The Dark Side of Zinc: How Too Much Can Impact Your Hair

The video discusses the importance of zinc for hair health and the potential negative effects of both zinc deficiency and excess. Zinc is essential for hair follicle growth, collagen and keratin production, and the regulation of hair growth phases. Taking excessive amounts of zinc can lead to a copper deficiency, which also affects hair growth and color. The recommended upper tolerance for zinc intake is around 40 milligrams per day for adults, but higher amounts may be necessary in certain circumstances such as autoimmune diseases or inflammation of the gut. It is important to maintain a 10 to 1 ratio of zinc to copper intake to prevent any negative side effects.

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Key Insights:

  • Zinc is a vital trace mineral for hair health.
  • An imbalance of zinc, either too much or too little, can lead to hair problems.
  • Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymes related to the immune system, testosterone, smell, taste, vision, reproduction, and skin health.
  • The growth of hair follicles depends on zinc.
  • Zinc is necessary for collagen and keratin production, which contribute to hair strength and elasticity.
  • Zinc deficiency can lead to thin and brittle hair.
  • Zinc is required for the enzyme Alp, which controls different phases of hair growth and provides energy to the hair follicle.
  • Excessive zinc intake can result in copper deficiency, affecting hair growth and color maintenance.
  • Copper is involved in the structural integrity of hair.
  • The upper tolerance level for zinc intake is around 40 milligrams per day for adults.
  • Higher zinc intake may be necessary for certain conditions such as autoimmune diseases, infections, or gut inflammation.
  • Zinc absorption can be affected by factors like inflammation, stress, high-carb diets, phytic acid, estrogen dominance, and low stomach acid.
  • The recommended ratio of zinc to copper is about 10 to 1.
  • Zinc deficiency is prevalent, affecting around 1.1 billion people worldwide.
  • Ensuring adequate zinc intake and addressing absorption obstacles can help support hair health.


There’s a dark side of zinc relating to your hair that we need to talk about. Now, since zinc is probably one of the most important trace minerals for your hair, you need to know that too much zinc can cause the same exact problem with your hair as not enough zinc. So, zinc being a trace mineral, is involved in over 300 different enzymes relating to your immune system, testosterone, sense of smell, taste, vision, reproduction, and skin health. I mean, it’s involved in almost every part of your immune system. But I want to touch on the relationship between zinc and your hair because a lot of people are taking way too much zinc and that could be the reason why things get worse.

So, the reason why you might lose your hair when you don’t have enough zinc is that zinc is needed to support the growth of the hair follicle. Now, what is the hair follicle? It’s not the actual hair, it’s the pore or shaft that the hair grows out of and it’s just beneath your scalp. And so the growth of that follicle is dependent on zinc, and if you don’t have zinc, you’re not going to have follicles for the hair to grow out of. Zinc is also needed for collagen and keratin, two types of protein that allow the hair to be strong and elastic. So if you’re deficient in zinc, you’re going to have thin hair and brittle hair because it’s not going to be elastic.

Also, zinc is needed to make this enzyme called Alp, I’m not going to get into the name of it, it’s not important, but Alp is involved in three different pathways that control the different phases of hair growth. So for example, if you have one of the phases of hair being a little too short or not even existing at all because you don’t have enough zinc, you’re going to have hair loss just from that enzyme. And on top of that, that enzyme is also responsible for feeding the hair follicle energy so it can actually work correctly. And so, as you can see, zinc is really, really important. Your hair depends on it.

Now, let’s talk about the amounts of zinc that you need. But first, let’s just talk about what happens when you get too much zinc and what those numbers are. When you get too much zinc, you actually create a copper deficiency in the body because zinc and copper work together like a teeter-totter, just like calcium and magnesium. But the more zinc that you take, the more copper you’re going to need. And if you’re taking zinc without copper, that’s when you can create problems.

But copper itself is involved in hair growth as well. Copper maintains the color of your hair, so if you have to color your hair very often, chances are you could be missing copper. Copper also helps the structural integrity of the hair, so this could actually show up as thinning hair, brittle hair, or even hair loss. Copper is the co-factor or helper molecule in different enzymes that relate to the growth and maintenance of your hair. So, copper will help prevent hair loss, prevent hair thinning, and it will support the follicle, that shaft of the hair. So when you think of zinc toxicity, think of a copper deficiency.

The upper tolerance, the amount of zinc that you can take without any side effects, is roughly about 40 milligrams per day, and this is for adults. And you’re not going to have any bad effects from that. Just so you know, the bad effects would be feeling nauseous, you might have vomiting, decreased appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. But here’s the thing you need to know. In certain circumstances, you need to take high amounts of zinc, like if you have an autoimmune disease, or you get an infection, or you have inflammation of the gut which prevents the absorption of zinc because most of the absorption happens in the small intestine.

Just so you know, when you eat food that’s high in zinc, like whether you’re eating oysters, any meats, shellfish, seaweed, or cheese, you only absorb 20 to 40 percent of the zinc from those foods. But if you have inflammation in your gut, it’s going to be less than that. Now, on top of that, there are other things that decrease the absorption of zinc, like stress, a high carb diet, and phytic acid. Now, what is phytic acid? That’s an anti-nutrient in grains that prevents the absorption of zinc and other minerals. And then another thing is if you’re estrogen dominant, let’s say you’re taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy as estrogen or progesterone, you can block the absorption of zinc. And then you also have your stomach acid. If your stomach acid is not strong enough, you’re not going to absorb zinc. So in those situations, you have to take more.

And in some videos, I even recommend taking 200 or even 250 milligrams of zinc short-term to overcome a certain health problem, whether it’s autoimmune or inflammation or whatever. But the key is making sure you take enough copper to prevent any side effects at all. So roughly, the ratio of zinc to copper that I would recommend is like 10 to 1. 10 times more zinc than copper. So let’s say, for example, you don’t have an autoimmune disease, you’re not going through an infection, you don’t have any problems with your small intestine. I would take the upper limit dose of 40 milligrams of zinc per day and then I would roughly take like one milligram of copper. Now, these numbers are arbitrary, they’re not exact, so it can be around that. But generally speaking, if you do like a 10 to 1 ratio of zinc to copper, you’re not going to experience symptoms.

But some people actually like to start off small and just do like maybe 10 milligrams of zinc and maybe see how that does, maybe work up. But so many people are deficient in zinc. 1.1 billion people on this planet are deficient in zinc. And what the body will do, it’ll allocate that zinc to the most important functions of the body and not to everything. So the body tends to ration out or use the zinc for the most important parts, and that probably relates to reproduction, sperm count, things like that. But your hair probably is not at the top of the list for survival as a priority. I mean, you can survive without your hair just fine. But as a species, we can’t survive without reproducing.

So you have a couple of options with zinc. Make sure that you’re avoiding things that prevent the absorption, but also you might want to be taking some zinc in addition to that, eating foods high in zinc. Now, there’s a lot more to know about zinc. It’s a fascinating mineral. If you haven’t seen this video, you should probably check it out right now.