Zinc 101: What You Need to Know (2022)

Zinc is a powerful immune nutrient known for its benefits for providing immune health support and inflammation reduction as well as for improving cold and respiratory symptoms, wound healing, acne reduction, and lowering the risk of age-related diseases. Research on atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus suggests that zinc deficiency may contribute to low-grade systemic inflammation.

Even more popular at the moment is the role of zinc and the potential benefits against COVID-19. This is probably one of the reasons that's driving the demand on zinc related products. In a ConsumerLab survey of 9,647 people who use dietary supplements shows that the supplements which experienced the greatest growth in popularity in 2020 were those being promoted to prevent or treat infection with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Zinc supplements achieved the highest growth with 13.5% points.

Does zinc help treat COVID 19? How does zinc boost immunity? In order to answer those questions, there are many zinc studies underway and you can review the status of these trials on clinicaltrials.gov

zinc supplement

Contents

1. Types of Zinc
2. What is the Difference Between Zinc Citrate, Zinc Picolinate, Zinc Glycinate and Zinc Gluconate?
3. Zinc Types and Elemental Zinc Amount
4. Best Form of Zinc to Take
5. Benefits of Zinc
6. Zinc Deficiency - Groups at High Risk
7. Zinc and Covid 19
8. Toxicity and Precautions
9. FAQ
10. Best Zinc Supplement: Online Shopping Guide

1. Types of Zinc

There are several types of zinc supplements. Supplements contain several forms of zinc, including zinc gluconate, zinc citrate and zinc picolinate. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. 

Choosing a zinc supplement can be confusing because there are so many different types.
  • zinc acetate
  • zinc angstrom
  • zinc carbonate
  • zinc carnosine
  • zinc chelate
  • zinc chloride
  • zinc citrate
  • zinc glycinate
  • zinc gluconate
  • zinc lactate
  • zinc l-aspartate / zinc aspartate
  • zinc methionine & monomethionine
  • zinc orotate
  • zinc oxide
  • zinc picolinate
  • zinc sulfate

a. Chelated Zinc

Your body does not naturally digest zinc easily. To make it more bioavailable, zinc needs to be attached to another substance. Often zinc is "chelated" to organic and amino acids to increase its bioavailability. 

This form of zinc has undergone a process called chelation, whereby the organic molecules have been given an electrical charge that allows them to positively attract the charged mineral (in this case zinc). This creates a temporary increase in the complexity and concentration of the mineral within the molecule.

In other words, each molecule packs more concentrations of zinc via a process of attaching the mineral to something else, such as an amino acid. The belief is that this helps the body better absorb the mineral.

Zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate are formed when zinc is chelated to picolinic acid or gluconic acid, so the main difference between zinc gluconate and picolinate is what compound it is bound to.

i. What is chelated zinc supplement

Chelated zinc is a zinc supplement that’s easily absorbed by your body.

Because it’s difficult for your body to efficiently absorb zinc on its own, zinc is often attached to a chelating agent in supplements. A chelating agent is a substance that bonds with zinc to create a more absorbable end product.

ii. Types of chelated zinc

Chelated zinc is mainly made using one of the following compounds: amino acids or organic acids.

Amino acids
  • aspartic acid: used to make zinc aspartate
  • methionine: used to make zinc methionine
  • monomethionine: used to make zinc monomethionine
Organic acids
  • acetic acid: used to make zinc acetate
  • citric acid: used to make zinc citrate
  • gluconic acid: used to make zinc gluconate
  • orotic acid: used to make zinc orotate
  • picolinic acid: used to make zinc picolinate
Zinc supplements combining zinc with inorganic acids such as sulfates (zinc sulfate) and oxides (zinc oxide) are also available.

Best Chelated Zinc SupplementDr. Mercola Zinc Plus Selenium Dietary Supplement (Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate)

b. Zinc Citrate

This type of zinc is made when zinc is chelated with citric acid. A study found that when given as a supplement without food, zinc citrate absorption was comparable with that of zinc gluconate, and higher than zinc oxide.

Zinc citrate is the zinc salt of citric acid. This compound is well-known as a dietary supplement that is useful in preventing zinc deficiency. Typically, we take this orally as a capsule or as a tablet.

However, due to the presence of zinc, this may have a metallic taste. However, taking a small amount of beverage after taking the tablet can avoid this unusual taste. Moreover, this treatment may irritate the digestive tract, resulting in an upset stomach. Another important side effect is, we may get flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, chills, etc.

