Does Zinc Help Pass a Drug Test?
There are claims on the internet that zinc can help you pass a drug test. However, there is a lot more to such claims. Are there studies to support the statement? Yes, some studies conducted over the years prove that zinc has some masking effect. But there is still a lot to consider such as the quantity required and effective method of taking it.
For almost one decade, the question of how much to use to produce a false negative has lingered. Some researchers believe that zinc interferes with the detection of some drug metabolites. However, this only applies when it is used as an adulterant. New studies now suggest that zinc supplements can produce the same results when they are ingested.Since there are two proven methods of using zinc, which method is more effective?
Adulteration or Ingestion of Zinc Supplements?
In 2011, the Journal of Analytical Toxicology published a study that bordered on the capability of zinc in reducing the detection of some drugs like THC, cocaine, and methamphetamine. The method used was an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
The test involved four volunteers who were administered 0.75-1 g of cannabis. Later, the volunteers were given zinc sulfate supplements. The quantity was 4 tablets of 50 mg. after this process, urine specimens were collected from the volunteers.
In a bid to determine how effective zinc sulfate was when it is used as an adulterant, the researchers took drug-free urine which was split into two different tubes. Two volunteers provided the sample. One tube was mixed with a zinc sulfate solution and the pH levels were measured before the analysis was conducted.
At the end of the investigations, the researchers resolved that zinc ion was effective in causing false negatives in urine drug tests. They also reported that zinc can give similar effects despite the mode of taking it in. This implies that direct addition or ingestion didn’t matter as long as the zinc is present in the system, it would mask detection.
Along with the findings, the research also revealed the following:
- The ELISA signal often increases as the dosage is increased.
- As an additive, they noticed that zinc sulfate caused turbidity which was not present when it was ingested as a supplement.
- There wasn't any suitable test to detect zinc used as an adulterant.
This study reveals that both the direct addition and ingestion of zinc sulfate in the urine sample are effective. However, ingestion seems like a better option because you can do it at home before you head out. It is a lot easier than adding tablets to the urine before it is sent to the lab for analysis.
Also, another point to note is the fact that the ingestion of zinc supplements does no add turgidity to specimens. This may be suspicious when discovered. Now that the capability of zinc in reducing the detection of drugs in urine has been proven, what is the right quantity to add?
How Much Zinc Should Be Added to Urine Samples?
As noted above, the adulteration method of using zinc sulfate appears safer than the other ingestion method. However, the right dosage is required for maximum effect. How can you determine the right amount for a successful adulteration?
The studies from 2011 and 2013 show that the required amount of zinc depends on other factors such as the number of metabolites in the urine. The implication of this is that when the drug metabolites are higher, the amount of zinc needed increases as well. If it does not match, it may not produce a false negative.
The 2011 study revealed that if the concentration of zinc is about 25 mg/mL or higher, the absorbance decreases. The substantial change in pH levels also reduces in the urine specimen.
The researchers concluded that zinc sulfate concentration of 15 mg/ml is a safer option. Normally, urine tests require approximately 30ml of urine so this means you need at least 450mg of zinc. Also, zinc pills are available in 50g to 100mg. From this calculation, you may need around 5-9 zinc pills. However, this depends on the grams of each pill.
Is Zinc a Safe Bet? Can It Be Detected in Urine?
When the studies above were conducted, the researchers believed that there was no way to detect zinc when the adulteration method is used in a urine test. Recently, new studies have found that zinc sulfate is detectable through the novel spot tests. This new testing method was developed after the studies were conducted.
Another important thing to note is that when zinc is introduced directly to urine samples, it can produce a white precipitate that is detectable. Going by the SAMSHA guidelines, this sort of abnormal color in urine screams adulteration. The only thing that could save such a sample is the fact that turbidity could be caused by several factors.
So any slight change in urine color may not necessarily raise eyebrows. If there is abnormal foaming that is synonymous with detergents, it could be detected. Also, modern labs today do not test for zinc sulfate despite the development of the novel tests.
Is It a Reliable Method?
It is true that zinc is effective in causing a false negative in Emit and ELISA based tests. The compound has been proven to interfere with test performance and lead to a false-negative.
Despite this fact, it is clear that administering zinc sulfate by yourself doesn't offer enough concentration to change the results. From the studies above, the ingestion of 400mg of zinc supplement doubled zinc levels in the urine sample. However, the result was 5000 folds less than what is needed to create interference. In simple terms, the ingestion method is not viable and may not produce a false negative.
This makes adulteration the slightly better method. But this method is not free from risks and challenges. It requires that you have a high understanding of drug metabolite levels in your body to determine the proper dosage. Considering all of these risks and requirements, zinc may not be a reliable tool to use in passing a drug test.