Zinc is an essential mineral found in almost all of your cells. You need it for growth, healing, and a healthy immune system. According to medical experts, zinc could even help protect you from respiratory viruses.
That said, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or chestfeeding, following a meat-free diet, have a medical condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may benefit from boosting your zinc levels with a supplement.
But not all zinc supplements are created equal. So if you’re zinc-ing of adding a supplement to your daily routine, this roundup spills the tea on some of the best.
We consulted nutritional therapist, Julie Stewart for some expert advice to create our list of the best zinc supplements.
- Check with your doctor. “Before supplementing with any mineral, it is best to consult with a qualified nutritionist or healthcare professional so they can test your zinc levels and advise you on the correct dose and duration of supplement for your need,” says Stewart. If you have a deficiency, doctors usually use 2 to 3 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) daily or 20 to 40 mg daily for 1 to 2 weeks. If you’ve got a severe deficiency because you can’t absorb zinc properly, your doctor may recommend higher doses of zinc of more than 50 mg per day.
- Bioavailability. “Choosing a highly bioavailable form is essential for zinc absorption and for maintaining optimal levels,” she says. Although there’s limited research investigating how the body absorbs different forms of zinc, “Clinical studies have shown that zinc citrate and picolinate have higher absorption rates and zinc content than other forms.” Zinc gluconate is another option that’s better absorbed than zinc oxide.
- Consider copper. “It’s worth noting that copper and zinc compete for absorption sites in the small intestine. If there’s a lot of zinc around, copper tends to not be absorbed and a copper deficiency may develop.” Ask your doctor, but you may need to balance high supplemental zinc with copper.
- Choose a respected brand. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as medications, you need to buy them from a trusted brand. Be diligent! It helps to look for a current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) certification, meaning the manufacturing facility complies with FDA requirements. Third-party testing from peeps like USP or NSF also indicates good standing.
- Vetted products only. The products on this list have been through a thorough vetting process. We’ve checked for unsupported health claims, dodgy business practices, warning letters from the FDA, and any lawsuits involving a company’s products. We also ensure that the companies on our list are transparent about their ingredients and provide dosage information.
With so many zinc supplements available, choosing the right one can be challenging. However, these zinc supplements stand above the rest.
Side by side comparison
Best overall zinc supplement
- Price: $$$
- Amount: 180 doses
- Format: capsules
- Features: free from gluten, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, dairy, yeast, soy, fish, or shellfish; easily absorbed form of zinc
Thorne is a science brand developing products at its own dedicated research and lab facilities. Each product goes through four rounds of testing, which is better than most.
That commitment has helped its supplements earn certification from NSF International and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). It also meets standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Thorne’s efforts make its zinc picolinate one of the best overall zinc supplements available, and a deserving top pick. Plus, because it contains zinc picolinate, the body can absorb it more easily than the zinc some other supplement brands use.
It’s also free from gluten, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), artificial preservatives, substances banned by major athletic groups, and allergens. So keeping those fillers out makes Thorne Zinc Picolinate suitable for most people.
Each capsule contains 30 mg of zinc picolinate. Take one capsule daily or follow your doctor’s advice. The capsules are easy to swallow and have helped some users improve their skin. However, as they can make you drowsy, it’s a good idea to take them at night.
Best vegan zinc supplement
- Price: $
- Amount: 60 doses
- Format: vegan capsules
- Features: third-party certified vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, NSF Gluten Free, Star K Kosher and Carbon free; blended with Vitamin C
Those who follow a vegan diet have to be careful of zinc supplements, as many brands seal their products in gelatin capsules. If you’re steering clear of animal products, then our top vegan choice is a great option. It’s made without gelatin and other animal products, so you can enjoy the benefits guilt-free. They’re also organic, gluten-free, and free from GMOs.
Take two capsules for 30 mg of zinc derived from brown rice chelate. Each dose also includes 60 mg of raw vitamin C from a blend of raw fruits and veggies. The addition of probiotics and enzymes may improve digestion.
Most users say these pills are easy to swallow and can be taken with or without food. However, you can also open them up and stir them into water, juice, or a smoothie. According to satisfied users and research, zinc helps with clear skin and better immune health.
Best gluten-free zinc supplement
- Price: $
- Amount: 60 doses
- Format: tablets
- Features: free from GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, pesticides, and herbicides; made with real food, carefully selected herbs and nutrients
There are several gluten-free zinc supplements on the market, but if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, MegaFood Zinc is one of the best.
People who avoid gluten often need to avoid other ingredients like dairy and soy. MegaFood Zinc is free of all these common irritants. It’s also so kind on tummies that you can take it with or without food.
Its ingredients are also kosher, non-GMO, and certified vegan, so they suit various dietary requirements. However, it does get its 22.5 mg of zinc from S. Cerevisiae, which is a type of yeast. That means it’s unsuitable for anyone with a yeast allergy and may cause similar symptoms as a gluten flare.