Zinc citrate is the form that's most commonly used in dental hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash to fight plaque and gingivitis.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2014 showed that zinc citrate, given as a supplement, is as well-absorbed as zinc gluconate but has a more appealing, less bitter taste. Zinc citrate is the best type of zinc for use in toothpastes and mouthwashes for dental health and as a breath freshener.
 

c. Zinc Gluconate

This is the most common over-the-counter zinc supplement that’s found in your local drug or health food store. It’s made when zinc is chelated with gluconic acid is often found in oral supplements, nasal zinc sprays or lozenges. A meta-analysis indicates that zinc gluconate lozenges were able to reduce cold duration 28 percent.

Zinc gluconate is the zinc salt of gluconic acid. We can find gluconic acid in natural sources, but for the preparation of the supplement, industries produce gluconic acid via the fermentation of glucose by Aspergillus niger or some species of fungi.

More importantly, this compound is used to treat a common cold. We can use it in lozenges to treat the cold symptoms. When considering the side effects of this compound, anosmia (loss of smell) is a reported side effect. However, this compound is relatively safe than other zinc supplements.

Some zinc supplements contain cadmium, which is chemically similar to zinc. High levels of cadmium can lead to kidney failure. Zinc gluconate contains the ​lowest cadmium levels​ of any zinc supplements, according to RXList.

How much elemental zinc in zinc gluconate? Zinc gluconate is approximately 13% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 385 mg zinc gluconate. (Examine)

d. Zinc Picolinate

This chelated form of zinc salt is made with picolinic acid and is popular for oral use to reverse zinc deficiency. One study comparing the absorption of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate shows that there’s no significant change in any of these forms, but zinc picolinate did improve zinc absorption in humans.

However the study was from 1987 and for some people there are even better options now.

According to Chris Masterjohn: 

I don’t recommend using zinc oxide or zinc picolinate. People are often surprised that I recommend against picolinate. So, in this episode (below), I explain why. 


e. Zinc Carnosine

Zinc Carnosine is a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. A prescription medicine in Japan used to heal ulcers at 75 mg twice daily, this type of zinc is said to be helpful for leaky gut and healing stomach issues. It has a reputation for being better than antibiotics at healing h. pylori, the bacteria said to be responsible for stomach ulcers.

Zinc carnosine (also known as polaprezinc; Promac; L-CAZ, or taken as a self-named supplement) is a common form of zinc supplementation and medication.

A prospective randomized clinical trial published in 2017 showed that when antibiotic treatment for H. pylori infection was combined with zinc carnosine - the eradication rate was improved without added toxicity (Ref). A smaller trial published in 1999 reflected similar findings (Ref).

Zinc carnosine can be an amazing piece of any gut repair program & it was fun to learn that it does much more too.

Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are groups of proteins that are involved in the body’s ability to respond to inflammation, immune challenges, and stress. Genes that code for HSPs are highly regarded as “longevity” genes - the more active, the better.

While Zinc may indirectly help HSP expression through the promotion of mucosal health (a healthy home for flora to bind and grow), zinc carnosine is also an antioxidant and may support HSP expression directly.

Zinc nor L-carnosine have not been shown to support HSP expression by themselves, but the combined chelate form of zinc carnosine does support HSP activity for reasons that are still unclear.

f. Zinc Orotate

Zinc orotate is zinc that has been chelated to orotic acid. The human body’s cellular membranes readily absorb this type of zinc. Research from Dr. Hans Nieper has found that orotate forms of zinc were more neutrally charged, as compared to other types of zinc. This allowed them to pass through the membranes of cells easily, leading to higher tissue concentrations of zinc. Zinc orotates contain many antioxidant properties that can protect your health while offering your cells the most readily-absorbable form of zinc on the market today.

g. Zinc Acetate

Zinc Acetate is made from zinc nitrate and acetic anhydride. Zinc acetate is another chemically-altered form of zinc and considered to be more absorbable than gluconate. This form of zinc, also known as zinc salt dihydrate and zinc diacetate, is created by adding acetic acid to zinc carbonate or zinc metal. This form may aid in reducing the duration of the common cold (PubMed), as well as offer relief for Wilson's disease, a genetic disorder whereby the body stores toxic levels of copper.

Zinc acetate is the best zinc supplement to treat the ​common cold and best for your immune system​. Findings of a study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases in 2017 recommended using acetate lozenges within 24 hours of the onset of a cold for a three-fold increase in the rate of recovery.

