Zinc is an essential trace element responsible for the stable and strong immune system, good skin, and high levels of testosterone in men. Chronic zinc deficiency is linked to such conditions as eczema, acne, and even impaired vision.

Your body cannot produce zinc, just like other trace minerals, which is why it’s essential to obtain it through food or supplementation.This guide will help you choose between five best zinc supplements for different purposes and will answer the main questions about this important mineral.

5 Best Zinc Supplements for the Money

NOW Supplements Zinc Caps

NOW Supplements Zinc Caps

NOW provides you with one of the best zinc supplements in the form of tablets. For making their product, NOW uses zinc gluconate form, which is water-soluble and thus easier for your body to absorb.

One serving of this supplement is equal to 1 capsule and has 50 mg of zinc, which is more than enough to satisfy daily needs even in people with pronounced zinc deficiency. The total package will last you for more than eight months, and there are two- and three-packs available on Amazon.

Another great thing is that NOW zinc is suitable for vegans, allergic people, and individuals with different food sensitivities.

Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate Caps

Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate Caps

If you’re looking for high potency zinc supplement with great value for money, then Pure Encapsulation might be your choice. This manufacturer offers you 15 mg of zinc picolinate, which is equal to your daily intake. There’s also a 30mg option available for those who need to treat their deficiency.

Also, Pure Encapsulations exclude any allergens — such as gluten, soy, lactose, and nuts — from the manufacturing process, so you can be sure that their product won’t bother your digestive system. Along with that, the brand uses vegan-friendly capsule shells made from plant-derived cellulose.

Pure Encapsulations is available in 60 and 180 count package, or as a bundle pack that includes other essential micronutrients, such as selenium, vitamin D3, and Ester-C.

Good State Liquid Ionic Zinc Concentrate

Good State Liquid Ionic Zinc Concentrate

If you find it hard to swallow large caps, then Good State might have the right option for you. Their liquid ionic zinc is one of the best zinc supplements on the market because of its liquid form, which is convenient for consumption, and the optimal 15mg dosage.

One serving of God State is equal to approximately ten drops for adults and five drops for children. The manufacturer suggests dissolving it in 12 oz. of liquid so that you can add it to your juice or smoothie.

The only issue with this supplement is that Good State uses zinc sulfate. It’s a water-soluble form of zinc supplementation, but it’s very active and may cause an upset stomach in people with a sensitive digestive system.

Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges

Nature's Way Zinc Lozenges

Nature’s Way delivers you zinc in lozenges. One candy has 23 mg of zinc in the form of citrate and gluconate, which have high bioavailability and are additionally enriched with echinacea extract and vitamin C.

Besides being tasty and children-friendly, lozenges show great potential in alleviating symptoms of respiratory diseases, such as common cold and rhinitis. Thus, if you feel that you’re getting sick, you might use Nature’s Way supplement as a complementary treatment on your way to recovery.

One jar of Nature’s Way lozenges packs 60 candies. The manufacturer recommends taking up to 6 lozenges per day if you’re using them as a treatment for a sore throat; otherwise, take one tablet per day after a meal.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc Caps

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc Caps

Garden of Life might be the option you need if you’re looking for the best zinc supplement in its purest form. The company states that they derive vitamins and minerals from their natural food sources, which results in better bioavailability and higher potency of the final product.

One jar of Vitamin Code packs 60 capsules in vegan-friendly shells. Each of them contains 30 mg of zinc with vitamin C and digestive enzymes for better absorption. Other ingredients are trace minerals blend (spirulina, chlorella, and peat) along with a fruit and vegetable blend.

However, if you are already taking copper supplements, then the amount of zinc in Garden of Life might be too high for you, as zinc may compete with copper for absorption. So, you may want to opt for the products with a lower dosage.

What Is Zinc and Why Do You Need It?

Zinc is a chemical element. In its natural form, it’s a pale grey metal. But when you eat zinc-rich foods or take supplements, you’re always consuming zinc in salt form, when it’s bound with another molecule that improves absorption of this mineral and its integration in your body cells.

Along with copper, iron, and manganese, zinc is an essential microelement for humans. But what does zinc do exactly? 

Here are just a few examples:

  • regulates the levels of estrogen by promoting progesterone production;
  • increases the levels of testosterone;
  • stimulates body cells to repair and renew;
  • boosts immune functions;
  • aids in muscle growth;
  • helps your digestive system.

