While B-complex vitamins and minerals like calcium get all the press zinc just goes about its business, quietly ensuring our immune system is up to snuff, that our heart is strong and steady and that our hormone levels are properly balanced.
It’s a lot of work for an unheralded mineral. And if you eat a well-balanced diet you usually don’t have to worry about zinc. But the fact is that people the world over don’t necessarily eat a balanced diet. And it doesn’t take much for a few oversights to turn into a zinc deficiency. So, in order to ensure all those important functions have the zinc they need it makes sense to make a good zinc supplement part of your dietary routine. Here we have reviewed the best 10 zinc supplements of 2021.
1. Metagenics Zinlori 75
Until recently Metagenics produced supplements that were pretty hard to get your hands on unless they were prescribed directly by a doctor. Fortunately for all of us the company has decided to release their vitamin and mineral supplements to the general public. Not that what you’re going to get here is something revolutionary.
Instead, the advantage of the Metagenics brand is that their products are created using the highest standards of purity and potency in the business. As a result you never have to wonder whether you’re getting your money’s worth. Zinlori 75 is a chelated zinc. Meaning it’s easier for your system to digest and absorb it. And at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. Each capsule contains a 17mg dose that will help protect your heart, liver, immune system and more.
2. Garden Of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
While Garden of Life supplements don’t have the pedigree of the Metagenics brand they do have a decades long reputation for quality. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. Everything that goes into a Garden of Life supplement is 100% natural and, in this case, 100% vegan as well. Meaning the zinc here wasn’t derived from animal sources.
Each Vitamin Code Raw Zinc capsule contains 15mg of plant derived zinc. There’s also 50mg of vitamin C as well as a blend of probiotics (1) to further enhance gut performance and digestion of the zinc. As with all Garden of Life products the Raw Zinc is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), gluten, artificial flavors or colors and it’s made in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility to the highest standards.
3. Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate 30 mg
Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate is provided in a larger-than-average dosage of 30mg. This makes it a good choice for people who are taking zinc supplements in order to correct a shortfall. As opposed to taking it strictly for preventative reasons. It’s highly pure and offered here in picolinate form. While that might sound scary it’s actually just one of several types of chelated zinc on the market and is neither better nor worse than any other type.
The purpose of chelation is to enhance the bioavailability of the product. That’s it. The better your body is able to digest it the better it works and the less you need. All Thorne Research supplements are 3rd party tested to ensure they deliver the advertised dose. And each is free of artificial ingredients, sugar, eggs, dairy and gluten.
4. Nature Made Zinc Tabs
Nature Made Zinc Tabs are also 30mg each, which makes them a good choice for vegetarians and others who may not be getting enough zinc in their regular diet. Nature Made has been around a long time and has a well-deserved reputation for quality and purity.
There’s nothing here that’s going to initiate allergic reactions, no artificial flavors or colors and no genetically modified organisms. Just pure plant-derived zinc in a gluconated form and none of the zinc oxide that often times finds its way into lesser supplements. Back to “gluconated” for a second: zinc gluconate is not chelated so it’s not quite as easy to absorb. However, it has antiviral properties chelated zinc doesn’t have. Which makes it a good choice for those fighting the flu or even respiratory infections.
5. Good State Ionic Liquid Zinc Ultra Concentrate
Like chelated zinc ionic zinc is better absorbed by the human system than zinc oxides. In this case delivering the zinc in liquid form also optimizes its absorption rate. That’s because there’s no capsule for your body to break down first. The company recommends you place 10 drops in a glass of water once in the morning to ensure you’re ready to face the day with your system properly buttressed.
Within minutes the zinc is spreading out through your system filling in nutritional gaps and fortifying key processes. This is an excellent choice for those with an aversion to pills or who have trouble swallowing pills for some reason. It also winds up costing a little less per dose since making capsules is more expensive than providing the zinc in a liquid form.
6. Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges
A capsule is designed to release its full dosage as soon as the stomach breaks down the capsule wall. A lozenge on the other hand is meant to be slowly melted down. This produces a kind of low-tech time release. Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges are a good choice for those suffering from a cold or the flu, or battling an upper respiratory infection.
Each lozenge contains 23mg of zinc along with vitamin C and echinacea. The three are commonly believed to help alleviate the worst symptoms of a respiratory tract infection. Of course, the lozenge delivery method comes with a downside some will find off-putting. That is, that in order to mask the naturally unpleasant taste of the zinc sorbitol is added to the formulation along with fructose. If that’s not a problem for you though you should find these zinc lozenges very helpful.
7. EZ Melts Zinc
EZ Melts Zinc are another lozenge-style zinc supplement that releases their zinc contents slowly over time as you enjoy the pleasant taste. You can bring them with you to work or shopping and always have one ready should you need one.
