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A Nutrition PhD Narrowed Down The Best Zinc Supplements So You Don’t Have To

Image by Valentina Barreto / Stocksy

May 20, 2022

With many American adults failing to reach their daily zinc intake needs, it’s safe to say that this mineral is a gap in many people’s diets. Often under-consumed, zinc is an essential mineral that can have significant immune health and whole-body benefits.* But because your body cannot synthesize zinc on its own, it’s important to include it within your diet or supplement routine to hit your intake goals.

Why does zinc matter?

Not only does zinc play a key role in our immune system running smoothly, but it also supports the function of hundreds of enzymes in the body, promotes healthy skin and bones, and delivers widespread antioxidant and contains anti-inflammatory benefits.*

Considering its massive scope for human health, it’s too bad we’re not consuming enough of this essential mineral. Each day, “considering food sources alone, 15% of U.S. adults are not getting enough zinc. Because this statistic comes from nationally representative data, that means that approximately 50 million Americans have an unaddressed zinc gap,” mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN previously explained.

In the day to day, women require 8 milligrams of zinc, while men need 11 milligrams to reach their needs. However, these nutritional requirements rise to 11 and 12 milligrams of daily zinc during pregnancy and lactation. Again, these levels are simply your baseline needs for zinc sufficiency (i.e., to avoid zinc deficiency).

As zinc is critical for your immune system function and overall well-being, it may be worth adding a supplement into the mix to promote resilience. After all, this essential trace mineral even helps with basic (but critical) things like DNA and protein synthesis, plus the ability of our trillions of cells to divide and grow.*

Not sure where to start in choosing a zinc supplement that fits into your routine and lifestyle? Here are our favorites.

What to look for in a quality zinc supplement.

When you’re choosing a zinc supplement, it’s important to consider a variety of criteria to ensure that you’re making the most educated, healthiest choice for your body. If you’re still not sold on which option to choose, below we outlined the top things to look for in selecting a solid zinc supplement, guided by Ph.D. nutrition scientist and dietitian Ferira:

1.

Dose

Knowing how much zinc is included in whichever supplement you choose is vital in determining the efficacy. Starting point daily zinc needs fall between 8 and 11 milligrams (8 mg for women and 11 mg for men), so seeking an option that provides at least that much will make the addition worthwhile. Considering upper limit recommendations is also important: For most adults, it is not recommended to consume more than 40 milligrams of zinc each day for adults (combined between food and supplements) for a prolonged period of time.

2.

Form

There are multiple forms, aka complexes, of zinc (bisglycinate, sulfate, gluconate, citrate, piconalate, acetate, etc.) and each offers varying levels of absorption into the body. Zinc bisglycinate is thought to be one of the best-absorbed options while being gentle on the digestive tract, but each of the aforementioned iterations are also decently absorbed as well. That being said, Ferira notes, “While more clinical trials in humans will be useful to fully suss the bioavailability story out, the case for the chelated amino acid form (bisglycinate) is strong.”

3.

Delivery format

How you’re getting your zinc matters when it comes down to the minutiae ingredients, but if you’re looking for the “cleanest” option, Ferira suggests capsules, as they generally contain the fewest additives. Gummies and chews may hold unnecessary amounts of sugar, and other additives such as colorants and dyes. Unless you have trouble swallowing pills or are choosing a supplement your child will actually take, it’s best to follow the rule of thumb that the fewer added ingredients (i.e., the “Other ingredients” section of your supplement label), the better.

Additionally, keep an eye out for artificial colors and flavors. Gluten-free, GMO-free, dairy-free, and soy-free labels are all good indicators of a well-made supplement.

4.

Other nutrients & phytonutrients

Yes, zinc is an essential mineral, but it is also well-complemented by other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support your immune system and overall health.* Therefore, a smartly formulated immune complex or comprehensive multivitamin that contains zinc and other vitamins, such as D3 and C, as well as complementary minerals, plant bioactives, and other functional ingredients may be useful while featuring a significant dose of zinc, so you can support your nutritional and targeted health needs.*

and other bioactives may be useful while featuring a significant dose of zinc, so you can support your nutritional needs.*

How we picked:

Zn mineral + plant bioactives

While zinc (Zn) is a mineral, most of our supplement selections feature plant-based ingredients that cater to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and offer your body a wide range of nutrients and phytonutrients.

Science-backed formulas

Each brand on our list is created with science-backed formulas to contribute to or cover your daily zinc needs, supporting nutritional sufficiency and diverse areas of health.*

Effective doses

We selected products that offer an effective dose of zinc per serving for adults and children, so you can trust your supplement is actually doing its job.

Quality commitment

You want a dietary supplement product you can trust. We made our selections to support brands that prioritize quality control and assurance to create clean zinc supplements with minimal added ingredients.

mbg’s picks for best zinc supplements of 2022:

Best immune support complex with zinc: mindbodygreen immune support+

immune support+

VIEW ON mindbodygreen | $60

Pros

Gentle and bioavailable ingredientsImmune-essential nutrients + plant bioactivesSustainable and protective amber glass bottle

Cons

Vegetarian (not for strict vegan diets)

Form

Capsule

For targeting immune health, a daily need, mbg’s immune support+ is the ideal supplement to strengthen your body’s natural defenses and support healthy immune cell development and function. With highly absorbed zinc bisglycinate as one of the hero immune-essential nutrients alongside vitamins C and D3, plus bioactives quercetin phytosome and beta glucan, this breakthrough formula bolsters antioxidant power and immune resilience.*

Best vision complex with zinc: Pure Encapsulations EyeProtect Basics

EyeProtect Basics

VIEW ON amazon.com | $25VIEW ON pureformulas.com | $25

Pros

Rich source of antioxidantsNutrients + phytonutrientsVegan

Cons

Plastic bottle

Form

Capsule

A targeted supplement can support multiple areas of health and organ systems, your eyes included. Pure Encapsulations’ EyeProtect Basics not only contains a high dose of chelated zinc (25 milligrams), but also other important micronutrient antioxidants like vitamins C and E as well as copper and phytonutrient carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (from marigold flowers!) which are known to support macular function, eye health, and vision.*

Best beauty complex with zinc: Nutrafol Hair Wellness from Within

Hair Wellness from Within

VIEW ON amazon.com | $84VIEW ON Nutrafol | $79

Pros

Convenient multi-ingredient complexPositive anecdotal support from reviewsNutrient, botanical extract, and bioactive combo

Cons

PriceyFour capsules per servingPlastic container

Form

Capsule

In addition to 25 milligrams of zinc per serving, Nutrafol also boasts an array of active ingredients such as biotin and vitamin E that support healthy hair and target thinning to promote stronger and thicker strands from the root. While the vitamins and minerals dominate the formula in terms of potency, the two built-in blends also offer up modest doses of bioactives like marine collagen and hyaluronic acid, plus extracts from turmeric, palm, black pepper, and more. This is a clean combination of ingredients is formulated without dairy, gluten, and artificial additives.*

Best bone complex with zinc: Nature Made Calcium Magnesium Zinc

Calcium Magnesium Zinc

VIEW ON amazon.com | $19VIEW ON target.com | $16

Pros

Bone-centric mineral complexAffordableUSP verification

Cons

Longer tablet additive listPlastic bottle

Form

Tablet

Even as an adult it’s important to consume the correct mix of vitamins and minerals to promote bone health throughout life. Focused on your musculoskeletal system, this supplement contains 333 milligrams of calcium (plus a 200 IU hint of vitamin D3 to support calcium’s absorption), 133 milligrams of magnesium, and 5 milligrams of zinc for a balanced formula to support strong bones and teeth. While the mineral forms (calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide, and zinc sulfate) do not boast the highest possible bioavailability, they are still absorbed and helpful. An added bonus? The USP seal and price tag.*

