Medications That Could Have Negative Interactions With Zinc

Zinc is an important nutrient that helps our bodies in a number of ways, and if you've ever had a cold, you've probably heard its benefits touted alongside vitamin C. That being said, should everyone be taking a zinc supplement?

We need zinc for a multitude of essential functions, according to Healthline. It's present in every single cell of the body and it's our second most abundant trace mineral, only behind iron. Zinc is necessary for gene expression, immune function, healing wounds, protein and DNA synthesis, enzymatic reactions, and other growth and development.

Since our bodies don't create or store zinc naturally, we have to get it through food and supplements (via Healthline). Luckily, it's found in many plant and animal foods. The foods highest in zinc include shellfish like oysters and clams, other fish, meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and eggs. It's most easily absorbed from animal products, as plant products contain a compound that gets in the way of absorption.

Drug interactions to watch out for while taking zinc

While zinc is an important nutrient, there are some medications that may negatively interact with it (via WebMD). Quinolone and tetracycline antibiotics have moderate interactions with zinc, meaning that zinc may interfere with how well the body absorbs the medication. These antibiotics may not work as well when taken with zinc supplements — it's recommended to take them at least two hours before or four-to-six hours after zinc. Zinc supplements can also have a moderate interaction with ​​penicillamine, which is a drug used to treat Wilson's disease and cystinuria (via Medline Plus). Zinc can make this drug less effective as well.

Cephalexin, a drug used to treat infections, and ritonavir, a drug used for HIV infection, can also become less effective when taken with zinc supplements (via WebMD). More minor interactions include amiloride, a type of diuretic, and atazanavir, another drug used to treat an HIV infection. However, these interactions are usually not a large concern.