Zinc acetate is a form most often used to shorten the duration of the common cold, and typically comes in a lozenge. Zinc acetate is also called zinc salt dihydrate or zinc diacetate. Capsule form of zinc acetate is available by prescription only to treat Wilson’s disease.

h. Zinc Oxide

This inorganic compound of zinc is most commonly used in topical ointments for addressing minor skin conditions such as burns and irritation and also commonly used for sunscreens. It is also a common ingredient in sunscreens. This type is a non-chelated, inorganic form of zinc. 

Inorganic zinc is not as effective or useable by your body as chelated zinc sources. The results are mixed on body absorption and metabolism of this form of inorganic zinc.

i. Zinc Sulfate

Water-soluble and non-chelated, this is an inorganic form of zinc, and the results are mixed on the body absorption and metabolism. Inorganic zinc is not as effective or useable by your body as chelated zinc sources.

Cited most in scientific studies for healing HPV (human papilloma virus), one of the least expensive and most common form of zinc used today, however it has a reputation for causing stomach upset.

j. Zinc Angstrom

Angstrom refers to the size of a particle, atom or molecule. It is smaller than ionic or colloidal minerals. I contacted Angstrom Zinc is broken down to an angstrom size particle and bonded to the water molecule through reverse osmosis in liquid angstrom mineral supplements. The actual type of zinc used is zinc sulfate.

k. Zinc Carbonate

The carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid, from the rock known as smithsonite or zincspar.

l. Zinc Methionine & Monomethionine

Zinc salt with methionine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that is a constituent of most proteins.

Zinc methionine and monomethionine is sold under the patented name Opti Zinc or Opti L-Zinc. According to the manufacturer the difference between Opti Zinc and Opti L-Zinc is that Opti Zinc is synthetic methionine and Opti L-Zinc is natural methionine. The “L” version is the natural methionine, and thus more bioavailable. The natural L-methionine is the version that is approved for use in the EU (European Union). Europe almost always has stricter standards for food and supplements.

Zinc monomethionine is approximately 21% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 238 mg zinc monomethionine (Examine).


2. What is the Difference Between Zinc Citrate, Zinc Picolinate, Zinc Glycinate and Zinc Gluconate?

According to the Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital, a person supplementing with zinc will find their best options in the form of zinc citrate, zinc acetate and zinc picolinate because these absorb the best. Zinc gluconate is not among the top three, but it is absorbed better than zinc oxide. As far as cost goes, zinc sulfate is the lowest-cost option among the supplements.


Zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate are zinc salts. One key difference between zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate is that zinc picolinate is derived from picolinic acid, whereas zinc gluconate is derived from gluconic acid. Zinc picolinate is 20% elemental zinc whereas zinc gluconate has 13% of elemental zinc.

Another difference between zinc gluconate and picolinate is that zinc gluconate, along with zinc acetate, has antiviral properties. This makes it a good form for making lozenges and nasal gels that don't contribute to the amount of iron digested and absorbed by the body, but it can fight viruses infecting the nose and throat.

The Mayo Clinic explains that zinc-based lozenges and syrups can be effective if they are used within the first 24 hours of the sign of symptoms. However, be careful — use of intranasal zinc has been linked with the loss of smell.

Although different forms of zinc have different amounts of elemental zinc that can be used by the body, the National Institutes of Health explains that there is not enough research indicating whether there are any superior forms in terms of absorption, bioavailability or tolerability.

One older study — published in the June 1987 issue of Agents Actions — did look at the effectiveness of three forms of zinc supplement and may shed a little bit of light on choosing zinc glycinate versus picolinate. The study looked at only 15 healthy human subjects who were divided into four groups. Over the course of four weeks, the four groups were tested with zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc gluconate or a placebo.

Based on the zinc measurements in their hair, urine, erythrocyte and serum both before and after, zinc picolinate was the only form to raise zinc levels, at least in the hair, urine and erythrocyte. 

Based on these results, it seems as if zinc picolinate is most likely to absorb into a person's body, and zinc gluconate is the least likely. 

b. Zinc glycinate vs Zinc picolinate

In terms of zinc glycinate versus picolinate, the picolinate wins this one. Still, more research would be needed to know more about zinc glycinate versus picolinate, especially because this study was done so long ago.

One study comparing the absorption of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate shows that there’s no significant change in any of these forms, but zinc picolinate did improve zinc absorption in humans.

However, according to Chris Masterjohn: 

I don’t recommend using zinc oxide or zinc picolinate. People are often surprised that I recommend against picolinate. (see the video above).



