You’ve taken that trusty zinc tablet, all in the name of health. Yet, moments later, your stomach feels like it’s performing acrobatics without your permission. And there you are, with a puzzling expression, “Can it be the mineral of marvel zinc? But why does zinc make me nauseous?”
Zinc can cause nausea and vomiting when taken in high doses, on an empty stomach, or in the wrong form. The triggering factor behind these reasons can be a strong metallic taste and stomach irritation. Zinc-induced nausea usually happens within 30 minutes of taking the medicine, but it is temporary.
But there’s more to the story. Let’s delve into the art and science of zinc and nausea!
Does Zinc Make You Nauseous?
Zinc supplements are generally well-tolerated. It is an essential mineral your body needs for normal functions, including-
- fighting off infections
- reducing inflammation
- speeding up wound healing
- producing cells
- Helping synthesize proteins and DNA
- Maintaining your sense of taste and smell
- Maintaining testosterone level.
Can zinc make you hard and horny?
However, they may cause some adverse side effects in some people. Nausea is one of them.
A review of 17 studies in 2012 found that nausea was the most common adverse effect of zinc lozenges for treating the common cold.
But what is making you sick? Why are you nauseous after taking zinc?
Let’s find out.
Why Does Zinc Make Me Nauseous: The 3 Reasons
Zinc can make you nauseous for 3 reasons.
Too Much Zinc
Zinc toxicity or excess zinc can cause nausea and vomiting for several reasons –
- It may cause irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining
- It may disrupt the normal balance of gastric acid and enzymes
- It may impact the gut microbiota and immune system
- It may interfere with absorbing and metabolizing other nutrients, such as copper and iron.
An Empty Stomach
Taking zinc supplements on an empty stomach can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Zinc can irritate the stomach lining, react with stomach acid, and produce hydrogen gas, which can cause bloating and discomfort.
You should also avoid taking zinc supplements with other minerals that can interfere with its absorption. It may make you nauseous or dizzy. These supplements include-
Check the synergy between zinc and selenium.
The Wrong Form
Do you know the type or form of zinc can sometimes make you nauseous?
Now, zinc comes in various forms. Different forms of zinc have varying levels of bioavailability, which determines how well your body can absorb and use them.
Some types of zinc are more bioavailable than others, meaning they can deliver higher amounts of zinc to your cells and tissues. However, certain forms of zinc are less bioavailable, such as
- Zinc sulfate
- Zinc acetate
- Zinc oxide.
Taking these forms may also cause nausea for being more acidic, poorly absorbed, or irritating to the stomach.
How Long Does Nausea From Zinc Last?
Usually, nausea from zinc lasts for a few hours to a few days. However, the duration of nausea from zinc depends on the cause and the amount of zinc you consume.
The table below shows how different causes of zinc-related nausea have different symptoms and durations.
|Large amounts of zinc sulfate
|A few days
|Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
|Zinc oxide fume inhalation
|12-24 hours in a zinc-free environment
|Fever, fatigue, metallic taste, dyspnea, myalgias
|Zinc overdose (from any source)
|Until zinc intake is stopped
How Quickly Can Zinc Make You Nauseous?
Zinc can make you nauseous based on different factors.
|Very high dose of zinc (>570 mg)
|Within 30 minutes
|Zinc toxicity from any source
|Within minutes to hours
|Wrong form of zinc (sulfate, acetate, oxide)
|Faster than bioavailable forms (picolinate, citrate, gluconate)
|Zinc on an empty stomach or without water
|Faster than zinc with food or water
What To Do If Zinc Makes You Nauseous?
If you feel nauseous after taking zinc, try some home remedies.
- Stop taking zinc until symptoms subside.
- Drink ginger tea or water.
- Avoid spicy, greasy, or acidic foods.
- Eat easily digestible foods, such as oatmeal, crackers, or toast.
- You can also drink clear liquids like herbal teas, sports drinks, or electrolyte solutions.
- Take antacids or anti-nausea medications.
- Avoid strenuous activities.
- Avoid lying down immediately after taking zinc.
If you experience severe and persistent nausea with other symptoms like blood in vomit, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, it may be a sign of zinc poisoning. Seek medical attention immediately, as it can be life-threatening if left untreated.
How to Prevent Zinc Nausea?
Here are some tips on preventing zinc nausea and enjoying this mineral’s benefits without discomfort.
Take The Right Dose
Stick to the recommended dose when taking zinc supplements. The upper limit of zinc intake for adults is 40 mg/day, and for infants under 6 months is 4 mg/day. Taking too much zinc can lead to some unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fever.
According to the National Institutes of Health, here is a table with the recommended daily zinc intake for different age groups.
|14–18 years, male
|14–18 years, female
|19+ years, male
|19+ years, female
|Pregnant, <18 years
|Pregnant, 19+ years
|Lactating, <18 years
|Lactating, 19+ years
Take The Suitable Form
Zinc supplements come in different forms and amounts. Look for the most bioavailable and least irritating form, such as zinc bis-glycinate or zinc picolinate.
Also, choose easily absorbed and nausea-free zinc supplements. Avoid unnecessary ingredients, such as binders, fillers, coatings, or additives that can reduce bioavailability or cause allergic reactions or digestive issues.
Take Zinc With Foods
To avoid feeling nauseous after taking zinc, take it with a meal or snack that contains some fat, like cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds, or avocado. It helps to buffer the zinc and slow down its absorption. Additionally, drinking plenty of water while taking zinc can help dilute it and prevent any irritation to the stomach lining.
Split The Dose
Splitting supplement intake throughout the day is better to avoid overwhelming the digestive system. Zinc, for example, can cause nausea and vomiting if taken in a large dose. To prevent this, divide the dose into smaller amounts and take them at different times.
Avoid Mixing With Other Supplements
Zinc can compete with other minerals like copper, iron, calcium, and magnesium for absorption in the intestines. Combining them can reduce the availability of both minerals, leading to deficiencies or imbalances. So, taking zinc supplements at least two hours apart from other mineral supplements or mineral-rich foods is best.
Consult A Doctor
Zinc supplements can have negative interactions with medications and health conditions. It can affect blood sugar levels, blood pressure, clotting, and fetal/infant development. Consult a doctor before taking zinc supplements if you have any medical conditions or are pregnant/breastfeeding.
What Is Most Common Side Effects Of Zinc?
Besides nausea, some of the most common side effects of zinc are:
- stomach pain
- Loss of smell or taste.
Check if zinc is good for PCOS.
What Vitamins Make You Nauseous?
Some vitamins that can cause nausea are-
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Should I stop taking zinc if it makes me nauseous?
If you experience nausea or any other unpleasant symptoms while taking zinc supplements, stop taking them and consult with your doctor immediately. Stopping the supplement may help reduce the dizziness.
Is throwing up after taking zinc on empty stomach normal?
Zinc can cause nausea, heartburn, and vomiting when taken on an empty stomach, especially in excessive amounts or if you’re sensitive to it. To avoid this, take zinc with food or water, preferably with some fat, to aid absorption and reduce irritation.
Why does zinc make me nauseous – are you still pondering the question? You may encounter nausea if you take too much zinc, less-bioavailable form, or take it on an empty stomach. However, you can prevent it by taking the correct dose, in the right form, and with the right foods.
For more on supplementation, read our blogs.
I am a health and wellness enthusiast working in a Pittsburgh-based wellness clinic. My primary role as a consultant is to tailor a balanced lifestyle for my patients, where positive steps and potent supplements play a synergistic role.