Excessive intake of zinc impairs immune responses

JAMA. 1984 Sep 21;252(11):1443-6.


The effect of administration of large amounts of zinc on immune response and serum lipoproteins was examined. Eleven healthy adult men ingested 150 mg of elemental zinc twice a day for six weeks. This was associated with a reduction in lymphocyte stimulation response to phytohemagglutinin as well as chemotaxis and phagocytosis of bacteria by polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Serum high-density lipoprotein concentration decreased significantly and low-density lipoprotein level increased slightly. The common food fad of zinc supplementation with resultant excessive intake could have deleterious effects in healthy persons.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / adverse effects*
  • Zinc / blood


  • Cholesterol
  • Zinc