“Some studies show that the p53 gene, which can protect you from developing breast or prostate cancer, requires zinc to function and stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells.”

Symptoms of Zinc Depletion: Find Out If You Need Supplements

Symptoms of Zinc Depletion: Find Out If You Need Supplements

Although zinc is abundant in foods, people still can have low levels of this mineral in their bodies without even noticing that. That’s because your organs — primarily the liver, kidneys, and pancreas — can store zinc in cell deposits. And only when these deposits become depleted, you may begin to experience zinc deficiency symptoms, such as:

  • eczema and skin sores;
  • impaired wound healing;
  • diarrhea;
  • hair loss;
  • frequent episodes of the common cold;

“In older people, zinc deficiency may contribute to the condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Chronic AMD is one of the main reasons for vision loss.”

So, how do you know if you’re not getting enough zinc before the symptoms of depletion become pronounced

Some groups of people are more prone to developing zinc deficiency:

  • Vegans and vegetarians. As most of the zinc-rich foods are animal-based, people who maintain a plant-based diet might need additional supplementation.
  • Alcoholics. Alcohol decreases the absorption of nutrients from food and increases their excretion through the urine. Besides that, alcoholics usually maintain an inferior diet, which contributes to depletion.
  • People with gastrointestinal diseases. Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease decreases the absorption of many essential minerals, so you might need increased amounts of zinc to meet your needs.
  • Infants. Breast milk usually does not contain enough zinc for infants older than six months. In this case, they should be given foods that have zinc to meet their daily needs, such as meat purees.

“Pregnant women might need an additional supplementation with zinc to ensure healthy fetal development.”

Where Can You Naturally Find Zinc?

Where Can You Naturally Find Zinc?

The easiest way to get proper zinc daily intake is to consume foods that are natural sources of this mineral. There are plenty of them, with the most potent being animal products and seafood:

  • oysters — 36 mg per 6 pieces;
  • king crab — 10.2 mg per 1 leg;
  • beef (chuck steak) — 11 mg per 100 g;
  • lamb — 7.8 mg per 100 g;
  • chicken (drumstick + thigh) — 4.9 mg per 1 leg.

However, vegans can also incorporate foods high in zinc into their diet if they consume:

  • pumpkin seeds — 6.6 mg per cup;
  • tofu — 4 mg per cup;
  • adzuki beans — 4.1 mg per cup;
  • lentils — 2.1 mg per cup.

Note that zinc that comes from plant sources might be harder to absorb, thus you may consider supplementation with this element as a way of getting the right amount per day.

Which Form of Zinc Has Better Bioavailability?

So, zinc is essential for you, but it’s also a heavy metal. Your body cannot just digest heavy metals, which is why taking zinc, iron, copper, and other metal supplements might upset your stomach.

Or might not, depending on the form of supplement you choose.

Typically, in foods, zinc ion is bound to an amino acid or an organic acid molecule to improve its bioavailability. It’s the famous ‘chelated’ form you probably know about.

Depending on the organic component, chelated zinc forms usually include:

  • Zinc picolinate. This salt appears when zinc is combined with picolinic acid, which is a part of the tryptophan molecule. This is one of the best zinc supplements because of its fast oral absorption and aiding in the treatment of depletion symptoms.
  • Zinc gluconate. Another widespread form of zinc supplementation found in over-the-counter drugs. This salt is made by fermentation of glucose, which is why it has a long shelf life and is easy to digest by your stomach. However, the bioavailability of this form is lower compared to others.
  • Zinc citrate. Citrate is a salt of citric acid. This is also a form of zinc that is easy to digest. Moreover, it has the least pronounced metallic taste among all the supplements. Just like gluconate, zinc citrate has a long shelf life.
  • Zinc orotate. This salt is made by a combination of zinc and orotic acid. Scientists believe that body cells most readily absorb this type of zinc because its molecule is neutrally charged and can pass through membranes with less effort.
  • Zinc acetate. Acetate is produced by binding zinc with acetic acid. This form has better absorption than gluconate and can be used in lozenges for treating the common cold and its symptoms.