3. Zinc Types and Elemental Zinc Amount: How much elemental Zinc is in the different zinc compounds

Different forms of zinc contain different amounts of elemental zinc, which refers to the weight of the zinc molecule by itself (Note: Most product labels tend to mark the elemental weight):
  • Zinc citrate is approximately 34% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 146 mg zinc citrate. (Examine)
  • Zinc sulfate consists 23% of elemental zinc; thus, 220 mg of zinc sulfate contains 50 mg of elemental zinc (NIH).
  • Zinc gluconate is approximately 13% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 385 mg zinc gluconate. (Examine)
  • Zinc monomethionine is approximately 21% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 238 mg zinc monomethionine. (Examine)
  • Zinc picolinate (20% of elemental zinc) (Metabolics
  • Zinc ascorbate (15%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc chloride (48%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc carbonate (52%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc bisglycinate (25%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc oxide (80%) (FamilyPractice). Although the percentage of elemental zinc is high, do take note that zinc oxide is one of the least bioavailable form.
  • Zinc carnosine: The typical clinical oral dose is 150 mg/day, containing 34 mg zinc and 116 mg L-carnosine.

4. Best Form of Zinc to Take

Many forms of zinc supplements are available, some better than others for certain conditions. It's useful to understand your choices when deciding which is the best form of zinc for you. Many forms of zinc supplements are available, some better than others for certain conditions. It's useful to understand your choices when deciding which is the best form of zinc for you.

The best form of zinc is one that's chelated to ensure absorbability. Some good forms of this type of supplement include:
  • ​Zinc gluconate​, one of the most popular forms of over-the-counter supplements. It is made by fermenting glucose, so it has a long shelf life.
  • Zinc acetate is the best zinc supplement to treat the ​common cold​. Findings of a study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases in 2017 recommended using acetate lozenges within 24 hours of the onset of a cold for a three-fold increase in the rate of recovery.
  • ​Zinc orotate​, made by binding zinc to orotic acid. It is the ​most readily absorbed​ zinc supplement on the market, according to Global Healing.
Inorganic zinc is not as effective or useable by your body as chelated zinc sources. For example, zinc sulfate​ is an inorganic form of zinc or zinc salt. Sulfate conflicts with calcium and may cause stomach irritation. 


5. Zinc and Other Vitamins

a. Zinc with Quercetin

i. Quercetin helps zinc by acting as a zinc ionophore 

(PubMed 2014), the same mechanism of action that hydroxychloroquine has via helping zinc pass the cell wall where it might halt viral replication.

This zinc ionophore activity of quercetin facilitates the transport of zinc across the cell membrane. It is known that zinc will slow down the replication of coronavirus through inhibition of enzyme RNA polymerase (PubMed 2010). 

ii. Quercetin and Zinc for Covid 19

The COVID-19 is an RNA (RiboNucleicAcid) virus and requires the RNA polymerase to replicate. Do take note that the study publication was a 2010 publication and is referring to a different coronavirus as compared to the latest coronavirus (COVID-19); though both are from the same family of coronaviruses.

Zinc is safe and well-tolerated. The FLCCC I-MASK+ protocol recommends 30 - 40 mg/day (elemental zinc) for COVID-19 prevention and 100 mg/day for treatment. The Zelenko protocol recommends 25 mg/day for prevention and 50 mg/day for treatment.

Zinc lozenges are preferred. While better absorbed on an empty stomach, the most common side effect is nausea and that is much less common when taken with food, so do take it after a meal.

As for quercetin, the FLCCC I-MASK+ protocol recommends 250 mg/day for COVID-19 prevention and 250 mg twice a day for treatment. 

That said, quercetin is less potent than HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) as a zinc transporter, and it does not reach high concentrations in lung cells that HCQ does. Quercetin may help reduce risk of viral illness if you are basically healthy. But it is not potent enough to replace HCQ for treatment of COVID once you have symptoms, and it does not adequately get into lung tissue. However, if you simply cannot get hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, quercetin is a viable stand-in. Quercetin works best when taken with vitamin C and Bromelain, as vitamin C helps activate it and bromelain helps with the absorption.

iii. Research 

In 2010, researchers recognized the intracellular function of zinc against coronaviruses, and the need for zinc ionophores to actively transport zinc into the cell. During 2020, treatment with hydroxychloroquine, a zinc ionophore, with zinc and azithromycin, was published by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko who experienced significant success with them in his patient population.

Since that time, two studies have been published that demonstrate the function of quercetin is safe, far less expensive and much easier to obtain than hydroxychloroquine. In the first study, there were 42 outpatients with COVID-19 who were divided to receive standard medical therapy or standard therapy with 600 milligrams (mg) of quercetin for seven days, followed by another seven days of 400 mg per day.

