Dietary vs. pharmacological doses of zinc: A clinical review

Clin Nutr. 2020 May;39(5):1345-1353. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2019.06.024. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Zinc deficiency has a global impact on health in both developing and developed countries, especially among children and the elderly. By modulating anti-inflammatory and antioxidant pathways, zinc supplementation is recommended for the treatment of several ailments, such as liver disease, male hypogonadism, cancers, heart disease (e.g. dyslipidemia) and central nervous system disorders; however, the topic of dietary vs. pharmacological doses of zinc remains controversial. This paper provides a detailed critical review of the effects of zinc supplementation in medicinal doses (i.e. >40 mg/d of elemental zinc) on human health. We further highlight the difficulty in achieving a therapeutic dose of zinc from foodstuffs.

Keywords: Antioxidant supplements; Hypogonadism; Immunonutrition; ZMA; Zinc supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review