Why Does Zinc Make Me Nauseous? Causes & Relief

Why Does Zinc Make Me Nauseous

Zinc, an essential nutrient, is vital for several bodily processes, including immune support, wound healing, growth, and development, and it contributes to anti-aging. Its numerous health benefits have made zinc supplements increasingly sought after. Yet, some people experience an unpleasant reaction when taking zinc: nausea.

This article delves into the common factors that cause zinc-induced nausea, highlights the symptoms of zinc intolerance, and points out particular groups more prone to these issues. Notably, taking high doses of zinc supplements—exceeding the typical dosage range of 11 mg for adult males and 8 mg for adult females—ingesting zinc on an empty stomach, and potential interactions with other medications are the primary reasons for this discomfort.

Enhancing zinc absorption and easing digestion when taking zinc supplements involves mindful choices and practices. Optimal absorption is achieved by consuming zinc from bioavailable animal sources like oysters, red meat, and eggs and avoiding plant sources high in phytates. Gentle forms of zinc supplements, such as zinc picolinate and zinc citrate, are recommended for sensitive stomachs. Additionally, taking zinc with food can minimize digestive discomfort. For further relief from heartburn or indigestion, over-the-counter antacids may be used. Tailoring these strategies to individual needs and consulting a healthcare professional for persistent issues is essential.

You’re in the right place if you’re curious about why zinc might make you nauseous. Here, we’ll unravel these causes and offer practical solutions to mitigate zinc-induced nausea, allowing you to maintain your zinc intake without discomfort.

Key Takeaways:

  • Zinc can cause nausea in some individuals due to various factors such as high doses, zinc intolerance, or concurrent drug interactions.
  • Common factors contributing to zinc-induced nausea include taking high doses of zinc supplements, consuming zinc on an empty stomach, or taking zinc with medications that can interact with it.
  • Zinc intolerance can lead to symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and digestive issues.
  • Risk groups for experiencing zinc-induced nausea include pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease or malabsorption disorders.
  • To manage and prevent nausea from zinc supplements, try adjusting the dosage, taking zinc with food, or considering alternative forms of zinc that are gentler on the stomach.

Why Does Zinc Make Me Nauseous?

When it comes to zinc supplementation, one common concern that many people have is the possibility of experiencing nausea. Understanding the reasons behind this can help you find relief and manage your symptoms effectively. Several factors can contribute to zinc-induced nausea, including:

Common Factors Contributing to Zinc-Induced Nausea

1. High doses of zinc supplements: Taking high amounts of zinc can overwhelm your body’s ability to process it, leading to nausea and other digestive issues. When taking zinc supplements, it is essential to stick to the recommended dosage guidelines, typically 11 mg for adult males and 8 mg for adult females. With that said, those suffering from an illness are often recommended to supplement with zinc at high dosages (e.g., 50mg). This can be divided across the day and taken with meals.

2. Consuming zinc on an empty stomach: Taking zinc supplements without food can irritate the stomach lining, causing nausea and discomfort. Taking zinc with a meal or a snack is recommended to minimize stomach upset.

3. Interactions with other medications: Some can interact with zinc, causing stomach upset and nausea. If you are taking other medicines, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure no potential interactions.

Zinc Intolerance Symptoms and Risk Groups

While zinc is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may have a zinc intolerance, which means their bodies struggle to process and tolerate zinc. This can result in nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and digestive issues. Specific risk groups may be more susceptible to zinc-induced sickness, including:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • Individuals with Crohn’s disease or malabsorption disorders

These individuals may have unique physiological characteristics that make them more prone to experiencing nausea from zinc intake.

Understanding the common factors contributing to zinc-induced nausea and being aware of the risk groups can help you make informed decisions about your zinc supplementation and minimize the risk of experiencing nausea as a side effect.

Zinc-induced nausea

Managing and Preventing Nausea from Zinc Supplements

If you experience nausea from zinc supplements, there are several strategies you can try to manage and prevent it. One approach is to adjust the dosage and timing of your zinc intake. Start with a lower dose and gradually increase it while taking zinc with food to minimize stomach upset.

It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist before adjusting your zinc intake or dosage to ensure you are staying within safe limits.

Other techniques that may help relieve zinc-related nausea include:

1. Taking zinc with certain foods or beverages is known to ease digestion

  • To enhance zinc absorption from supplements or food, it’s beneficial to understand how zinc interacts with other substances. Zinc from animal sources like oysters, red meat, and eggs is more bioavailable than plant sources like legumes, whole-grain breads, and cereals, which contain phytates inhibiting zinc absorption. When taking zinc supplements, consuming them with food is recommended to facilitate absorption. Additionally, zinc supplements can interact with iron and calcium supplements, so taking them at different times of the day is advisable. For optimal zinc absorption, being mindful of these dietary factors is crucial.​
managing nausea from zinc supplements

2. Choosing zinc supplements with different forms that are more gentle on the stomach

  • When choosing a gentle zinc supplement on the stomach, consider forms like zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc glycerate, and zinc monomethionine. These are known to be more easily absorbed and may be less likely to cause stomach upset than zinc sulfate, which is less readily absorbed and could cause stomach irritation. It’s important to remember that zinc should be taken with water or juice, and if it causes stomach upset, it can be taken with meals.

3. Using over-the-counter antacids or digestive aids when necessary

  • Over-the-counter antacids are commonly used to relieve heartburn and indigestion by reducing stomach acid. They come in two forms: liquid and chewable tablets, with liquid antacids acting more quickly. Antacid ingredients include aluminum, calcium, magnesium, and salts like sodium bicarbonate. Popular brands are Tums, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, and Rolaids.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage and alleviate the nausea associated with zinc supplements. However, it’s crucial to remember that everyone’s body reacts differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you continue to experience severe or persistent nausea, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and alternative solutions.


In conclusion, while zinc is an essential nutrient that supports various bodily processes, it can sometimes cause nausea in specific individuals. This nausea can be triggered by factors such as taking high doses of zinc supplements, consuming zinc on an empty stomach, or potential interactions with other medications. Moreover, some groups, including pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with conditions like Crohn’s disease or malabsorption disorders, may be more prone to zinc-induced nausea.

It is recommended to adjust the dosage and timing of zinc intake to manage and prevent nausea from zinc supplements, preferably taking zinc with food to minimize stomach upset. Opting for zinc supplements in forms that are gentler on the stomach, such as zinc picolinate or zinc citrate, can also be beneficial. Additionally, over-the-counter antacids or digestive aids may relieve heartburn or indigestion associated with zinc supplementation.

It’s essential to enhance zinc absorption by consuming bioavailable animal sources and being mindful of dietary factors that could inhibit zinc absorption. However, individual responses to zinc supplements can vary, so if nausea persists or becomes severe, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial. By understanding the factors contributing to zinc-induced sickness and employing these strategies, individuals can effectively manage their symptoms and continue to benefit from zinc supplementation without discomfort.

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