After one week, 16 of the 21 in the group taking quercetin tested negative for COVID-19 and 12 reported all symptoms had diminished. In the second study, researchers gave 152 outpatients with COVID-19 a daily dose of 1,000 mg of quercetin for 30 days.

The scientists found there was a reduction in frequency and length of hospitalization in the patient group. There were also less need for noninvasive oxygen therapy and lower numbers of individuals who were admitted to the intensive care unit. They concluded:

“QP (Quercetin Phytosome®) is a safe agent and in combination with standard care, when used in the early stage of viral infection, could aid in improving the early symptoms and help in preventing the severity of COVID-19 disease. It is suggested that a double-blind, placebo-controlled study should be urgently carried out to confirm the results of our study.”

Zinc and Quercetin Supplement - Sandhus Zinc Quercetin, 120 Vegetarian Capsules


6. Benefits of Zinc

a. Benefits of Zinc for Skin

i. Zinc Helps Fight Acne, Dandruff and Boils
Whether it's taken as a supplement or applied in a topical ointment in the form of zinc gluconate or zinc sulfate, zinc can help acne blemishes heal faster, reduce inflammation caused by acne and help regulate the skin's oil gland activity caused by changing hormones.

Zinc concentrations have been linked to wound healing in patients with thermal injuries or surgical stress in studies dating back to the 1970s. Zinc plays an important role in skin health. Skin contains a relatively high (about 5% of body content) zinc content, primarily associated within the epidermis (50–70 μg/g dry weight). Due to its abundance in the epidermis, mild zinc deficiency is noted to lead to roughened skin and impaired wound healing. [Trusted Source] Moreover, Zinc deficiency is also frequently found in eczema sufferers.

Best Zinc Supplement for Skin - Nature's Bounty Zinc, 50 mg


b. Benefits of Zinc for Acne

Zinc can aid in the fight against viruses and bacteria. Although most people obtain enough zinc from their diet, certain persons may benefit from temporary supplementation. Zinc pills, for example, are frequently advertised as a way to prevent colds or shorten sickness.

Moreover, zinc has antioxidant properties that reduce the inflammatory response to dead cells, dirt, oil, and bacteria. This could assist with the redness and irritation that comes with moderate to severe acne and it can aid in the reduction of acne scars. You can get zinc through your diet from natural foods high in fatty acids and plant protein (such as walnuts), animal protein high in omega-3 fatty acid. But if you are not getting enough zinc through your food, a zinc supplement can help you get adequate amounts zinc.

i. What Mg of Zinc Should I Take For Acne?

40-150 mg of Zinc helps treat acne, depending on the severity. Adding Zinc supplements on top of a healthy diet should be able to fulfill those requirements.

Best Zinc Supplement for Acne - Zinc for Acne by Puritan's Pride


c. Benefits of Zinc for Immune System

Zinc is a powerful immune nutrient known for its benefits for providing immune health support and inflammation reduction as well as for improving cold and respiratory symptoms, wound healing, acne reduction, and lowering the risk of age-related diseases. Research on atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus suggests that zinc deficiency may contribute to low-grade systemic inflammation.

Even more popular at the moment is the role of zinc and the potential benefits against COVID-19. This is probably one of the reasons that's driving the demand on zinc related products.

Best Zinc Supplement for Immune Health - Nature's Bounty Immune 24 Hour +


d. Benefits of Zinc for Men

1. Boosts and Maintains Testosterone Levels 
Scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan investigated the effects of zinc on testosterone levels in men between 20 and 80 years old. The study revealed that young men who restricted dietary zinc intake for 20 weeks experienced decreases in testosterone, while zinc-deficient elderly men taking zinc supplements for six months experienced increases in testosterone production.

2. Boosts Sperm Production and Motility
Sperm motility is measured differently than sperm count. Instead of a total count, sperm motility reflects the percentage of the sperm that are moving forward. 

3. Reduces Risk of Prostate Cancer
Recently, scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the Agricultural Research Service (the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) found that cancerous prostate tissue contains significantly less zinc than healthy organ tissue. While zinc is found in every organ, tissue and cell in the human body, in males, the prostate has more zinc than any other tissue except bone.

4. Minimizes the Symptoms and Duration of Colds
There's some evidence that zinc can help reduce the duration of colds or lessen the symptoms.

