oct;63(4):307-13. (source)

[xxii] Schanen N.C. “Epigenetics of autism spectrum disorders.” Human Molecular Genetics. 2006 Oct 15; 15 Spec No 2():R138-50. (source)

[xxiii] Russo A.J., DeVito R. “Analysis of Copper and Zinc Plasma Concentration and the Efficacy of Zinc Therapy in Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Autism” Biomarker Insights. 2011; 6: 127–133. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 158 comments

May 14, 2022

Hi David, I will start taking shilajit at 40% with fulvic and humid acid, I know this has zinc already, the question is, can I still take another suplement that has 20mg of zinc and 2mg of copper at same time or you think will be to much?

kind regards.

    David Tomen
    May 15, 2022

    Misael, I have not done the research on Shilajit so can’t comment on how much zinc it contains. But unless it’s a really high dose of zinc another 20 mg of zinc with copper should be OK.

April 25, 2022

hi david,

i have tried taking zinc a few times at doses around 25-30 mg and each time it makes me feel unwell: headaches, dizziness, wooziness. i always end up discontinuing it after a couple days. is this because i am not taking it with copper even though the neg effects happen immediately? or is it just a supplement i should avoid?

    David Tomen
    April 25, 2022

    Ilva, scroll up and read the Side Effects section of my zinc review. Either is is interacting with something else you are using or it may be the wrong mineral for you.

April 7, 2022

Hi David! My zinc is far over normal zinc reference. I don’t want to stop using my PL Multi. I also have copper under reference. What would you recommend?

Copper and zinc are antagonists right? Can I take additional 5mg chelated copper with every dose of PL men multi?

    April 7, 2022

    Also 1800mg of NAC per day should help me to lower my zinc levels right?

    Thank you David for everything!

      David Tomen
      April 7, 2022

      Michael, NAC is used to treat acetaminophen poisoning but it does not chelate zinc as far as I know.

    David Tomen
    April 7, 2022

    Michael, try 5 mg copper for a couple of weeks and see if it brings your copper levels into the healthy range. It will not bring zinc down. Because it works the other way around. Excess zinc suppresses copper.

    Apparently, if you drink milk it may help reduce your excess zinc: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28424261/

      April 8, 2022

      Thank you David! So I should take my PL multi with a glass of milk right?

        David Tomen
        April 8, 2022

        Michael, any healthy fat will do because of the fat-soluble ingredients in this multi.

March 16, 2022

Hi David,

I have a zinc picolinate supplement from science.bio, but it says 120mg per serving/dose. Any idea why it’s so much higher?

    David Tomen
    March 17, 2022

    Priscila, of you got it from Science.bio it is likely a tub of powder. And if that’s the case they got their dosage wrong.

February 25, 2022

Hi David!

Can a female take 45mg zinc sulphate daily, balanced with 2,5mg copper.

I take 1800mg NAC with only 15mg zinc picolinate so lately I found my depression for some reason is more pronouced.

Thank you!

    David Tomen
    February 25, 2022

    Sandra, it shouldn’t be a problem. But I would keep your copper dose no more than 2 mg.

February 22, 2022

Hello David, Do you think that tongkat ali is effective to increase testosterone? Would you personally use it or do you not think it is safe due to its contraindications?

    David Tomen
    February 22, 2022

    Carl, in this study, Tongkat Ali increased by 37%: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3669033/. And it is safe to use at high doses as long as it is a hot water extraction rather than alcohol extraction.

      February 23, 2022

      Thank you for answering David, I have one more question please,
      I asked Bulk Supplements about the percentage of Eurycomanone that his Tongkat Ali have, and What type of extraction does, and they replied:
      “Our Longjack Extract goes through a water extraction only.
      It is not standardized to the Eurycomanone content.
      It is an extract and it is standardized to an extract ratio of 100:1. ”,
      The question is, Do you think it is effective enough even though it is not standardized to the Eurycomanone?

        David Tomen
        February 24, 2022

        Carl, the best way to tell is read the user reviews. That should tell you whether it is effective or not.

December 27, 2021

Now I posted before on the NAC because I take NAC not sure if it lowers Zinc levels I also have IBS, I do eat eggs a few times a week that is meant to have Zinc but if I take 30MG of Zinc every few days with 2MG copper is that fine?

    David Tomen
    December 28, 2021

    Benjamin, I responded to your question under the NAC thread. But since you are a human male you should be supplementing with 30 mg zinc with 2 mg copper daily. Whether you are using NAC or not using it. Men need zinc for things like the synthesis of testosterone among several other functions that affect your brain.

      January 5, 2022

      What’s the daily limit with copper, do we get enough of that from our diets alone? would it hurt taking like 1MG daily? I also read that zinc should not exceed 11MG a day for men and now I have the wrong amount with 30MG Zinc glycinate now I’m a bit scared of taking it, that much in case it could cause an overdosage? what if my zinc levels are fine how would i know

        David Tomen
        January 5, 2022

        Benjamin, the regular adult Zinc dosage for men is 30 mg per day. But long-term use depletes copper levels. And we cannot assume we will replace that lost copper through diet alone. That is why you see Zinc supplements that include 1.5 mg or 2 mg copper to replace that lost copper.

deepak sadhwani
September 22, 2021

Hello, david

I am wondering, how much element zinc is safe to take daily ?

    David Tomen
    September 22, 2021

    Deepak, I would not use more than 50 mg zinc per day. Safer to keep it to 30 mg per day. But whichever dosage you use make sure you also include 1.5 mg copper.

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