Best zinc bisglycinate: Nordic Naturals Zinc Glycinate

Zinc Glycinate

VIEW ON amazon.com | $13VIEW ON iherb.com | $13

Pros

Gentle and high bioavailabilityVegan

Cons

Plastic packagingJust zinc

Form

Capsule

Zinc bisglycinate, the amino acid (i.e., glycine) chelate format, is perhaps the most well-absorbed form of zinc. In this supplement offering, Nordic Naturals offers a straightforward option for people seeking zinc all by itself. This high-potency option with 20 milligrams of zinc per capsule supports overall wellness, from immunity (no secret there), to cellular health and enzyme function. The more easily absorbed your zinc is, the more benefits you’ll be able to reap so keep this in mind when choosing your supplement. Not to mention zinc bisglycinate is more gentle on the gut!*

Best budget-friendly option: Solgar Zinc Citrate

Zinc Citrate

VIEW ON amazon.com | $9VIEW ON vitaminshoppe.com | $10

Pros

AffordableVeganSustainable packaging

Cons

Stearate additivesHigh zinc dose (take with care)

Form

Capsule

Solgar’s supplement is a vegan option that contains 30 milligrams of zinc citrate, supporting healthy digestion and immune function. At 273% of the daily value (which is 11 milligrams, FYI), this potent dose of zinc should be taken with care and probably in partnership with your healthcare provider. Zinc citrate is a zinc mineral complex with citric acid. This form is effectively absorbed into the body to help with zinc deficiency issues in the short term.*

Pros

Zinc + organic botanical blendVeganCertified B corporation

Cons

Negligible (small) veggie dose

Form

Tablet

This unique formula pairs 22.5 milligrams of zinc bisglycinate with a small blend of organic vegetables. While zinc is the clear mainstay of this product, the modest array of powdered veggies (spinach, parsley, carrot, broccoli, and beetroot) help support overall well-being while offering a natural source of phytonutrients. This supplement is also certified vegan and gluten-free if those dietary restraints play into your selection.*

Best with organic complex: Pure Synergy Zinc Complex

Zinc Complex

VIEW ON vitacost.com | $24

Pros

Features organic ingredientsOne-capsule serving sizeZinc + whole food complex

Cons

Contains soy (food allergen)

Form

Capsule

Created with organic vegetables and mushrooms while also delivering 15 milligrams of zinc and 25 milligrams of vitamin C from the camu camu berry, this supplement is innovative on the plant front. Just one capsule is all it takes to reap the benefits of the essential zinc mineral, as well as a variety of micro doses of organic veggies like spinach, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, and even collard greens.*

Best liquid zinc: Zuma Nutrition Liposomal Guava Leaf Zinc Tonic

Liposomal Guava Leaf Zinc Tonic

VIEW ON Zuma Nutrition | $50

Pros

Unique pump delivery formatPlant-based formulaSome organic ingredients

Cons

PriceyLack of transparency regarding low-dose zinc dose5 pumps per serving

Form

Liquid

If you aren’t big on taking your supplements in pill form, this guava and lemon tonic may be more up your alley. Offering both immune-supporting and antioxidant properties, this liquid supplement is delivered via pump and features myriad other botanicals and herbs (like lavender, rosemary, amla, ginger, and more) that elevate the formula. The labeling could be improved to explicitly state the zinc dose delivered, but from our research on guava’s nutrient composition, 875 milligrams of guava leaf would offer approximately 2 milligrams of zinc per serving (5 pumps), so a lower dose.*

Best lozenge: Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges

Enhanced Zinc Lozenges

VIEW ON amazon.com | $9VIEW ON lifeextension.com | $5

Pros

Peppermint flavorGood for people with trouble swallowingVegetarian

Cons

4 grams of added sugarsPlastic packaging

Form

Lozenge

Life Extension’s Enhanced Zinc Lozenges are peppermint-flavored, to make getting your daily dose of zinc tastier than ever. To support your immune system year-round, this lozenge contains 18.75 milligrams of zinc acetate per serving to help enhance your body’s natural defenses. While fun to switch up your zinc routine at times, it’s important to note that each lozenge is 20 calories and nets 5 grams of carbs, which includes 4 grams of added sugars from dextrose.*

Best gummy: Nature’s Way Zinc Gummies

Zinc Gummies

VIEW ON amazon.com | $11VIEW ON iherb.com | $15

Pros

Family serving info (for children and adults)Enjoyable mixed berry flavorClean, vegetarian gummy formula

