The 10 Best Zinc Supplements of 2020
While there are many food sources of zinc, including meat and shellfish, some people may be at a higher risk of not getting enough zinc in their diets.
For example, those with inadequate access to food, pregnant or breastfeeding women, vegetarians and vegans, people with gastrointestinal disorders, and individuals taking certain medications like diuretics and anticonvulsants may benefit from a zinc supplement.
The zinc supplements in this review are all manufactured by reputable companies that follow Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), use high quality ingredients, and test for purity and quality.
Here are the 10 best zinc supplements to help you meet your nutritional needs.
A Note on Price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($ to $$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher price range.
Generally, prices range from $0.08–$1.39 per serving, or $5.99–$38.90 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
- $ = under $0.25 per serving
- $ = $0.25–$0.50 per serving
- $$ = over $0.50 per serving
Note that the serving sizes vary. Some supplements require two capsules per serving, while the serving size for others may be 1 teaspoon (5 mL), 1 mL, or one capsule, tablet, or lozenge.
1. Best Overall: Thorne Zinc Picolinate
Thorne Research is a supplement company that has its own dedicated scientists, labs, and research facilities for nutrition supplements.
All of their products are made in a lab that meets regulations and standards set by NSF International and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which is a regulatory body in Australia that's responsible for assessing the safety of supplements.
Furthermore, their products are NSF Certified for Sport. This means that the products are tested to ensure the absence of more than 200 substances banned by many major athletic organizations.
Thorne Research's Zinc Picolinate is one of the best zinc supplements on the market due to the company's high quality standards, purity of ingredients, and form of zinc used.
Older research suggests that zinc picolinate may be one of the easiest forms of zinc for your body to digest and absorb.
One tablet of this supplement provides 30 mg of zinc picolinate. For best results take one tablet per day, or as recommended by your healthcare provider.
2. Best Chelated: NOW Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels
Chelated zinc is a type of zinc supplement that uses a chelating agent to help your body absorb zinc more easily.
While there are several chelated zinc supplements on the market, one of the best options is NOW Foods' Zinc Glycinate softgels.
Each softgel contains 30 mg of zinc glycinate — a form of zinc that human and animal studies suggest may be better absorbed than other types of zinc.
All NOW Foods supplements are certified by Underwriters Laboratories and follow GMP to ensure the quality and accuracy of their products. Additionally, these supplements tend to be more affordable than many other high quality brands.
3–4. Best Budget Option: Nature’s Way
Nature's Way produces high quality supplements that are more affordable than many other brands on the market.
All of their supplements are manufactured in facilities that NSF has certified as meeting GMP requirements, which include a set of guidelines to ensure accuracy, quality, and purity of products.
In addition, their products are non-GMO, organic, and TRU-ID certified. TRU-ID certification is a relatively new independent testing program that uses DNA to verify the authenticity of ingredients in supplements.
For zinc products, Nature's Way offers zinc chelate capsules and zinc lozenges, both of which are budget-friendly.
3. Nature's Way Zinc Chelate Tablets
These zinc chelate capsules are gluten-free and provide 30 mg per capsule.
For best results, adults and adolescents over the age of 14 should take one capsule daily with food, or as recommended by your healthcare provider.
4. Nature's Way Zinc Lozenges
For those interested in lozenges, each of Nature's Way's Zinc Lozenges provides 23 mg of zinc, as well as 100 mg of vitamin C and 20 mg of Echinacea purpurea.
Taking too much zinc can have adverse effects on your health and may interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. It's important that you check with your healthcare provider before taking high dose zinc supplements to ensure safety.
5. Best Vegan Option: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
While it's not always obvious, some supplements can contain animal-derived ingredients, making the product unsuitable for vegans.
Some commonly used ingredients that aren't vegan-friendly include digestive enzymes like lipase, caprylic acid from milk, gelatin, and magnesium stearate, which is often pork-derived.
Garden of Life is a whole-foods-based supplement brand with products that are certified organic and non-GMO verified.
Their Vitamin Code Raw Zinc is a good option for vegans, as it's third-party tested to ensure the product is vegan, as well as gluten-free.
In addition to providing 30 mg of plant-based zinc, each serving also contains vitamin C, a raw organic fruit and vegetable blend, and live probiotics and enzymes to support healthy digestion.
It's recommended that adults take one serving of 2 capsules per day with or without meals. For those who have difficulty swallowing pills, the capsules can also be opened to pour the contents into a glass of water or other beverage.
6–7. Best Liquid Formulations
For those who have difficulty swallowing pills, liquid forms of zinc may be better tolerated.
6. Metagenics Zinc Drink
Metagenics is a supplement company devoted to transparency and quality. Each ingredient and supplement batch is tested for quality, and you can even access a detailed testing report for the specific supplement you're looking to buy.
As part of their quality assurance, all Metagenics supplements are USP-verified and meet NSF and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) safety and quality regulations.
Their Zinc Drink liquid supplement contains only water and 15 mg of zinc sulfate per serving, making it free of any additives and preservatives.
For best results, take 1 teaspoon (5 mL) per day of the Zinc Drink between meals. While you can take the supplement on its own, it can also be mixed into a glass of water.