Like the Nature’s Way lozenges we just profiled these EZ Melts are great for those suffering from the cold or flu or battling respiratory infection. And like the Nature’s Way lozenges the fact that they’re intended to melt slowly in your mouth means flavors and colors are added to make them look and taste better. In this case those additives include mannitol, xylitol and monk fruit extract. Now, there’s lots of people who won’t have a problem with those ingredients. If you do however, we’d advise trying a standard zinc capsule instead.
8. Pure Encapsulations Liquid Zinc
Pure Encapsulations Liquid Zinc is a great way to get the zinc you need without having to choke down a capsule or tablet. Each 15mg serving can be suspended in water, your protein shake or even your morning coffee and will get to work fast bolstering your immune system and protecting you from heart disease and other maladies.
If there’s an issue with this type of delivery system it’s that determining exactly what constitutes 15mg can be a challenge. The company says it’s 2 droppers full. Okay. Just be sure not to overdo things. Beyond the measurement challenge however PE Liquid Zinc is very pure and takes only minutes to be absorbed. In addition the zinc here is derived from plants so it’s vegan and vegetarian safe and there are no GMOs or other nasty additives.
9. Swanson Zinc Citrate 30mg
Swanson is another brand that’s been around for many years and has earned its place in the market. Their Zinc Citrate supplement is highly potent and at the same time easily absorbed by body. Zinc citrate is often recommended by doctors for their patients with zinc deficiency because of its potency.
If there is a downside here it’s that while zinc citrate is well absorbed by the digestive system and is among the most potent forms of supplemental zinc, that potency can sometimes generate side effects such as upset stomach or diarrhea.
10. 21st Century Zinc Chewable with C & B6
One of the great things about supplements today is that they’re available in so many different forms. On this list alone we’ve already seen capsules, drops and lozenges. So it’s only fitting that we bring our list of best zinc supplements to a close with yet another delivery form, this time the chewable tablet. These are another good option for those averse to swallowing pills.
Each chewable tab contains 15mg of zinc along with moderate doses of vitamins C and B6 which will help you in your cold/flu recovery efforts. Like the lozenges we looked at earlier chewable tabs like this also require added flavors. In this case sorbitol and sucrose and FD&C Red #40 coloring. So keep that in mind.
Why is Zinc Important?
Zinc is an element that gets a lot of attention for its ability to bolster testosterone production in men of every age (2), but particularly older men. Exactly how it does this is not fully understood but the clinical evidence is undeniable. That said, zinc is important for a variety of other reasons as well. Including its apparent ability to reduce some symptoms of the common cold, the role it plays in helping athletes and workout enthusiasts deal with tired, achy muscles and for its antioxidant properties. We’ll get to all these benefits and more in detail in a few moments.
Who Can Benefit from Taking Zinc?
The following are the type of people who may want to consider taking zinc supplements.
- Vegetarians – One of the most plentiful sources of zinc is meat. As such, those who eliminate meat from their diet are often at risk of developing a zinc deficiency. This can lead to a compromised immune system, weight loss, weakness and an inability of your body to heal wounds in a timely fashion.
- Athletes – Zinc is important to athletes for a couple of reasons. First, it plays a role in the production of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone enables athletes to push themselves through physical barriers (3). In addition, zinc is important when it comes to metabolizing amino acids. This matters to athletes because amino acids are the building blocks of protein and, by extension, muscle.
- Diabetics – Because zinc has the ability to regulate hormone activity, and insulin is a hormone, zinc has a role to play in the prevention and possible treatment of diabetes. Zinc bonds with insulin creating compounds that can be stored in the pancreas for later use. Many diabetics have been found to be zinc deficient (4).
- Those will fertility problems – Because zinc plays a role in promoting testosterone production it is also important for enhancing the sex drive in men. But it’s important too for women because zinc plays a key role in egg production. Once a baby is conceived it also needs zinc in order to activate more than 300 bodily enzymes.
- People with cardiovascular problems – Zinc is important for maintaining good blood vessel health. It also plays a role in the regulation of calcium as it pertains to your heart cells. This is important because of calicum’s role in regulating the heart beat (5).
What are the Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?
Zinc deficiency is recognized as a worldwide nutritional problem (6). Though not one that gets a lot of news coverage. Typically the condition occurs when a person does not eat enough foods rich in zinc. Either that or they have trouble absorbing zinc for some reason or another. Unfortunately, a zinc deficiency is often one of the unintended side effects of not eating meat. Since meat is one of the most common and abundant sources of zinc (7).
But aside from vegetarians who else is susceptible to zinc deficiency? The answer is people with chronic digestive problems, alcoholics, people with unbalanced stomach acid levels and women taking birth control pills or those engaged in hormone replacement therapy. All of these factors can interfere with zinc absorption.