5. Helps Fight Acne, Dandruff and Boils

6. Reduces the Likelihood of Baldness
Zinc supplements can help guard against hair loss in men who don't eat a balanced diet. The suggested dosage for hair loss is 50 to 100 milligrams a day

7. Reduces Liver Damage from Alcohol
Low zinc levels in adults can be related to alcohol-induced liver damage. Supplemental zinc, can help reduce that damage, in part because it promotes the enzymes that dissipate alcohol.

Zinc has also been found to improve the antioxidant capabilities of the liver, as well as boost a main metal detoxifying compound called metallothionein, or MT. Low MT levels sensitise the liver to potential damage. By stabilising the gastrointestinal tract, MT can help keep inflammation to a minimum.

8. Promotes Protein Synthesis to Help with Muscle Growth
The very act of exercising -- from weight training to running to raking the lawn -- puts our muscles under stress. We literally break them down, on a cellular level, when we use them. While at rest, our muscles grow back bigger and stronger. Zinc is a key component in this process, from providing proper structure to cells and proteins to helping us get the rest that the process requires.

Best Zinc Supplement for MenNugenix Total-T, Testosterone Booster with Zinc


e. Benefits of Zinc for Women

1. Menstruation
Zinc may help with menstrual issues such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This is because Zinc has the ability to regulate the secretion of progesterone, which may increase the risk of developing PMS. It may also help prevent menstrual cramps.


2. Pregnancy
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, an estimated 82 percent of pregnant women worldwide are likely to suffer from a zinc deficiency. This may be because more zinc is required during pregnancy to ensure the health and development of the fetus. 

Zinc deficiencies in pregnant women may lead to low birth weight, premature birth, delivery complications, and congenital abnormalities.


3. Older Women
Elderly and post-menopausal women may require more zinc than elderly men. As you age, the amount of zinc your body is able to absorb decreases, which may require you to ingest more zinc to prevent a deficiency. 

Older women may be more susceptible to a zinc deficiency than older men. This may be due to the higher dietary intake of calcium in older women for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Calcium competes with zinc for absorption, and increasing calcium intake in elderly women may reduce zinc absorption.

4. Mood
According to a 2010 study published by the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition," zinc supplementation may improve mood in women, and may even be an effective treatment for depression in women. 

In the study, women who supplemented with 7 mg of zinc daily for 10 weeks showed a significant reduction in anger and depression and scored higher on a Profile of Mood State exam as compared to women who took a placebo and women who took a multivitamin containing zinc. 

Taking zinc supplements by themselves may increase serum levels of zinc in your bloodstream because it is more readily absorbed than in a multivitamin, where zinc has to compete for absorption with other vitamins and minerals.

Best Zinc Supplement for WomenNature's Potent Zinc, 50mg

6. Zinc Deficiency - Groups at High Risk

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 (PubMed).

a. Zinc deficiency in Infants and children

Young children are at greater risk of zinc deficiency because of increased zinc requirements during growth. Exclusively breast-fed infants of mothers with adequate zinc nutrition obtain sufficient zinc for the 1st 5-6 months of their life [PubMed]. After this age, complementary foods containing absorbable zinc are required to satisfy their requirements. In many low-income countries, complementary feeding is delayed and cereal foods are then used for feeding. These foods have low content of total and absorbable zinc and thus, fail to meet the needs for zinc. Conversely, early introduction of such foods may interfere with the absorption of zinc from breast milk due to their high phytate content [PubMed].

b. Zinc deficiency in Adolescents

The physiological requirements for zinc peak during adolescence at the time of the pubertal growth spurt, which generally occurs in girls between 10 years and 15 years and in boys between 12 years and 15 years. Even after the growth spurt has ceased, adolescents may require additional zinc to replenish depleted tissue zinc pools. [PubMed]

c. Zinc deficiency during Pregnancy and Lactation

Increased nutritional demands during pregnancy and lactation predispose women to zinc deficiency [PubMed]These demands are greater during lactation, although, physiological adjustments in zinc absorption help to meet the needs for lactation. A number of studies have demonstrated a negative impact of therapeutic supplemental iron on zinc absorption during pregnancy [PubMed] and lactation [PubMed]. In pregnant women where dietary intakes of zinc were low, supplemental iron, in dosages as low as 60 mg/day prevented them from meeting their needs for zinc [PubMed].

d. Zinc deficiency in Elderly

Diet surveys indicate that zinc intakes by elderly persons are often inadequate, even in rich countries [PubMed]Several factors may contribute to poor zinc nutrition among the elderly, in particular, reduced consumption of zinc-rich foods such as red meat. In addition, there is some evidence that the efficiency of zinc absorption may decrease with age.