7. Peak Performance Raw Ionic Liquid Zinc
Peak Performance supplements are made in the United States and developed for busy athletes and professionals.
In addition to being free of major allergens, including soy, dairy, wheat, egg, shellfish, and peanuts, Peak Performance's Raw Ionic Liquid Zinc is also vegan-friendly.
By running zinc through a high pressure, low heat process, the zinc particles in this liquid supplement are very small in size, which may make it easier for your body to absorb.
One full dropper provides 15 mg of zinc sulfate — a form of zinc that has been shown to help prevent zinc deficiency, reduce symptoms of severe acne, and possibly help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (6Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
All Peak Performance supplements undergo third-party testing for quality and accuracy. They're also manufactured following Food and Drug Administration (FDA), GMP, and NSF regulations and standards.
Adults should take one full dropper (1 mL) once a day on an empty stomach, or use as directed by your healthcare provider.
8. Best Lozenges: Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges
Zinc lozenges are small tablets that are meant to dissolve slowly in your mouth. They're typically taken for short periods to help reduce the symptoms and duration of the common cold.
In fact, one review found that consuming a dose of 80–92 mg of zinc from zinc lozenges per day helped reduce the duration of the common cold by up to 33%.
Life Extension has been making high quality supplements for over 40 years.
In addition to being manufactured in an NSF-registered GMP facility, each product has a certificate of analysis that's available for consumers to confirm the quality and accuracy of a specific product.
Adults can take 1 lozenge every 2 hours up to 8 times a day. However, it's not recommended to consume these lozenges for more than 3 days in a row. Also, note that taking this supplement 8 times per day will greatly exceed the daily UL of 40 mg.
9. Best Organic: NutriGold Zinc Gold
If you're looking for an organic zinc supplement, NutriGold's Zinc Gold is one of the best options out there.
Each capsule contains 15 mg of whole-foods-based zinc that's derived from an organic sprouted blend, which the supplement claims may be gentler on your stomach.
Additionally, NutritGold's supplements are certified organic by SCS Global Services, an official partner of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that sets sustainability, quality, and organic standards.
Each product is also third-party tested, as well as non-GMO and vegan certified.
Adults should take 1 capsule daily, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
10. Best Gluten-Free: Pure Encapsulations Zinc
If you're looking for a gluten-free zinc supplement, Pure Encapsulations is one of your best options.
The products are not only made in a facility that's NSF-registered GMP but also certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). Plus, they contain zinc picolinate to optimize digestion and absorption.
For optimal results, it's recommended to take one 30-mg zinc picolinate capsule daily with food.
How to Choose Zinc Supplements
When choosing a zinc supplement, it's important to consider the type of zinc, dosage, and supplement form.
There are several types of zinc supplements. Some, such as zinc picolinate, may be better absorbed, while zinc acetate may be more effective at shortening the duration of the common cold.
As for dosage, the recommended daily dosage for adults is typically 15–30 mg of elemental zinc per day. Elemental zinc is generally the amount listed on the label of your supplement.
Due to potential side effects of excess zinc, it's best not to exceed 40 mg per day unless under medical supervision.
Taking too much zinc can cause adverse side effects, such as decreased immune function, low copper levels, and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Regarding the form, zinc supplements are available as capsules, lozenges, and liquids. For those who are unable or prefer not to swallow pills, liquid forms are likely a better option.
Before buying any supplement, it's important to research high quality, trustworthy brands to ensure both safety and accuracy.
Look for supplements that are produced by reputable manufactures and free of large amounts of added ingredients like fillers, additives, and preservatives.
A good way to ensure the quality of a product is to look for ones that have been certified by a third-party company, such as NSF International or Underwriters Labs.
The Bottom Line
Zinc is an essential nutrient that you need to get enough of in your diet. However, as not everyone is able to meet their need through foods alone, supplements can help reduce the risk of a zinc deficiency.
Of course, not all supplements are created equal. It's important to look for high quality products that have been tested to ensure quality and accuracy.
If you're concerned about your zinc intake, it's worth speaking with your healthcare provider to see if a zinc supplement is a good option, as well as to determine an optimal dose.
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By Ana Maldonado-Contreras
- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
- Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
- New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.
