Medically Reviewed on 3/3/2022

Generic Name: zinc

Brand and Other Names: Galzin, ZnCl2

Drug Class: Trace Elements/Metals

What is zinc, and what is it used for?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is required in minute quantities for human health. Zinc formulations are used to supplement natural zinc deficiency, and to treat common colds and Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes copper accumulation in the body, especially in the liver, brain, and the corneas of the eyes.

Zinc is a micronutrient that plays an important role in the maintenance of the senses of smell and taste and a healthy immune system, cell growth and division, wound healing, and breakdown of carbohydrates. Zinc is essential for normal growth and development during pregnancy and childhood. Zinc also enhances insulin function. Zinc prevents the absorption of copper in the intestinal tract and is used to prevent copper buildup in Wilson’s disease.

Zinc is available in dietary sources including red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, whole grains, dairy products, legumes, certain vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Uses of zinc formulations include the following:

  • Oral mineral supplement to meet the daily requirement
  • Supplementation for patients totally dependent on intravenous nutrition (total parenteral nutrition)
  • Common cold
  • Wilson’s disease


  • Do not take oral zinc supplements if you are hypersensitive to any of the components of zinc formulations.
  • Zinc intravenous solutions must not be directly infused into the vein but administered after admixing with the parenteral nutrition solution. Direct injection into the vein can cause vein inflammation and damage, and blood clot formation (thrombosis).
  • Zinc sulfate injection contains aluminum and may lead to aluminum toxicity.
  • Do not use zinc intranasally (product Zicam), there is a risk of permanent loss of the sense of smell.

What are the side effects of zinc?

Common side effects of zinc include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach irritation
  • Deterioration of neurological functions
  • Elevation in the levels of enzymes including alkaline phosphatase, lipase and amylase, which return to high normal within the first one or two years of zinc therapy
  • Copper deficiency
  • Hypersensitivity reactions

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the dosages of zinc?

Capsule (zinc gluconate)

  • 50mg

Capsule (zinc acatate)

  • 25mg
  • 50mg

Tablet (zinc gluconate)

  • 15mg
  • 30mg
  • 50mg
  • 100mg

Extended-release tablet (zinc gluconate)

  • 100mg

Lozenge (zinc gluconate)

  • 10mg
  • 13.3mg


  • 13.3mg

IV solution (zinc sulfate)

  • 1mg/mL
  • 5mg/mL

IV solution (zinc chloride)

  • 1mg/mL


Recommended daily allowances (RDA)

RDA expressed as elemental zinc

  • Males older than 14 years of age: 11 mg/day
  • Females older than 19 years of age: 8 mg/day
  • Pregnancy: (14-18 years of age) 12 mg/day
  • Pregnancy: (older than 19 years of age): 11 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding: (14-18 years of age) 13 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding: (older than 19 years of age) 12 mg/day
  • Upper Intake Level (UL): (14-18 years of age) 34 mg/day
  • UL: (older than 19 years of age): 40 mg/day

Common Cold

Dose expressed as elemental zinc

  • 4.5-23.7 mg zinc gluconate lozenge orally every 2 hours

Wilson’s Disease

Dose expressed as elemental zinc

  • Zinc acetate (Galzin): 50 mg orally three times daily
  • During pregnancy: 25 mg orally three times daily, may increase to 50 mg three times daily if inadequate response

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)

  • Acute catabolic state: 4.5-6 mg/day added to total parenteral nutrition intravenously if metabolically stable
  • Metabolically stable: 2.5 mg-4 mg/day, additional 12.2 mg per liter of small bowel fluid lost, or 17.1 mg per kilogram of stool or ileostomy recommended


  • Take Galzin capsules on empty stomach; swallow whole


Recommended daily allowances (RDA)

RDA expressed as elemental zinc

  • Infants 0-6 months: 2 mg/day
  • Infants 6-12 months: 3 mg/day
  • Children 1-3 years: 3 mg/day
  • Children 3-8 years: 5 mg/day
  • Children 8-13 years: 8 mg/day
  • Children 13-18 years: 11 mg/day

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)

  • Children above 5 years of age: 100 mcg/kg per day added to total parenteral nutrition intravenously
  • Premature infants (over 1500 g birth weight-3 kg): 300 mcg/kg per day added to TPN intravenously

Wilson’s Disease

Zinc acetate

  • Manufacturer's dosing
    • Children older than 10 years of age: 25 mg orally three times daily, may increase to 50 mg three times daily if inadequate response
  • American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) dosing
    • Children older than 5 years of age and under 50 kg: 25 mg orally three times daily
    • Children over 50 kg and adolescents: 50 mg orally three times daily


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer


  • There is no known antidote for zinc toxicity.
  • In case of zinc overdose, the unabsorbed zinc should be removed from the stomach by gastric lavage or induced vomiting.
  • Get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.

What drugs interact with zinc?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Zinc has no known severe, serious, moderate or mild interactions with any drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Use of zinc tablets and capsules in pregnancy is generally acceptable. Controlled studies in pregnant women show no evidence of fetal risk.
  • Zinc injection or zinc gluconate may be used with caution during pregnancy if benefits outweigh risks.
  • Zinc is excreted in breast milk and must be used with caution in nursing mothers.


Zinc is an essential trace mineral used to supplement natural zinc deficiency, and to treat common colds and Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder. Common side effects of zinc include nausea, vomiting, stomach irritation, deterioration of neurological functions, elevation in the levels of enzymes, copper deficiency, and hypersensitivity reactions. There are no known severe, serious, moderate, or mild drug interactions with zinc and other drugs. Zinc is generally considered safe during pregnancy and lactation. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/3/2022