7. Zinc and Covid 19

a. Could Zinc Prevent or Treat COVID-19?

Zinc directly inhibits two enzymes essential to the replication of SARS-CoV, the coronavirus that causes SARS. These include papain-like protease 2 (PLP2) and the 3CL protease. The sequences and structures of these enzymes are similar to the corresponding enzymes of SARS-CoV-2 (documented here, and here). These are enzymes known as “cysteine proteases,” which use sulfur from the amino acid cysteine to carry out their work. Zinc binds to the cysteine to inhibit them. This particular aspect of the enzymes is completely the same between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, zinc almost certainly inhibits the enzymes within SARS-CoV-2.

One of the main determinants is what concentration of zinc will be available to inhibit the enzymes, and what concentration would be required to do so.

The studies looking at the inhibitory effect of zinc on these enzymes use ionic zinc, which is freely available and not bound to anything else.


b. Clinical Evidence Supporting the Antiviral Activity of Zinc

As of April 2022, there have been more than 20 published studies of zinc against COVID-19. For details and the list of studies, check out c19zinc.com.

Based on the studies above, early treatment are more effective than late treatment in terms of improvement; 74% vs 32%.

Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, mussels, red meat, and poultry. Cereals are often fortified with zinc. Most multivitamin and nutritional supplements contain zinc.

Taking zinc long term is typically safe for healthy adults, as long as the daily dose is under the set upper limit of 40 mg of elemental zinc (PubMed). Be aware that typical daily doses of zinc provided by zinc lozenges generally exceed tolerable upper limits for zinc, and for this reason, they should not be used for longer than about a week

Excessive doses may interfere with copper absorption, which could negatively affect your immune system as it can cause copper deficiencies, blood disorders and potentially permanent nerve damage. Zinc can also impair the absorption of antibiotics, and use of zinc nasal gels or swabs has been linked to temporary or permanent loss of smell.

The ideal dose for prevention while the COVID-19 risk is high is 40-100 mg/d, a portion of which comes from zinc lozenges to spread the zinc through the tissues of the nose, mouth and throat. It should be accompanied by at least 1 mg copper from food and supplements for every 15 mg zinc.

Zinc lozenges are preferred so that the tissues of the nose and throat are rich in zinc as soon as they encounter the virus. Unlike swallowed zinc, lozenges can spread zinc through these tissues quickly in response to symptoms, because their ability to spread zinc through these tissues is not limited by intestinal zinc transporters.

Zinc that is swallowed for the sake of reaching the lungs should be used preventatively rather than at the first sign of symptoms, because it takes a long time to enrich systemic stores of zinc.

Do take note that you should keep the dosage back to within 40 mg/d once the exposure risk is back to normal.

For updated prevention and early outpatient treatment protocol, please check out FLCCC I-MASK+ protocol. Do take note that in the I-MASK+ protocol, the dosage for treatment is much higher (100 mg/day) vs the dosage for prevention (30 mg/day). The high dose treatment dosage is only meant for 7 - 10 days and not for long term.


8. Toxicity and Precautions

According to the National Institutes of Health, the upper tolerable daily limit for adults is ​40 milligrams​ of zinc. Intake of zinc above the recommended upper level could result from a combination of dietary supplements, multivitamins, food and food additives, ingestion of zinc-containing medications or household products.

a. Interactions between zinc, copper, iron and phosphorus

Do not take zinc supplements and copper, iron, or phosphorus supplements at the same time. It is best to space doses of these products 2 hours apart, to get the full benefit from each dietary supplement.

Copper and zinc compete for absorption sites in the small intestine. If there's a lot of zinc around, copper tends to lose out and a copper deficiency may develop.

b. Side Effects: Can You Take Too Much Zinc Supplement?

How much zinc should I take daily? 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 (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Taking zinc long term is typically safe for healthy adults, as long as the daily dose is under the set upper limit of 40 mg of elemental zinc (PubMed). Be aware that typical daily doses of zinc provided by zinc lozenges generally exceed tolerable upper limits for zinc, and for this reason, they should not be used for longer than about a week

Taking too much zinc can cause adverse side effects, such as decreased immune function, low copper levels, and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, mussels, red meat, and poultry. Cereals are often fortified with zinc. Most multivitamin and nutritional supplements also contain zinc.


9. FAQs

a. How Much Zinc Should A Woman Take Daily?

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) Quantities for Zinc

- Women 19 and older, 8 mg/day
- Pregnant women 19 and older, 11 mg/day
- Lactating women 19 and older, 12 mg/day

- In people with mild zinc deficiency, recommendations suggest taking two to three times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc for 6 months. 
- In people with moderate to severe deficiency, recommendations suggest taking four to five times the RDA for 6 months.



Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) Quantities for Zinc

Boys and men age 14 and older, 11 mg/day

- In people with mild zinc deficiency, recommendations suggest taking two to three times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc for 6 months. 
- In people with moderate to severe deficiency, recommendations suggest taking four to five times the RDA for 6 months.


c. Are All Zinc Supplements the Same? 

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 best zinc supplements to help you meet your nutritional needs. As everyone has their own set of criteria, the best option for you might be different from another person. 

d. Does Your Body Store Zinc?

Your body has no mechanism for storing zinc, so whatever isn't used is expelled from the body, and you'll need a steady dietary supply to keep your body functioning well.


e. What Happens To Your Hair If Zinc is Too Low or Too High?

A study showed a strong correlation between zinc deficiency (< 70 µg/dL) and hair loss. A zinc deficiency causes hair loss and damages existing hair, making it more prone to breakage. How? Lack of zinc can cause changes in the protein structure of hair follicles which may decrease their structural integrity. As result, new hairs will fall off more frequently than they should.

However, having too much zinc can also cause damage. That’s why it is important to make sure that you are getting the recommended daily amount of zinc.

f. What to Look for in a Zinc Supplement

i. Type
Like most supplements, you can take zinc in a variety of ways. The most common types are capsule, pill, tablet, gummy, and liquid form. Gummies and liquid are definitely a better option for children or people who have trouble swallowing pills. However, keep in mind that gummies don’t offer the higher concentrated dosage as other types of zinc supplements, and, similarly to liquid formulas, may contain added sugars or sweeteners. 

ii. Form
In case you didn’t notice, there are several forms of zinc as well. Zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, and zinc glycinate are more easily absorbable than zinc sulfate—but generally cost more. 

iii. Dosage
Pay attention to how many mg of zinc you need and what each pill, capsule, gummy, tablet, or liquid offers. Keep in mind that more isn’t necessarily better, as we all have different needs. Before taking any type of supplement, you should always check with your healthcare provider to establish what your needs are. How much zinc you should take per day depends on the type and forms of zinc, as each supplement contains a different amount of 'elemental zinc'. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form.  For example, approximately 23% of zinc sulfate consists of elemental zinc; thus, 220 mg of zinc sulfate contains 50 mg of elemental zinc (NIH). Zinc picolinate (20% of elemental zinc), zinc ascorbate (15%), zinc chloride (48%), zinc carbonate (52%), zinc citrate (31%), zinc bisglycinate (25%) (Ref) and zinc gluconate (14%) and zinc oxide (80%) (Ref).

iv. Purpose
Are you looking for a daily zinc supplement or an occasional immune booster? While some zinc offerings are meant to take once or twice a day to ensure you are getting enough zinc, others are meant to take several times a day for a few days.

10. Best Zinc Supplement 2022: Online Shopping Guide

Before adding a new supplement to your routine, discuss its use with your healthcare provider, especially if you have an underlying health condition or are taking medication.

While many of the zinc supplements may be available in your local stores, it may be more convenient or affordable to shop for them online on Amazon (US).

Best Zinc Gluconate Supplement - Nature's Bounty Zinc 50 mg Caplets

Best Vegan Zinc Supplement - Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc

Best Bioavailable Zinc Supplement - Bronson Zinc Triple Play

Best Organic Zinc Supplement - Nutra Champs Liquid Ionic Zinc

Best Liquid Zinc Supplement - Mary Ruth's Liquid Ionic Zinc

Best Zinc Supplement for Seniors - Pure Encapsulations Zinc

Best Zinc Supplement for Women - Nature's Potent Zinc, 50mg

Best Zinc Supplement for Men - Nugenix Total-T, Testosterone Booster with Zinc

Best Zinc Supplement for Immune HealthNature's Bounty Immune 24 Hour +

Best Zinc Supplement for SkinNature's Bounty Zinc, 50 mg

Best Zinc Supplement for Acne - Zinc for Acne by Puritan's Pride

Best Zinc Supplement for Absorption - Bronson Zinc Triple Play

Best Chelated Zinc Supplement - Dr. Mercola Zinc Plus Selenium Dietary Supplement (Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate)

Best Zinc Supplement for Hair Loss - Natures Craft Ionic Zinc


Conclusion

If you think a zinc supplement is right for you, talk to your doctor about which form you should take. This is especially important because zinc can interfere with your body's absorption of copper and iron, so you might need to supplement those minerals as well.

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