You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
How Do Resident Bacteria Keep You Healthy?<p>Our immune defense is part of a complex biological response against harmful pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. However, because our bodies are inhabited by trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, virus and fungi, activation of our immune response is tightly regulated to distinguish between harmful and helpful microbes.</p><p>Our bacteria are spectacular companions diligently helping prime our immune system defenses to combat infections. A seminal study found that mice treated with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria in the gut exhibited an impaired immune response. These animals had low counts of virus-fighting white blood cells, weak antibody responses and poor production of a protein that is vital for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1019378108" target="_blank">combating viral infection and modulating the immune response</a>.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184976" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In another study</a>, mice were fed <em>Lactobacillus</em> bacteria, commonly used as probiotic in fermented food. These microbes reduced the severity of influenza infection. The <em>Lactobacillus</em>-treated mice did not lose weight and had only mild lung damage compared with untreated mice. Similarly, others have found that treatment of mice with <em>Lactobacillus</em> protects against different <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/srep04638" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subtypes of</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">influenza</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">virus</a> and human respiratory syncytial virus – the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39602-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">major cause of viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children</a>.</p>
Chronic Disease and Microbes<p>Patients with chronic illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease exhibit a hyperactive immune system that fails to recognize a harmless stimulus and is linked to an altered gut microbiome.</p><p>In these chronic diseases, the gut microbiome lacks bacteria that activate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">immune cells</a> that block the response against harmless bacteria in our guts. Such alteration of the gut microbiome is also observed in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1002601107" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">babies delivered by cesarean section</a>, individuals consuming a poor <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12820" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">diet</a> and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11053" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elderly</a>.</p><p>In the U.S., 117 million individuals – about half the adult population – <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">suffer from Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or a combination of them</a>. That suggests that half of American adults carry a faulty microbiome army.</p><p>Research in my laboratory focuses on identifying gut bacteria that are critical for creating a balanced immune system, which fights life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, while tolerating the beneficial bacteria in and on us.</p><p>Given that diet affects the diversity of bacteria in the gut, <a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/melody-trial-info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">my lab studies show how diet can be used</a> as a therapy for chronic diseases. Using different foods, people can shift their gut microbiome to one that boosts a healthy immune response.</p><p>A fraction of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, develop severe complications that require hospitalization in intensive care units. What do many of those patients have in common? <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Old age</a> and chronic diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p><p><a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease</a>, all of which are linked to poor nutrition. Thus, it is not a coincidence that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6933e1.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these groups have suffered more deaths from COVID-19</a> compared with whites. This is the case not only in the U.S. but also <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/blacks-in-britain-are-four-times-as-likely-to-die-of-coronavirus-as-whites-data-show/2020/05/07/2dc76710-9067-11ea-9322-a29e75effc93_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in Britain</a>.</p>
Discovering Microbes That Predict COVID-19 Severity<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired me to shift my research and explore the role of the gut microbiome in the overly aggressive immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection.</p><p>My colleagues and I have hypothesized that critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients with conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease exhibit an altered gut microbiome that aggravates <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-may-help-reduce-risk-of-deadly-covid-19-complication-ards-136922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acute respiratory distress syndrome</a>.</p><p>Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening lung injury, in SARS-CoV-2 patients is thought to develop from a <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cytogfr.2020.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fatal overreaction of the immune response</a> called a <a href="https://theconversation.com/blocking-the-deadly-cytokine-storm-is-a-vital-weapon-for-treating-covid-19-137690" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cytokine storm</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">that causes an uncontrolled flood</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of immune cells into the lungs</a>. In these patients, their own uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, rather than the virus itself, causes the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05991-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">severe lung injury and multiorgan failures</a> that lead to death.</p><p>Several studies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.08.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">described in one recent review</a> have identified an altered gut microbiome in patients with COVID-19. However, identification of specific bacteria within the microbiome that could predict COVID-19 severity is lacking.</p><p>To address this question, my colleagues and I recruited COVID-19 hospitalized patients with severe and moderate symptoms. We collected stool and saliva samples to determine whether bacteria within the gut and oral microbiome could predict COVID-19 severity. The identification of microbiome markers that can predict the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 disease is key to help prioritize patients needing urgent treatment.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.05.20249061" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">We demonstrated</a>, in a paper which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the composition of the gut microbiome is the strongest predictor of COVID-19 severity compared to patient's clinical characteristics commonly used to do so. Specifically, we identified that the presence of a bacterium in the stool – called <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em>– was a robust predictor of COVID-19 severity. Not surprisingly, <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> has been associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2011.05.035" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chronic</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61172-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inflammation</a>.</p><p><em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> collected from feces can be grown outside of the body in clinical laboratories. Thus, an <em>E. faecalis</em> test might be a cost-effective, rapid and relatively easy way to identify patients who are likely to require more supportive care and therapeutic interventions to improve their chances of survival.</p><p>But it is not yet clear from our research what is the contribution of the altered microbiome in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent study has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.11.416180" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an imbalance in immune cells</a> called <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/imr.12170" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">T regulatory cells that are critical to immune balance</a>.</p><p>Bacteria from the gut microbiome are responsible for the <a href="https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.30916.001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">proper activation</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of those T-regulatory</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2016.36" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cells</a>. Thus, researchers like me need to take repeated patient stool, saliva and blood samples over a longer time frame to learn how the altered microbiome observed in COVID-19 patients can modulate COVID-19 disease severity, perhaps by altering the development of the T-regulatory cells.</p><p>As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome. It is also important to design culturally sensitive dietary interventions for Black and Latinx communities. While a good-quality diet might not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can treat the underlying conditions related to its severity.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-maldonado-contreras-1152969" target="_blank">Ana Maldonado-Contreras</a> is an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Ana Maldonado-Contreras receives funding from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and her work has been supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. She received The Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is also member of the Diversity Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-healthy-microbiome-builds-a-strong-immune-system-that-could-help-defeat-covid-19-145668" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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