Along with organic forms of zinc, there are also non-organic, such as sulfate and oxide. These zinc tablets have much lower bioavailability and are heavy on the digestive system, meaning that they’re more likely to cause an upset stomach. However, they still have some benefits that are worth mentioning:

  • Zinc sulfate. Sulfate isn’t the best form for oral consumption, but it can help with treating skin lesions. Also, zinc sulfate is often used in eye drops and might help in alleviating eye irritation.
  • Zinc oxide. The most common use of zinc oxide is a topical application for different skin disorders. Oral supplements with this form of zinc are available on the market too, but their bioavailability is minimal.

Speaking of consumption forms, you also have many options to choose from with the most common ones being pills, lozenges, gummies, and sprays. Here are the main differences between them:

  • zinc pills provide precisely measured dosage and are convenient for consumption;
  • zinc lozenges are excellent for sore throat and other symptoms of respiratory diseases;
  • zinc fluids are suitable for people who want to make their beverage more nutritional or have an issue with swallowing tablets.

“Zinc creams and ointments cannot be considered supplements because their use is limited to a duration of eczema episode or acne outbreak, and they do not replenish zinc levels in your body.”

Scientifically Proven Zinc Benefits for Health

Since zinc is vital to your body, taking it as a supplement may have many health advantages. So, here’s what zinc does for your health.

Regulates Immune Function

Zinc is one of the crucial elements that are required for the proper functioning of the immune system. This element impacts your immunity in several ways:

  • by activating the production and maturation of T-lymphocytes, the white blood cells that fight pathogens;
  • by acting as a cofactor for enzymes, which decrease inflammation and aid in recovery and repair;
  • by working as an antioxidant and reducing exposure of body cells to free radicals.

An American Journal of Critical Nutrition study showed that taking zinc gluconate in amounts that are equal to 45 mg of elemental zinc for 12 months resulted in decreased levels of inflammation markers and less frequent infections in the elderly.

Helps Treat the Common Cold

The ability to help fight the common cold is one of the most widely researched zinc supplement benefits. 

Studies show that the best supplementation forms for reducing the symptoms of sore throat are lozenges or syrups. For example, a review published in The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal showed that eating zinc lozenges reduced the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%.

Top it with the fact that kids are way more likely to catch a cold, and you will get a great solution to get them back to a healthy condition, as lozenges are tasty and won’t provoke an association with bitter pills.

Improves Fertility

Zinc is a natural testosterone booster. Men need testosterone for improving spermatogenesis, sperm quality, and boosting sexual drive. Numerous studies show that inadequate levels of zinc may be linked to male infertility.

A review in Today’s Dietitian Journal showed that supplementation with zinc and folic acid improves semen quality and motility.

Women can also benefit from zinc supplementation, as this element plays a role in egg maturation and ovulation processes. Besides that, zinc can balance estrogen and progesterone levels, thus making your menstrual cycle more regular and healthy.

Aids in Heart Health

There are promising findings of the role of zinc in cardiovascular health. 

For example, a meta-analysis of 24 studies concluded that zinc could decrease the levels of low-density lipoproteins, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and balance the blood triglycerides, thus potentially lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.

Alleviates Diarrhea Symptoms

Diarrhea might be highly unpleasant for adults, but it’s even worse for children. The World Health Organization reports that diarrhea yearly kills more than 525,000 of children under five years due to an electrolyte loss and water depletion. This is an issue in third world countries with poor hygiene and higher risks of intestinal infections.

Research shows that zinc supplementation reduces the severity of diarrhea and the possibility of getting repeated episodes in the next couple of months. Scientists state that zinc supplements are effective regardless of their form, whether it’s sulfate, gluconate, or acetate.

Decreases the Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The macula is the part of the retina that is involved in the central vision. This tissue degenerates with age and is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 65 around the USA.

The Oregon State University reports that taking zinc supplements might be beneficial for older people with AMD, because:

  • the macula contains a high level of zinc in its cells;
  • macular zinc content decreases with age;
  • the activity of some macular enzymes that depend on zinc levels also decreases with age.

That’s why improving zinc levels through diet or supplementation may help slow down the development of age-related macular degeneration.

Improves Skin Quality

Zinc is often used for treating certain skin disorders, such as acne and eczema. People usually prefer zinc supplements for acne over other methods, because supplementation is cost-efficient and has way more unwanted effects than hormonal therapy.

