Zinc: Safe during pregnancy?
I have gotten into the habit of sucking on zinc lozenges every time someone in my family has a cold. Is zinc safe to take during pregnancy?Question:
Zinc is a critical nutrient to have during pregnancy. It is involved in many important functions. To begin with, even before pregnancy, it is necessary for the formation of sperm (make sure your husband gets plenty!), ovum, ovulation and fertilization. Marginal deficiencies can result in spontaneous abortion, pregnancy-related toxemia, premature or extended delivery and prolonged labor. Certain birth defects are related to minor zinc deficiencies. Zinc is integral to all phases of growth of the fetus; it stabilizes the genetic code in each cell so that growth goes as planned, is a component of insulin, thus helping to regulate the glucose needed by baby; and much more.
The daily requirement for zinc during pregnancy is 15 milligrams. Your supplement is therefore, giving you all that you need for pregnancy requirements. Too much zinc can actually backfire on you. When you suck on zinc lozenges and decrease your incidence of colds, you are experiencing the action of a little extra zinc enhancing the immune system. Too much zinc (over time) can actually suppress immunity. Regular ingestion of more than 50 mg of zinc can also cause interference with the absorption of other nutrients, causing secondary deficiencies. Copper is one such mineral whose absorption is depressed with too much zinc. Although zinc has a low toxicity for humans, The National Academy of Science actually warns against zinc supplements of more than 15 mg daily without medical supervision. Your prenatal supplement falls under that category, and so is okay. The problem with too much zinc comes from a continued ingestion of excessive doses. The extra zinc that you take should not be a problem, however, because you are not taking it on a daily, or even weekly basis. Nonetheless, the additional 26 mg you get from two zinc lozenges should be cleared with a quick phone call to your doctor.
In light of the current advice to women to take plenty of folate during prepregnancy and early pregnancy, it is important to know that high supplements of folate can block intestinal absorption of zinc, creating a potentially dangerous deficiency. To avoid such a problem, limit your intake of folate to not more than 800 mg. Because of this potential interference, it may be absolutely fine, if not advisable to get a little extra zinc. A couple of zinc lozenges of 13 mg/each, two times a day, plus the 25 mg in your supplement give you a potential total of 51 mg in a day. So long as this is only a once-in-a-while occurrence, it seems like a safe practice, but again, you should speak with your doctor to be sure.
Pregnancy involves a lot of risk/benefit analysis and a lot of thinking that you didn't have to do before. A couple of zinc tablets every now and then to ward off a cold may be a good idea if it means you will be able to avoid several days of feeling lousy, then having to make decisions about which cold medicines you may or may not take, or if you want to take any medication for that sore throat, etc. Plus it may leave you feeling better so you can eat and drink better, get the exercise you need and that important sleep. The additional zinc should not cause the difficulties of secondary deficiencies or depressed immunity if it is not a daily practice. You are wise to ask the question, and would be even wiser to double-check with your doctor.
You can also help to boost your immunity with foods. Six ounces of yogurt a day is proven to boost immunity if eaten daily. Other foods that may stimulate immunity include garlic and foods rich in beta carotene.Answer: