Whether it’s recommended you take a zinc supplement or you are simply picking up a bottle to prepare for cold and flu season, you may have a few questions. We have all the answers to any questions you may have, from what dosage you should take to which type of zinc is best or what zinc does for the human body.
Our top recommendation for most users is Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance, thanks to its well-balanced blend of zinc and copper that offers effective immune-boosting properties. However, your specific situation may require a different option. Keep reading to find the zinc supplement that’s right for you.
Zinc supplement benefits
Zinc is what is known as an essential trace mineral. Our body needs these, but in lesser quantities than other essential nutrients. Having proper levels of zinc helps to keep the immune system strong. It may also reduce the risk of developing age-related diseases like pneumonia or macular degeneration.
Zinc is also vital for the body’s ability to fight infections. There is evidence that supplementing the diet with zinc can decrease infection rates in older adults by as much as 66%.
Along with the benefits of taking it orally, you can take zinc topically to speed up wound healing. This is because it reduces inflammation and plays a critical role in collagen synthesis.
Who should take a zinc supplement
Anyone who has low levels of zinc can benefit from taking a supplement, though certain groups of people are more prone to this condition than others.
Because the human body can’t store zinc, we need to get it from our diet regularly. The most significant sources of dietary zinc include red meats, fish, shellfish, poultry and eggs. It can also be found, to a lesser extent, in mushrooms, kale, broccoli, legumes and some seeds. Therefore, vegans and vegetarians are more prone to become zinc deficient than carnivores.
People with certain diseases that make it hard for their bodies to absorb zinc from the foods they eat can also become zinc deficient, even if they are eating a balanced diet. Some examples of these diseases include sickle cell anemia, malabsorption syndrome, diabetes and chronic liver disease.
Along with people with a chronic zinc deficiency, anyone currently suffering from a cold may want to reach for a zinc supplement. Studies show that zinc can reduce the duration of the common cold by as much as 33%. However, if you wait more than 24 hours from the onset of symptoms, taking a zinc supplement appears to be less effective, so it is a good idea to keep a bottle in the house.
What to consider when choosing a zinc supplement
Zinc supplements come in lozenges, tablets, capsules, liquids and effervescent tablets. All offer equal effectiveness, so for most people, the choice can come down to your preference and which you find easiest to incorporate into your lifestyle. If you have a severe deficiency and need to rapidly raise your zinc levels, lozenges, capsules, liquids and effervescent tablets are the best options as they can be absorbed by the body quicker than tablets.
The recommended daily allowance of zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. However, most supplements will contain more than that because your body won’t absorb the entirety. The majority of people should look for a zinc supplement of 15-30 mg. You can also find zinc supplements with 50-100 mg, but you should speak with your doctor before taking these, as the tolerable upper intake level for most people is 40 mg.
In addition to certain forms of supplements, specific types of zinc absorb more easily by the body. If you want to ensure your body absorbs the maximum possible amount from your supplement, look for one that contains zinc picolinate, zinc acetate or zinc citrate.
Cost of zinc supplements
Zinc supplements usually cost between 5-30 cents per serving. All-natural, vegan-friendly and sugar-free options generally cost towards the upper end of the price spectrum, as do those mixed with other immune-boosting ingredients.
Zinc supplement FAQs
What are the side effects of zinc supplements?
A. When taken as directed, most people don’t experience any side effects from zinc supplements. However, those sensitive to it may experience gastrointestinal issues. Exceeding the recommended tolerable upper intake level can cause flu-like symptoms.
How often should I take a zinc supplement?
A. The answer to this depends on your health situation. If you are deficient, your doctor may recommend that you take it daily. Others may only want to take it when symptoms of a cold present. You should note that many multivitamins also contain zinc, so make sure to consider this when adding zinc supplements to ensure you stay within the recommended daily values.
Does zinc interact with any medications?
A. Zinc can decrease the effectiveness of Quinolone and Tetracycline antibiotics. It may also reduce the effectiveness of Penicillamine. Additionally, it can worsen the side effects of Cisplatin. There are additional medications zinc can interact with, including some OTC medications, so speak with your doctor before taking zinc supplements.
What is the best zinc supplement?
Top zinc supplement
What you need to know: This supplement contains a blend of zinc and copper designed to promote skeletal and immune health.
What you’ll love: It’s free of the most common allergens and contains a low dosage that most people easily tolerate.
What you should consider: It consists of bovine gelatin and is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Top zinc supplement for the money
What you need to know: An excellent budget-friendly option for people who want a high dose, Nature’s Way costs just 4 cents per serving and contains 30 mg.
What you’ll love: It is designed for optimal absorption and is free of artificial colors and preservatives.
What you should consider: It may cause nausea in some, especially if not taken with food.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: OptiZinc contains a patented zinc complex formulated specifically with bioavailability in mind.
What you’ll love: It has added B6 to boost the immune system and is lab-tested for potency and purity.
What you should consider: There are reports of people experiencing stomach discomfort when they first start taking it.
Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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