How Much Zinc Is Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

As soon as they remain pregnant, women usually pay a lot more attention to their daily diet, because the fetus requires a well balanced nutrition to develop in a healthy way. An important element while pregnant is zinc for a healthy embryo development.

Can I Take Zinc While Pregnant

Role of Zinc during Pregnancy

Zinc is a mineral with an essential role in strengthening the organism`s immune system. As immunity has the tendency to become weaker during pregnancy, it`s crucial to strengthen by all means necessary the resistance of the organism against infections.

Vitamin A depends on the action of zinc to carry out its normal activity. Zinc regulates the levels of vitamin A and the amount in which this is released by the liver. This particular mineral also influences the growth and development on other ways as well. Both pituitary-follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and pituitary luteinizing hormone (LH) influenced by the zinc`s action, are important for the normal functioning of the testicles and spermatogenesis. Zinc helps maintain the good status of the prostate and prevents benign prostatic hypertrophy.

The pancreas is another gland which uses zinc. It enters the insulin composition and is excreted in the pancreatic secretions. The metabolism is also partially dependent by the presence of zinc that helps in the transformation of thyroxine in triodothyronine. Additionally, 3 out of 5 analyzers wouldn`t function in the absence of a proper amount of zinc in the organism – visual, olfactory and gustative analyzers.

Some studies support the theory according to which there would be a connection between the integrity of the immune system and the amount of zinc in the organism. This specific mineral helps in regulating the level of T lymphocytes, CD4 lymphocytes and interleukin-2. This particular role in the immune system offers zinc the ability of facilitating wound healing. Other studies have shown that the changes of the zinc`s level in the organism can change apoptosis, presently known as “programmed cell death.” Also, it was proven that zinc has anti-inflammatory properties. Still, to define the zinc`s role in the immune system, more studies are necessary in the future.

Apoptosis is considered an innate, evolutionally conserved process by which cells inactivate, disassemble and degrade their very own functional and structural components to complete their very own death in a systematic way. This particular process can be activated intracellularly through a development program defined genetically, or extracellularly, via endogenous hormones, proteins and cytokines, as well as radiation, hypoxia, xenobiotic components and oxidative stress.

A cell`s ability to enter apoptosis in response to a “death” signal generally depends on cell cycle position, proliferative status and controlled expression of genes which promote, inhibit and affect the death program. Strict regulation of these modulating death parameters should be maintained to ensure the physiological context conducive to the apoptosis`s occurrence. Dysfunctions, happening at any of the points of the scheduled death path, might lead to an erroneous apoptotic process, therefore leading to the expression of pathophysiological conditions.

How Much Zinc Should I Take a Day?

A well balanced diet that is based on the recommendations of experts may prevent the installation of a zinc-deficient syndrome. The organism`s zinc necessities usually depends on age, gender and other factors that influence the metabolic and nutritional status (pregnancy, lactation, physiological conditions that increase the zinc requirements). The daily minimum dose will vary as it follows:

  • Newborns: 0-6 months: 2 mcg/day.
  • 7 and 12 months: 3 mcg /day.
  • Children: 1 and 3 years: 3 mcg /day.
  • 4 and 8 years: 5 mcg /day.
  • 9 and 14 years: 8 mcg /day.
  • Girls 14-18 years: 9 mcg /day.
  • 19+ years: 8 mcg /day.
  • Boys 14+ years: 11 mcg /day.

What Happens If You Take Too Much Zinc?

Around 70% of the zinc obtained from food comes from animal sources. Eggs, meat, seafood (especially oysters), liver and enriched cereals consist real zinc sources. Since lots of vegan diets don`t contain these particular foods, in vegans, usually the absorption of zinc is produced more slowly. It`s estimated that vegans need twice as much zinc than those who consume non-vegan foods.

Diets rich in fibers contain an increased amount of phytate, which may decrease the absorption of zinc in the digestive tract. People who follow a high protein diet or low calorie content may also need more zinc.

Phytates are usually present in foods rich in fibers. Lab research has confirmed the fact that phytates block the development of cancer in the large intestine, and of breast cancer in the primary stages. Phytic acid is a substance that influences the level of absorption of various metals. Phytic acid forms salts with the metals taken from foods. Alkaline filaments are soluble, and Ca, Mg, Fe, Cu, Zn, Pb are insoluble even at very acidic pH.

Consequently, an excess of phytic acid will produce a deficiency of bivalent metals with a crucial physiological role, like Mg or Ca. A plasma concentration below 98 mcg/dL constitutes a zinc deficiency, which has been associated with a slow healing of wounds, birth defects, loss of appetite, retardation and malformations of the immune system.