Cons

20 calories (in adult serving)3 grams of added sugars (in adult serving)

For adults, each serving of two vegetarian pectin gummies delivers 22 milligrams of zinc (as zinc citrate). This tasty immune-supporting supplement will make an effortless addition to your day. For children nine and up, their serving size is one gummy, which comes in at 11 milligrams of zinc. It’s best to consult a healthcare practitioner before adding to your child’s regular routine. Organic tapioca syrup and cane sugar are the sugar sources, while natural flavors and colorants (from vegetable and fruit juice) round out the ingredient list.*

Best multivitamin with zinc: mindbodygreen ultimate multivitamin+

ultimate multivitamin+

VIEW ON mindbodygreen | $70

Pros

Optimizes dose, gentleness, and bioavailabilityClean, vegan formula for women and menSustainable and protective amber glass jar

Cons

Higher price point

Form

Capsule

With multivitamins, you get what you pay for. With 11 milligrams of zinc (in its optimized zinc bisglycinate chelate form, so it’s both bioavailable and gentle on the stomach), mindbodygreen’s ultimate multivitamin+ meets your daily zinc needs (100% DV), and so much more. In just two capsules daily, this high-potency, comprehensive formula delivers 33 premium ingredients, including 14 vitamins, 13 minerals, and 6 botanical bioactives for longevity. All-in-all, this vegan multi designed for women and men supports immune, brain, heart, bone, muscle, beauty, eye, and whole-body health.*

Best for kids: Mary Ruth’s Organic Toddler Ionic Zinc Liquid Drops

Organic Toddler Ionic Zinc Liquid Drops

VIEW ON amazon.com | $17

Pros

Useful pediatric doseUSDA certified organicNatural berry flavor

Cons

Larger serving size required

Form

Liquid

If you’re looking to help your little one get some added immune support in a tasty way, Mary Ruth’s Organic Toddler Ionic Zinc drops are a solid choice. This clean liquid formula contains an excellent source (3 milligrams) of zinc in three pumps and will help your child meet their zinc needs to support healthy development and growth. While marketed for toddlers, the 3-milligram dose of zinc would be useful for ages 1 to 13. Vegan, sugar-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO, this organic supplement is a well-rounded addition to your child’s routine.*

FAQs about zinc

Is 50 milligrams of zinc too much?

Seeing as your daily zinc needs start at 8 to 11 milligrams, and risk for toxicity begin at levels higher than 40 milligrams, you would only consider taking mega doses of zinc for a prolonged period of time under the supervision of a medical professional. In fact, regularly absorbing such a high volume of this mineral could negatively impact other essential minerals, contributing to an increased risk of copper deficiency over time, so it’s not advised.

Is it OK to take a zinc supplement every day?

Zinc is an essential mineral that cannot be synthesized by your body alone, so taking a zinc supplement or consuming enough zinc from your diet each day (or combining approaches, since diet and high-quality supplements are both useful) is completely healthy (and encouraged). That being said, you should not regularly be exceeding the tolerable upper intake level (i.e., 40 milligrams daily).

Can I take vitamin C and zinc together?

Of course you want to ensure that zinc will mix well with the existing supplements in your routine, and vitamin C is another micronutrient that can be combined without any concerns. In fact, many multivitamins and targeted immunity complexes contain both vitamin C and zinc, including mbg’s immune support+. Both of these essential nutrients help in supporting your immune system without crossing wires, allowing you to feel your best.*

The takeaway.

High-quality supplements are an excellent, complementary addition to your diet in order to meet specific nutritional needs. Especially considering zinc cannot be created by the body, it’s important to find a quality supplement that can effectively support daily zinc requirements while also nourishing and protect your overall well-being.*

Whether you’re choosing a specialized complex, complete multivitamin, or pure zinc formulation, make sure to pair your supplement with a healthy lifestyle, you can reap the full, wide-ranging benefits of this vital mineral.*

Talking to your doctor or another qualified healthcare professional is always a good idea before adding any new supplements into your regimen, but our list is a great jumping off point for choosing a well-formulated option to achieve your specific needs and goals.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.

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