The following are signs that you’re not getting enough zinc:
- Reduction in your sense of taste and smell.
- Loss of appetite or cravings for sweet or salty food.
- Accelerated hair loss.
- Diarrhea or other digestive problems.
- PMS or other menopausal symptoms.
- Loss of short term memory.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Nervous system disfunction.
- Reduction in your body’s immune response.
Now to be sure some of these may indicate other problems. So if you experience any of them the wisest decision is to discuss things with your doctor before simply loading up on zinc.
What are the Benefits of Taking Supplemental Zinc?
As we mentioned a few moments ago there are a number of benefits to taking supplemental zinc beyond its well-known ability to restore testosterone levels. Those benefits are:
- The ability to reduce cold symptoms – While we still don’t have a cure for the common cold zinc has demonstrated an ability to alleviate some of the worst symptoms of this age old malady (8). Studies show that if you take zinc within 24 hours of coming down with a cold it may in fact help reduce mucus production, clear your nose so you can breath better and shorten the duration of the cold.
- Powerful antioxidant effects – Zinc is known to be a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. As such its a key player in the fight against free radicals and oxidative stress. Reducing oxidative stress is believed to increase your body’s ability to resist some forms of cancer (9). This is an important discovery and may well help pave the road for more effective preventive measures in the future.
- It may help fight diabetes – Without adequate amounts of zinc your body will have a difficult or even impossible, time achieving a proper balance of hormones. And since insulin is a hormone that has diabetic implications. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Zinc supports insulin in its work by binding to it so that it can be stored in the pancreas for later use (10). A body without adequate stores of insulin is a body susceptible to fluctuating blood sugar levels and ultimately a body that is likely to develop type II diabetes.
- Supports the integrity of blood vessels – Zinc is also used by the body to help maintain the integrity of blood vessels (11). This has potential widespread implications when it comes to developing new therapies to deal with cardiovascular diseases. The healthier our veins and arteries the easier it is for blood to deliver oxygen and vital nutrients. This has a beneficial effect on every aspect of our physiology.
- Increases testosterone levels – Of course this is what zinc is most widely known for. Multiple studies have bolstered the proposition that zinc plays an important role in testosterone production (12). Restoring testosterone levels to normal plays a key role in restoring libido and, by extension, improving fertility. But the hormonal benefits of zinc are not all male-centric. Women need zinc to fortify the hormones involved in the process of egg growth.
- Helps prevent diarrhea – People suffering from zinc deficiency often suffer from diarrhea. Zinc supplementation has proven itself effective at both preventing and treating diarrhea. Although you need to be aware that diarrhea has dozens of possible causes (including, ironically, zinc overload) and zinc alone may not be effective in treating your particular case.
- Aids in proper digestion – Zinc has been shown through clinical studies to play an important role in digestive enzyme activity (13). That’s a fancy way of saying it helps you digest your food better. The body needs zinc to metabolize amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Proteins, of course, are the building blocks of muscle. So if you have any interest in achieving or maintaining robust health you’ll need to get enough zinc.
- Promotes a healthy liver – Because of its anti-inflammatory powers Zinc is believed to help fend off damage to the liver caused by free radicals. Zinc can also be useful in the liver cleanse process, plays an important role in nutrient absorption and enables the liver to properly eliminate waste products.
Is it Possible to Overdose on Zinc?
If you scour the medical record thoroughly enough you’re bound to find a few documented cases of zinc overdose. However, such instances are extremely rare and have only occurred while a person was receiving intravenous zinc supplementation for one reason or another. As long as you take as directed the odds of you overdosing on zinc supplements like the ones on our list is so remote as to be a non-issue.
What to Look for in a Good Zinc Supplement
A good rule of thumb is to buy a zinc supplement that is mostly or completely free of unnecessary secondary ingredients. Sometimes supplement makers toss things into the formula just so as a way to separate their product from the competition. In the end though these extraneous, hard to justify additions don’t do much. And in some cases they can even undermine the effectiveness of the supplement.
Another thing you want to look for is whether or not the zinc is “chelated”. Chelated just means that the zinc has been attached to another compound in order to aid in its absorption by the body. Zinc “picolinate” is also a form of chelated zinc. In general doctors and dieticians recommend you use chelated zinc because it’s more easily absorbed. But non-chelated zinc isn’t likely to hurt you.
The Bottom Line
Zinc plays a number of key roles in various metabolic processes, can help prevent heart disease, boosts testosterone production and can even help you get over the common cold. Just to name a few of its amazing benefits. While older men are obvious beneficiaries of supplemental zinc they’re hardly the only ones who will derive some benefit from one of our best zinc supplements. If you have reason to think zinc supplements may help you but you’re unsure, talk it over with your doctor.