Along with the yeast, MegaFood Zinc capsules contain a blend of veggies like spinach, carrot, broccoli, and beets. Unlike many brands, a single capsule is your daily dose. Some people say the capsules have improved their immune systems and energy levels.
Best organic zinc supplement
- Price: $$
- Amount: 60 doses
- Format: vegan capsules
- Features: certified organic, non-GMO, and vegan; contains plant-sourced zinc
NutriGold Zinc Gold is certified by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, so you can trust its ingredients are at least 95 percent organic.
Its zinc comes from organic, non-GMO sprouted whole foods. The blend of guava leaves, lentil sprouts, and bean sprouts gives each capsule 15 mg of zinc. NutriGold claims these ingredients make its single-dose capsules kinder on tummies.
It might seem like a small thing, but NutriGold’s glass jars get a big tick from us. Using glass instead of plastic, even BPA-free plastic, helps keep your supplements pure and chemical-free. When you buy organic, it’s good to know your supplements are free of contaminants.
If you want a pure zinc supplement free of chemicals and other nasties, NutriGold Zinc Gold is a great choice. However, it doesn’t have the added vitamins of many brands.
Best zinc supplement lozenge
- Price: $
- Amount: 30 doses
- Format: lozenges
- Features: non-GMO, gluten-free, manufactured in the USA with a Certificate of Analysis; contains zinc acetate that releases as positively charged zinc ions
If you prefer a zinc boost when you need it rather than a daily supplement, Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges could be a match made in heaven.
Suck on these peppermint-flavored lozenges for 18.75 mg of zinc acetate.
Life Extension claims its lozenges deliver positively charged zinc ions to your immune system. Try them when you first notice cold symptoms and you could get back on your feet sooner. Yep, a 2020 analysis found zinc supplements may reduce the duration of a cold by 2.25 days.
Many people claim they do the job well, but their large size and strong flavor are barriers for some. Some people also experience minor side effects, including dry mouth and stomach cramps.
If you can handle them, though, you may appreciate Life Extension’s commitment to quality ingredients. The lozenges use vegetarian ingredients that are free from GMOs and gluten. Take them once a cold takes hold or as the seasons change to boost your immunity.
Best liquid zinc supplement
- Price: $$$
- Amount: 60 doses
- Format: liquid
- Features: non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian; covered by a 60-day satisfaction guarantee; contains zinc acetate that releases as positively charged zinc ions
If you don’t love capsules, Metagenics Zinc Drink may suit you better. Each teaspoon dose contains 15 mg of zinc sulfate and deionized water. In addition, it’s free from additives, preservatives, GMOs, gluten, and meat ingredients.
This is one of the more expensive zinc supplements on the market. You get what you pay for, though, with each batch tested to ensure it makes the grade. As with all Metagenics products, this zinc drink meets NSF and TGA regulations. It’s also verified by United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
Most users say this zinc drink is tasteless and odorless, so you can take it on its own. If you prefer, you can also mix it into a glass of water or juice. Satisfied users say it effectively shortens their cold symptoms, including sore throats and fevers. The research agrees that zinc can shorten the duration of colds.
Best chelated zinc supplement
- Price: $
- Amount: 120 doses
- Format: softgels
- Features: blended with pumpkin oil; chelated zinc for higher bioavailability
NOW Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels use a chelating agent to aid absorption and effectiveness. Some users agree with their effectiveness. However, others have still reported upset stomachs after taking them.
They might not be a silver bullet, but if your system’s sensitive, these softgels may work for you. Each softgel has 30 mg of zinc glycinate and 250 mg of pumpkin seed oil. They have a neutral taste, and most users say they go down easily. They do contain gelatin and beeswax, too, so look elsewhere if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
NOW Foods takes quality seriously, so its supplements are certified by Underwriters Laboratories. It also follows good manufacturing practices (GMP) to ensure every batch is up to scratch. NOW Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels are also more affordable than many zinc supplements.
Everyone’s different, so the zinc supplement your friends love might not necessarily be the best choice for you. These tips can help you find the zinc supplement that’s optimal for your needs.
Speak with your doctor
Zinc supplements are available online and over the counter but getting medical advice on them is still a good idea. Your doctor knows your medical history, so they can suggest how much zinc you need. They may suggest a supplement with the recommended daily allowance of zinc or suggest more if you have a certain medical condition that impacts zinc absorption, or you’re eating a meat-free diet, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Consider your dietary needs
Your dietary needs impact everything you put in your mouth, including your supplements. If you have allergies or intolerances to ingredients such as gluten or yeast, look for supplements free from that stuff. If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, look for supplements labeled for these diets. Browse the ingredients list to make sure they’re suitable for you.
Think about usability
Zinc supplements are available in a variety of forms. Tablets and capsules are the most common, but some peeps find liquids easier to swallow. There are also lozenges that you can suck like candy. Choose a supplement you can take easily.
Most online stores show unbiased ratings and comments from users. Read them to decide whether the supplement gets the results you want. The comments can also alert you to any potential side effects. This preliminary research can help you feel confident in your choice.