Toxic effects associated with consumption of zinc

Mayo Clin Proc. 2002 Jul;77(7):713-6. doi: 10.4065/77.7.713.


A 27-year-old man with a history of acne presented to his primary care physician because of fatigue and dyspnea on exertion of 4 weeks' duration. He was remarkably pale, orthostatic pulse changes were noted, and a systolic ejection murmur was heard. The patient had profound anemia (hemoglobin concentration, 5.0 g/dL) and neutropenia (neutrophil count, 0.06 x 10(9)/L); he was admitted for further evaluation. A detailed inquiry into his medication history revealed that he was taking several vitamins and zinc gluconate, 850 to 1000 mg/d for 1 year (US recommended daily allowance, 15 mg), as therapy for acne. A zinc toxic and copper-deficient state was confirmed by laboratory studies. The patient was treated with intravenous copper sulfate, followed by 3 months of oral therapy. The complete blood cell count, serum copper level, and serum zinc level returned to normal.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / blood
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / chemically induced*
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / complications
  • Copper / deficiency*
  • Copper Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neutropenia / blood
  • Neutropenia / chemically induced*
  • Neutropenia / complications
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc / adverse effects*


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Copper Sulfate