A Dermatology Research and Practice Journal study showed that zinc sulfate is the best form of both topical and oral supplementation for moderate and severe inflammatory acne. Other conditions that showed positive treatment response to zinc supplements were oral and genital herpes, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Also, zinc is needed to maintain skin integrity and structure, and it might be beneficial for improving the wound healing process. That’s why applying topical creams with zinc might be useful for treating skin ulcers and diaper rash, however, more data is needed on the most suitable form of zinc for this purpose.

Helps People With Leaky Gut 

The leaky gut syndrome is a chronic inflammatory condition that results in tiny perforations in your intestines. 

Zinc, thanks to its anti-inflammatory activity, can reduce the manifestations of leaky gut and alleviate the symptoms.

Research shows that taking oral zinc supplements may have a similar effect to that of tight junctions (the elements of gut lining), thus restoring the intestinal barrier and providing the desired relief.

What Is the Recommended Dosage of Zinc?

What Is the Recommended Dosage of Zinc?

Your daily amount of zinc is tied to your life stage. Scientists from the National Institute of Health suggest the following zinc supplement dosage for different age groups:

  • 0-6 months — 2 mg;
  • 7-12 months — 3 mg;
  • 1-3 years — 3 mg;
  • 4-8 years —5 mg;
  • 9-13 years — 8 mg;
  • 14-18 years (boys) — 11 mg;
  • 14-18 years (girls) — 9 mg;
  • adults (men) — 11 mg;
  • adults (women)     — 8 mg;
  • pregnant women — 11 mg;
  • breastfeeding women — 12 mg;

Most supplements typically contain 15-30 mg of zinc, which may seem too high for you. But it’s not. See, almost all supplements contain zinc in the form of salt, and you cannot absorb 100% of the volume of elemental zinc from these compounds. 

The tolerable upper limit of zinc for adults is 40 mg. Doses below this level are unlikely to provoke side effects of zinc in healthy people. 

Can You Overdose On Zinc?

Of course, if you’re following the instructions provided by your healthcare practitioner or by manufacturer, you are very unlikely to overdose on zinc.

However, some people are more prone to get zinc poisoning:

  • People with dentures. Some dental adhesive creams might contain high amounts of zinc, up to 34 mg per 1 g. If you’re using 2 or more standard tubes of this substance, chances are that you might get zinc poisoning.
  • People with the common cold. Yes, zinc lozenges might help you; but the thing is, many brands recommend to use them every couple of hours to maintain the relieving effect. Now, remember that every lozenge contains at least twice the daily dosage, and you will see that getting zinc poisoning from sweet candies is more than a myth.

The bad thing about zinc toxicity is that it will only hit you with adverse effects after a while, usually in 3-5 hours, depending on the form of zinc you’re taking. That’s why you should monitor your condition for the following signs:

  • stomach pain;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • headache;
  • dizziness;
  • diarrhea.

Note that zinc poisoning is a potentially life-threatening condition. That’s why you should seek medical help right away after noticing the aforementioned symptoms. 

Now, you may also expect different side effects of zinc supplements if you combine them with other supplements or drugs:

  • Antidiabetic drugs. Zinc can lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes II type. Thus, when you take both zinc and antidiabetic drugs, your blood sugar levels may drop too low.
  • Antibiotics. It’s recommended to take zinc at least two hours before or 4-6 hours after taking antibiotics so that it wouldn’t interfere with them.
  • Copper supplements. Zinc can interfere with or completely block the absorption of copper, as these elements compete for the same binding sites. To avoid this, try taking 2-3 mg of copper along with zinc supplementation.

“Some people may experience zinc allergy, which manifests in the form of contact dermatitis or eczema-like symptoms. That’s why visiting your doctor before supplementing yourself with zinc is mandatory.”

Wrapping Up

Zinc is an essential mineral for many bodily functions, such as enzyme production, protein synthesis, and hormonal regulation. It also acts as a neurotransmitter and allows your neural cells to communicate.

Zinc deficiency may lead to stunted growth in children, hair loss, impaired vision, and digestive distress. However, consuming too much zinc isn’t advisable either, as this may provoke nausea and headaches or block the absorption of other essential elements, such as iron or copper.

Animal-based foods are better zinc sources than plants. However, if you follow a vegan diet or have malabsorption, you can help yourself reach the recommended daily intake of zinc through supplementation. Yet, it’s important to do this under the supervision of your doctor.

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