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.
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
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.
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.
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.