Zinc supplements are key in my son’s biomedical treatment regimen. Gastrointestinal disorders may cause zinc deficiency, often with loss of nutrients due to diarrhea.  Malabsorption and maldigestion that goes along with digestive enzyme weakness, food allergies and intolerance can cause kids on the spectrum to have subnormal zinc blood levels.  Zinc may also be displaced by copper in some tissues if copper uptake is excessive.  It also plays a very important role as an enzyme activator or stabilizer.

Since my son’s zinc blood levels were low and he also suffered from malabsorption and maldigestion, zinc supplements were necessary and important.  His gastrointestinal functioning needed to improve or normalize, and required dietary intervention and regular use of digestive enzymes. Zinc also assists in healing the gut, and my DAN! doctor told me our bodies do their best work of recovery and healing at night, during our sleep.  So my son takes his zinc supplement before bed, on an empty stomach with his probiotic.  He has not suffered any stomach upset from this regimen.

Often zinc is included in multivitamin and multimineral blends.  But we found supplementing it separately worked best for our son.  According to DAN! protocol, it should be given away from meals or in the evening, several hours after dinner.  The reason for this is supplemental zinc may slow the digestive action of dipeptidylpepitdase 4 (DPP4). If you’re not familiar with DPP4 is a digestive enzyme, peptidase that breaks down the peptides formed during protein digestion. It is recommended to not give zinc at the same time with calcium, iron or folate since they compete for absorption.

Another interesting benefit from proper zinc levels due to supplementation, is that parents report zinc supplements help their child with autism accept new foods in their diet. It’s also been reported that it helps with the “chewies” or mouthing of objects, or hands in the mouth. One reason for this is zinc is in the saliva protein “gustin”, which has a major role in the sensation of taste.

Zinc is a critically important nutrient for cognitive function because it protects neurotransmitters.  That is why you may have heard the adage “No zinc, no think”.  Therefore, zinc supplementation may improve cognition in children with ADHD and lessen hyperactivity and impulsivity.  Just like children with autism, ADHD kids may be deficient in zinc.

Oral zinc supplements come in many forms: citrate, chelate, picolinate, gluconate,  and aspartate.  Oral zinc sulfate is available but may cause stomach upset.  My son’s zinc supplement form is a combination of citrate and chelate.  He swallows capsules but zinc supplements come in liquid form for those who don’t.

21 Responses

  1. what are the name of your son zinc suplement?
    Thanks Rodrigo

  2. my daughter 3 yrs cannot walk,talk or make use of her hand…retts syndrome.she cant swallow capsules either.so what can i do about the zinc capsules ,methyl b12-is it sold in pharmacies like that?pls am helpless

    • Zinc is sold in a liquid too. Methyl B12 also is sold in a capsule, sublingual over the counter. The compounded shots need to be done by a pharmacist with a prescription. Google zinc liquid and you’ll find a lot of companies that sell it if it’s not in your health food store.

    • I crush tablets into my two son’s pureed food – they also struggle with swallowing and this works well. It’s usually cheaper too.

      • Treatment of clinical cases of Autism in children

        Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) was diagnosed in six children at ages varying from 3-7years. The Criterion for diagnosis was: Social development, Communication, Repetitive behavior and other symptoms. The parents were interviewed and children examined medically in the clinic. Unusual social development was apparent in kids with signs of lesser eye contact, turn taking and deficiency to point at things. The communication was merely babbling, unusual gestures, less responsive to synchronize vocally, less combination of words and gestures were less integrated with words. The repetitive behavior was of different forms e.g., repetition of other’s words (Echolalia), hand flapping and making sounds. Other signs encountered were: poor muscle tone, deficit motor co-ordination and stumbling into objects and gastrointestinal aberrations. Delving into the literature extant it was hypothesized that this problem could be due to the dyshomeostasis of some trace minerals particularly copper, iron and zinc. In some cases hair mineral analysis was done. As is well known that free copper and iron accumulate in nervous tissue specfically in the central nervous system where these metals cause oxidation through production of ‘Free Radicals’ e.g., Hydroxyl, Superoxide and Peroxynitrite. The damage thus caused may be pre- or postnatal and manifest as ASD in children from the very early stages. Zinc being an antagonist of copper and iron was employed for the treatment. Zinc sulfate was given @ 75mg dissolved in water and one capsule of vitamin B-complex given orally daily one hour after the meals. The parents were advised to provide protein rich diet to the patients. During the medication period parents and children were contacted and progress of symptom alleviation was monitored and any side effects noted. It was observed that some improvement was there after one month of treatment. The total period comprised of six months during which the improvement recorded was 60-70% depending upon the initial degree of the malady. The recovered children improved in their movements, social behavior, speech and could operate cell phone, TV etc. Presently these children are attending schools and still observed through contact with parents/ teachers. There was no ill effects from this treatment and children were happy and take part in extracurricular activities.

