The 6 Best Zinc Supplements
Zinc is receiving a lot of attention for its potential to treat colds. But this mineral isn’t just needed during cold and flu season.
“Zinc is an essential micronutrient that plays a vital role in various functions of the body,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN and CEO of NY Nutrition Group. This includes supporting your immune system, wound healing, DNA and protein synthesis, and more. This nutrient also plays an important role in your senses of taste and smell, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Most of us get the zinc we need from our food, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There are exceptions, however, where supplementation can be helpful. Plus, taking zinc can help speed up your recovery from a cold (more on that later).
If you are looking to supplement with zinc, here are some recommended options.
- Best zinc powder: GoBiotix Immunity Fizz Wellness Booster ($ 20.84, Amazon.com)
- Best gummy zinc:Pure Encapsulations Zinc Gummy ($ 21.50, Amazon.com)
- Best liquid zinc:Natural ionic zinc in good condition (23.99, Amazon.com)
- Best absorbable zinc:Thorne Zinc Picolinate 30 ($ 33, Amazon.com)
- Best Economical Zinc:Nature Made Zinc ($ 6.27, Amazon.com)
- Best vegan zinc:Raw Zinc Garden of Life Vitamin Code ($ 11.63, Amazon.com)
1. Best powdered zinc supplement: GoBiotix Immunity Fizz Wellness Booster
This supplement “can be mixed with water for a drinkable dose of zinc,” Moskovitz explains. In addition to zinc, it contains other nutrients that support your immune system, such as vitamin C and vitamin D, echinacea and elderberry, she says.
GoBiotix Immunity Fizz Wellness Booster ($ 20.84, Amazon.com)
2. Best Gummy Zinc Supplement: Pure Zinc Gum Encapsulations
Pure Encapsulations is a chewable option that contains 12 milligrams or 109% of your Daily Value (DV) of zinc. Moskovitz loves that this soup tastes good and is made from real fruit. It’s a good option for people with allergies because it’s gluten-free and doesn’t contain eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, or wheat.
Each candy contains only 0.5 grams of sugar.
Pure Encapsulations Zinc Gummy ($ 21.50, Amazon.com)
3. Best liquid zinc supplement: natural ionic zinc in good condition
This drinkable zinc supplement is a top pick from ConsumerLab, an independent organization that tests and reviews health and nutrition products.
Drops of this supplement are mixed with water or juice, and this product is suitable for children or adults. When mixed with another liquid, ConsumerLab describes this product as “essentially tasteless”.
4. Best absorbable zinc supplement: Thorne Zinc Picolinate 30
Moskovitz recommends this product for two reasons: It is NSF certified, which means it has been evaluated and meets NSF standards. Additionally, “picolinate is a highly absorbable form” of zinc, she notes.
One capsule of this supplement contains 273% of your DV of zinc.
5. Best Economical Zinc Supplement: Nature Made Zinc
This economical option is USP verified and easy to find, Moskovitz points out. Each tablet contains 200 percent of your DV of zinc.
6. Best Vegan Zinc Supplement: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
In addition to zinc, this product also contains vitamin C and probiotics. Large capsules contain 273% of your DV of zinc, as well as 67% of your DV of vitamin C.
This supplement is NSF certified, Moskovitz points out. It is also certified vegan and gluten free.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc ($ 11.63, Amazon.com)
When is it recommended to take a zinc supplement?
In most cases, your diet will provide the zinc you need. There are many foods that are high in zinc.
“It is not difficult to meet the GDR [recommended daily allowance] for zinc from food alone, ”notes Moskovitz.
People 19 and older should consume between 8 and 11 milligrams of zinc per day, according to the NIH. Here is the amount of zinc in several everyday foods, according to the NIH:
- 1 ounce of dried pumpkin seeds:2.2 grams of zinc; 20% DV
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas:1.3 grams of zinc; 12% DV
- 1/2 roasted skinless chicken breast:0.9 grams of zinc; 8% DV
- 8 ounces of low fat yogurt:1.7 grams of zinc; 15% DV
If you want to maximize your zinc intake, go for oysters. “Oysters are by far the richest source of zinc available with 74 milligrams of zinc per 3 ounces,” says Moskovitz. That’s 673% of your DV.
That said, even with zinc readily available in food, some people may have difficulty getting the zinc they need from their diet.
“Although zinc is present in many commonly eaten foods, it is certainly most abundant in meat and seafood,” Moskovitz points out. This puts vegetarians and vegans at a higher risk of zinc deficiency, she says. And it’s not just the lack of meat and seafood – diets high in beans and grains (like many plant-based ones) mean taking in a compound that prevents the absorption of zinc, according to the NIH.
There are also other populations at risk for zinc deficiency, such as pregnant or breastfeeding people, people with gastrointestinal disorders, and adults over 60, Moskovitz explains. People with alcohol use disorders as well as people with sickle cell disease may also have deficiencies, according to the NIH.
Who should avoid zinc supplements?
Always consult your doctor or registered dietitian before taking zinc supplements (or any other!), Recommends Moskovitz. “Zinc supplements can interfere with certain medications, including water pills and antibiotics,” she says.
Zinc supplements are generally considered safe to take, although nasal sprays, which are associated with loss of smell, should be avoided, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But watch how much you consume. “It’s possible to overstate the zinc,” Moskovitz says.
Taking too much zinc can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, such as indigestion, diarrhea, and nausea, as well as headaches. According to the NIH, it also has the potential to lower your immunity, HDL (aka “good”) cholesterol and copper levels.
Don’t exceed 40 milligrams of zinc per day, which is the upper tolerable limit, according to the NIH.
How Effective Are Zinc Supplements?
Zinc supplements can be beneficial if you want immune support and wound healing, Moskovitz explains.
If your zinc levels are low, supplements are effective, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Do not take zinc with fiber, according to ConsumerLab – this prevents its absorption.
According to the Mayo Clinic, taking zinc can shorten the duration of a common cold as long as it’s taken within 24 hours of symptom onset. More research is needed to determine what type of zinc supplement is most effective (and in how much) at shortening the duration of a cold, according to the NIH.
Taking zinc may also be helpful in slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration and may also help heal wounds in people with skin ulcers, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What about zinc for COVID-19?
During the novel coronavirus pandemic, numerous headlines have announced the potential of zinc to ward off or treat COVID-19. There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against zinc as a treatment, per the April 2021 guidelines of the NIH COVID-19 treatment guidelines. He doesn’t recommend zinc supplements beyond the recommended dietary intake as a preventative tactic.
What to look for in a zinc supplement
The large number of supplements available can make the choice overwhelming. Keep these considerations in mind when making your choice:
- Look for third-party tests:Seeing that a product is evaluated by independent organizations – such as ConsumerLab – or has a USP or NSF seal “ensures that your product is tested, safe, reliable, and contains exactly what it says on it. label, ”says Moskovitz. A dietitian or doctor can also make a recommendation, she notes.
- Amount of zinc:“Since it’s possible to overdose on zinc, find a supplement that has about 30 milligrams or less per serving,” Moskovitz recommends.
- Watch the loads:If you choose to take a chewable supplement, make sure it isn’t loaded with sugar. And, if there are any ingredients you are allergic to, check to see if they are in the product.