Side Effects from Taking Zinc and Magnesium Range from Discomfort to More Serious Effects

Page content

Benefits of Zinc and Magnesium

Both zinc and magnesium are essential minerals, required for hundreds of vital life functions. Zinc allows your body’s immune function to work properly, providing support for your thymus gland and white blood cells. In a related capacity, it also helps your body heal properly from wounds. A 2011 study published in Cochrane Reviews found evidence that zinc may also help reduce the severity of cold symptoms.

Zinc is a trace mineral, so its recommended daily amount of 15mg or men and 12 mg for women may seem quite low when compared to other minerals.

Magnesium plays a major role in nerve and muscle function, essential for over 300 body processes. It helps your body metabolize food so that you have energy to carry out your everyday tasks. Its support of metabolism continues in its support of insulin production and use by your body. It is essential for bone formation as well as heartbeat regulation.

Side Effects of Taking Zinc and Magnesium

Generally, both minerals are safe to take. In fact, you may find supplements which include both along with calcium as a combination supplement to support good bone and teeth formation as well as prevent osteoporosis.

Even though both minerals are needed by your body, the potential for side effects of taking zinc and magnesium exist. You should always take either supplement with food to avoid stomach upset. Cramping can be quite uncomfortable should you take either on an empty stomach.

Other side effects from taking zinc and magnesium concern possible interactions with other supplements or medications that you may be taking. Zinc may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb copper and iron, minerals needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin. Avoid taking these supplements together, if possible. Another possible side effect concerns absorption of antibiotics.

Likewise, either supplement may have other negative effects. Both zinc and magnesium may reduce the effectiveness of certain antibiotics such as tetracycline. If you do take a supplement, as with iron, avoid taking the two at the same time. Wait a few hours after taking your antibiotics to give your body plenty of time to absorb the medication.

Taking Too Much

Other side effects from taking zinc and magnesium concern taking too much of either supplement. Overdosing on either one will cause stomach upset and nausea. You may also experience bouts of diarrhea.

In high doses, zinc supplements can undo the benefits they provide by reducing the functioning of your immune system. It can also lead to other complications such as lowering “good” cholesterol levels. Good cholesterol or HDL helps your body rid itself of dietary cholesterol. Reduced HDL levels can lead to more serious complications such as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

While overdosing on magnesium is uncommon, you are well advised to stay within the recommended dosage. If you are pregnant and taking calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, you should consult your doctor before taking magnesium as it may increase the potential for negative side effects of these drugs.

With any nutritional supplement whether it be a mineral or an herb, talk with your doctor first about possible side effects and drug interactions. Taking something good for you should never be bad.


Sherwood, Lauralee. Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems. 2008

M. Singh and R. Das. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Reviews, February 2011; DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3.

University of Maryland Medical Center: