What is the Best Zinc Supplement Brand to buy in 2017?

Zinc is an essential mineral, which is involved in metabolism, immune function, protein synthesis and many other processes (source). Unfortunately, zinc deficiencies are a concern around the world. In the U.S., an estimated 12% of the population is at risk for zinc deficiency (source).

One way to prevent or treat a zinc deficiency is to use a zinc supplement. But, with so many supplements on the market, how do you choose the best zinc supplement for you?

Below, I’ll address this and any other concerns you may have about zinc supplements.

Who Needs Zinc Supplements?

As with other minerals, the daily recommended intake for zinc varies with age and sex. For adult females, it is 8mg and for adult males, it is 11 mg (source). Although there are food sources with zinc (such as oysters, red meat, poultry and beans), certain groups are at a higher risk of zinc deficiency than others.

Many of the rich sources of zinc are meat products and legumes contain compounds which inhibit zinc absorption, so vegetarians are at risk for zinc deficiency (source).

Pregnant women are also at a higher risk for zinc deficiency due to the fetus’ need for zinc (source). Pregnant women should be getting 11 mg of zinc daily (source). Even women on birth control pills need to be careful, since extra amounts of zinc are required to metabolize the pill (source).

Those with gastrointestinal disorders (for example, Crohn’s disease) have decreased zinc absorption, so are at risk for a deficiency, too (source). However, zinc supplements have been shown to be beneficial in this area, as I will further explain below.

Lastly, alcoholics are at risk for zinc deficiency since ethanol decreases zinc absorption and the amount and type of food alcoholics eat is usually limited (source).

If you have a zinc deficiency or are at risk for one, you may benefit from a supplement. How can you tell if you have a zinc deficiency, though? Look out for these symptoms (source):

What Zinc Supplements Do

Of course, zinc supplements treat and prevent zinc deficiencies, which may come with many symptoms.

But, why is zinc so important for our body anyway?

It plays a role in metabolism

Zinc is a component of over 300 enzymes, which play a role in synthesizing and breaking down carbs, proteins and fats (source).

It helps our immune system to function optimally

Our body also needs zinc to make T-cells, which are a key player in our immune system (source). T-cells recognize and kill virus cells and other foreign pathogens. This makes zinc a popular treatment for the common cold (source).

It helps to fight off free radicals

Free radicals are a natural part of our body’s processes. They are created during respiration and are actually not all bad (they help to get rid of foreign invaders). However, when there are too many free radicals in our body, they can cause DNA mutations and cell damage.

Antioxidants help to fight off free radicals, though. And zinc helps copper to act as the antioxidant, copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (source).

It prevents and treats alcoholic liver disease

As previously mentioned, alcoholics are at high risk for zinc deficiency. They are also at risk for alcoholic liver disease, which can eventually lead to cirrhosis. However, studies have found that consuming zinc supplements actually helps to prevent and treat alcoholic liver disease by inhibiting the generation of harmful reactive oxygen species (source).

It tightens “leaky guts”

A leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions of your intestines malfunction, causing toxins, undigested food particles and microbes to leak out into your bloodstream (source). This can cause inflammation in your body and chronic inflammation is the cause of many serious diseases, including autoimmune disorders (source). Leaky gut is also a characteristic of Crohn’s disease (source).

One study showed that zinc supplements helped to tighten leaky guts in those with Crohn’s disease by improving intestinal barrier function (source).

How To Choose The Best Zinc Supplement

As always, when choosing a supplement, you’ll want to read the labels carefully.

The label will contain information about potential allergens, food dyes and preservatives. Of course, if you’re a vegan, check for the ‘vegan-friendly’ label.

I think that the fewer ingredients a supplement has, the better it is. Many of the added ingredients are not necessary and are usually not tested. The only time there should be added ingredients is if it increases the mineral’s absorption.

In terms of zinc, there are many different forms and some are better absorbed than others.

The ones that are best absorbed are: zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc glycerate and zinc monomethionine (source). Zinc sulfate is the cheapest form, but it is known to cause stomach irritation (source).

You’ll notice that zinc supplements will be either chelated or non-chelated. The difference is that chelated versions attach the zinc to something else (like an amino acid) to help with absorption (source). Chelated forms of zinc include zinc picolinate (which has been chelated to picolinic acid) and zinc orotate (which is chelated to orotic acid) (source).

It’s best to speak to your doctor about which form of zinc is best for you because a large part of absorption depends on your body and any conditions you may have.

I would recommend staying away from zinc sulfate and zinc oxides (as the latter is not easily absorbed) (source).

Zinc may come in supplements which also contain calcium, but it’s best to avoid these, too. Calcium and zinc actually compete for common absorption sites in the body, so they should be taken separately (source).

Finally, pay attention to the dosage of the supplement and remember that too much zinc can be harmful. Zinc does inhibit copper when there are high amounts in the body (source). This can be dangerous, as copper helps your body to use iron. So, having a copper deficiency may lead to anemia (source). Some other side effects of too much zinc are (source):

  • Heavy metal poisoning (vomiting, low blood pressure)
  • Decreased urine output
  • Upset stomach

If you use zinc supplements correctly, though, you won’t need to worry about these side effects. All that being said, you’re probably wondering what the best zinc supplement is. Let’s look into that now.

Our Picks For The Best Zinc Supplement

I’ve chosen five of the most popular zinc supplements on the market to review. Let’s see how they compare and hopefully you’ll be able to make a decision about which one you’d like to try.

Quality

Price

Our rating

Pure Encapsulations Hypoallergenic Supplement contains 60 15 mg zinc picolinate tablets. As mentioned above, zinc picolinate is a chelated form of zinc, which is easily absorbed.

Pure Encapsulations lives up to its name. Their ingredients are pure—non-GMO certified, vegetarian-friendly, no additives and no magnesium stearate (yay!). The company has a quality assurance program which includes third-party lab reviews and careful ingredient sourcing. Now, this is a company I can really trust.

What I find amazing about this supplement is that there’s no coating, but users say it is easy to swallow. They also praise it for giving them energy, boosting their immune system, and helping with hypothyroidism.

The only negative aspect of this supplement is the price (although, it is slightly cheaper than Garden of Life’s zinc supplement). However, you do have to pay for high quality these days.

Pros


  • Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free
  • NSF-GMP registered
  • Zinc picolinate
  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • No artificial additives (such as binders or fillers), non-GMO
  • No magnesium stearate
  • No coating but still small and easy to swallow

Cons


  • High price

Quality

Price

Our rating

Garden of Life’s raw zinc supplement contains 60 15mg tablets. They are pretty pricey, so let’s break down what kind of quality you’re getting with these.

Garden of Life is certified USDA Organic, so you can expect pure, high quality ingredients. This zinc supplement contains a vegetable blend (containing 17 organically-grown vegetables) and a trace mineral blend (containing 75 trace minerals to add antioxidants, vitamins and nutrient cofactors). This makes it a great choice if you don’t eat as many veggies as you should!

It also contains vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. The vitamin is an antioxidant, which fights off oxidative stress (source).

Users say that this product is great for sensitive stomachs (since it comes in low dosages and has a probiotic blend for digestive support). It also helps treat colds and gets rid of acne.

The only thing I don’t like about this product is the price! Yes, it’s a high quality product (being certified non-GMO etc.), but it’s four times the price of other zinc supplements.

Pros


  • Non-GMO, USDA Organic
  • Kosher
  • Raw (no binders, fillers, artificial colors etc.)
  • Certified vegan
  • Includes vitamin C for added immune system health
  • Includes probiotic and enzyme blend for added digestive support
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free

Cons


  • High price
  • Contains soy-based vitamin E

Quality

Price

Our rating

This zinc gluconate supplement, by Nature’s Bounty, contains 100 50-mg tablets. Again, this is a pretty high dosage for zinc, so unless a high-dosage supplement is recommended by your doctor, I would avoid this particular supplement.

If you do require a high dosage, though, Nature’s Bounty is a decent brand. It meets GMP standards and does not use artificial colors or flavors. It’s also vegetarian-friendly.

Users say it helps with acne. However, some complain it caused nausea and was hard to swallow. I find that odd since it contains magnesium stearate (which is used to coat tablets).

Pros


  • Zinc in the form of zinc gluconate (high absorption)
  • Non-GMO
  • No sugar, milk, wheat, gluten or sodium
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • Great price

Cons


  • Contains magnesium stearate and stearic acid
  • Dosage may be too high for some
  • Hard to swallow, chalky

Quality

Price

Our rating

Nature Made offers a zinc supplement containing 100 30mg tablets. Again, the zinc is in the form of zinc gluconate—and that’s a good thing.

I like that this product is USP-verified and contains no preservatives or gluten.

Users say it is easy to swallow, helps with acne and prevents colds. The price is decent, but nothing to write home about.

Like all the other supplements so far (except Garden of Life), this one also contains magnesium stearate. Unfortunately, that ingredient is so commonplace, it’s difficult to find supplements without it.

Pros


  • Zinc as zinc gluconate (high absorption)
  • USP-tested
  • No preservatives and no artificial flavors or colors
  • Gluten-free
  • Easy to swallow

Cons


  • Contains magnesium stearate and stearic acid

Quality

Price

Our rating

NOW Foods offers 250 50mg zinc tablets (it is zinc in the form of zinc gluconate). This form of zinc is also well absorbed by our bodies. The price for this particular brand is amazing; I wasn’t able to find a better deal.

NOW Foods is a highly certified company, being non-GMO certified, Kosher approved and in full compliance with the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (source). This gives me the peace of mind in knowing that my supplement isn’t contaminated (or has any hidden dangers). The supplement is also safe for those with allergies and those with strict vegetarian diets.

One downside to this product is that it contains magnesium stearate. This is, unfortunately, a common ingredient in supplements (as you’ll see below). It (along with stearic acid) is used for its lubricating properties. Magnesium stearate (formed from magnesium and stearic acid) has potentially harmful effects, as some studies have shown that stearic acid suppresses T-cells (source). Although the amount of magnesium stearate isn’t high in this supplement, it’s still there. So, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the risk or not.

What do the users of this product say? Well, the majority of users praise the product, saying it helps with acne, hair loss, sinus infections and increased energy. However, some say it causes nausea and that’s likely because of the high dosage. I would only recommend using this much zinc if your doctor has advised you to do so. It’s also important not to take zinc supplements on an empty stomach.

Pros


  • Small, easy to swallow
  • Sugar-free, salt-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Kosher
  • Manufactured in facility which follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Made from zinc gluconate (high absorption)
  • Excellent price
  • Vegetarian formula

Cons


  • Contains magnesium stearate
  • Dosage may be too high for some individuals

Conclusion

Based on its quality and what we know about zinc supplements (the absorption and side effects of the different forms), I will have to say that the best zinc supplement out there is Pure Encapsulations Hypoallergenic Supplement.

It is one of the few zinc supplements which doesn’t contain the harmful additive, magnesium stearate. Yet, even without this coating, it is still easy to swallow (which is important for many people, including myself).

On top of that, the company is in compliance with GMP and their ingredients are clean (non-GMO, no preservatives, no artificial colors etc.). There is nothing more I can ask for in a zinc supplement. Yes, I wish the price was a bit lower, but at least I know I will definitely get my money’s worth. After all, safety is more important than saving a few dollars.

Selena Singh
 

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