Zinc Deficiency during Pregnancy

Zinc deficiency occurs when its concentration in the organism falls below normal limits. Women who are pregnant and experience zinc deficiency risk giving birth to babies with intrauterine growth retardation and low birth weight, as zinc is very important for the fetal development the entire pregnancy.

Zinc deficiency during early pregnancy may lead to severe complications, which include miscarriage. Because of this, it`s very important when you find out you`re pregnant to do all the required analyzes and start taking prenatal vitamins that your doctor will recommend. Most prenatal vitamins include optimal doses of zinc, so pregnant women can no longer worry about the risks of zinc in the human organism.

Foods that Are Rich in Zinc

Feeding remains the main source from which you can get your zinc during pregnancy. If you eat well and pay attention to add as many foods rich in zinc as you can in your menu, you may get the full daily dose that is recommended in your diet without needing supplements.

Here are some of the foods that contain a high content of zinc:

Zinc food source Zinc miligrams
3/4 cup zinc fortified cereals 15
90 g roast beef 8.9
90 g pork roast 4.2
1 chicken breast 2.7
1 cup of yoghurt 2.2
1/2 cup bean beans 1.8
30 g of oleaginous fruit mix 1.1
30 g of cheese 1.1
1 cup of milk 9
100 g wheat germ 16.7
100 g spinach 0.8
100 g of dark chocolate 6,8
100 g mushrooms 0,9


Note: There are women who agree to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy that include zinc and women who are against them because they gain weight or experience other side effects.

Interactions with other Medicines

Pharmacists whose patients are given zinc supplements should know some interactions that minerals might have with other medicines.

The administration of zinc should be done separately from the iron administration at least 2 hours apart. The interaction between these 2 types of supplements is less pronounced if they are administered before or after one of the meals.

Other 3 supplements interact directly with zinc. The info gained from many studies supports the following interactions: zinc-copper, zinc-calcium and zinc-folic acid. Metallionine is a protein which blocks copper systematic absorption. Zinc stimulates intestinal production of metallothionein, which in turn interferes with the bioavailability of copper. However, the contradictory results of some of the studies started raise an issue: how really does calcium interfere with zinc absorption?

The absorption of zinc seems to be reduced when calcium is combined with phytic acid. Additionally, a zinc-based enzyme helps control the bioavailability of folate, which would imply a possible interaction between zinc and folic acid. If past studies have shown that a low intake of zinc reduces folate absorption and that zinc use is depleted by supplements containing folic acid, a recent study fights this theory.

Zinc salts also appear to interact with fluoroquinolone and tetracyclines. Concomitant administration of zinc supplements with oral fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines forms insoluble chelates and interferes with their absorption. Zinc supplements should be given at least 6 hours before or 2 hours after the the fluoroquinolone and tetracycline administration.

Therapeutic Indications of Zinc

There are some patients who accused hyposomia and anosmia when they were given the zinc gluconate spray; some of these cases seem to be permanent. It`s assumed that the mechanism of odor loss is due to a toxic effect caused by Zn2 + when it comes to direct contact with the olfactory epithelium. Zinc treatment for pregnant women or women who breastfeed and who have signs of cold hasn`t yet been studied.

Healing the Lesions

It`s known that zinc deficiency affects the healing process of wounds and prolongs the time of scarring of the tissues. A few studies have shown that zinc facilitates the healing of wounds, but also postoperative injuries, lower limb ulcers, etc.

Oral treatments shorten healing time. One study showed that patients given oral zinc sulphate supplements healed in 45.8 days, compared with 80.1 days, during which the placebo group was cured. A different study investigated the use of zinc in topical use in the treatment of post-incision wounds.

The result showed that 73% of patients who received zinc administration have reduced the size of the wounds compared with 42% of those in the placebo group. Oral zinc sulphate was also compared to placebo to determine its effect on healing superficial and serious wounds from burns. The healing time for superficial burns was lower by 21% compared to placebo and by 19% for severe burns.

Immune System

A state of immune deficiency and a low resistance to infection have been linked to zinc deficiencies. Although the understanding of the role of zinc in the immune system has increased, the exact mechanism which helps prevent as well as treat infectious illnesses isn`t known. A few studies have shown a positive effect in patients suffering from pneumonia when receive zinc supplements.

Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to several studies conducted a few years ago, it`s believed that zinc deficiency could play an important in the pathophysiology of attention deficit disorder. Although it`s too soon to conclude that zinc would be beneficial in treating deficit hyperactivity disorder, this still seems promising. Until further studies in this direction, pharmacists may recommend appropriate dietary supplements as well as multivitamin and mineral supplements to children who suffer from ADHD.

Image courtesy of slideshare.net

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