  3. A really usefull one, I gave zinc to my autistic daughter for many months, and now I stop giving her and I realized tht she has again started mouthing. Anything she picks and put it in her mouth, I thnk I’ll start it again.

  4. I’m trying to understand the DAN protocol…how to I find a DAN doctor in my area?

  5. I have a question. I have a six year old with ADHD, I wanted to try introducing GABA, a zinc supplement, and magnesium, so what dosage would be appropriate. She is 47 pounds.

    • Sorry, I can’t advise on that since I’m not a doctor. Check with your doctor, and research manufacturer recommendations. Also, only start one supplement at a time for several weeks to see how it’s tolerated. If not tolerated, you know to stop that supp.

  6. My Son gets hyper when he takes Zink drink made by Metagenics. This one’s in the sulfate form and may explaine why my son didn’t do well on this one. I guess we need to return to the Kirkman liquid form the we used in the early days.
    great post, I didn’t realize there were more than one type of zinc ingredient. Are there any other supplements that should be paired with the zink to make it work better?
    Great blog. Thank you for sharing this invaluable info to all of us parents who out in the trenches trying to help our children recover and live a happy and healthy life.


    • Thank you for your kind words. Zinc can affect the copper/zinc ratio, magnesium helps with calcium absorption. But zinc can interfere with the ddpiv digestive enzyme and digesting protiens in grains. THat’s why I give it at night, not with a meal.

  7. After about two weeks of taking Bee Zee (generic for Z-Bec) I noticed my grandson (we have custody) behaving so much better! He went a whole week at school with no folder signs. We ran out for a week and he got folder signs the WHOLE week (while still taking his meds. For ADHD). Once we got stocked back up and he had a weekend of his zinc, we’re back to great behavior. I had no idea that zinc helped with ADHD and autism. So as I was reading about our vitamin the dermatologist (yes for our skin, lol) recommended, I was floored by the benefits. So THANKFUL for zinc!!!

  8. My son is 6 years old non verbal autistic on a gf cf sf diet we battle candida , He recently started to bite. I wanted to start zinc but not sure what type of zinc or brand and suggestions please.

  9. Hello my name is Gaëlle .I would like to purchase a zinc supplement syrup gluten free but I didn’t find any.please can you recommend me some.
    Thanks for your blog again

  10. Kirkmans makes a zinc sulfate cream. It doesn’t cause the tummy upsets like other zincs. It’s $14 on Amazon.

    The benefit of zinc sulfate is that the sulfate is already bioavailable and helps with the glutamine process and the entire methylation process.. Basically it supports the detox process thru two methods, zinc and sulfate.

    Hope this helps someone along their journey!!

  11. How did you find out that your son’s zinc blood levels were low and he also suffered from malabsorption and maldigestion?

    • We ran labs on his blood and stool. His stool test results told us he had maldigestion and low levels of lactobacillus bacteria, among others. This lack of good gut bacteria also indicate malabsorption of nutrients. This theory was proven true for my son when I started him on a multi-vitamin that was high in B6 and a lot of his stimming behaviors stopped. A Comprehensive Stool Analysis can be run by several labs, one is Great Plains Labs, Inc. Zinc can be measured by blood test.

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