Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in a wide variety of bodily functions. While many get enough zinc by following a well-balanced diet, some folks, perhaps due to existing illnesses or specific dietary practices, may benefit from taking zinc supplements. It’s wise to consult a medical professional if you think you may be deficient in zinc.
Although more research is needed to make any definitive claims about zinc, it is a common ingredient in a number of cold and flu medicines, as zinc may help bolster the immune system. It’s important to note, however, that the National Institutes of Health sets an upper limit of 40mg of zinc per day, and cautions that exceeding that limit regularly could result in long term health issues (1). There is quite an array of zinc supplements on the market, with options ranging from tablets to liquid drops. We took a look at some of the best zinc supplements according to purity and value, and gave our picks.
The Best Zinc Supplements
- Best Overall Zinc Supplement: Garden of Life Raw Zinc
- Best Tablet: Nature’s Bounty Zinc
- Best Liquid: Pure Zinc Liquid Drops
- Best Lozenge: Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges
- Best Powder: BulkSupplements Zinc Gluconate Powder
Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.
Best Overall Zinc Supplement
Each 2 capsule serving of Garden of Life Raw Zinc contains 30mg zinc and 15mg of Vitamin C. It infuses each serving with a unique blend of raw organic fruits and vegetables featuring apple, beet, broccoli, and carrot, to name a few. Additionally, a raw probiotic and enzyme blend is included with the intent to aid with digestion.
Those looking for a rich source of zinc mixed with additional nutrients from organic and raw sources may want to check out this unique blend from Garden of Life. In addition to 30mg of zinc, each serving includes a daily dose of Vitamin C as well as a mix of organic fruits and vegetables.
Traces of a mineral blend comprised of spirulina, chlorella, and peat are a highlight, and all of it is made without any artificial fillers or ingredients, this supplement is non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, and vegan friendly. There’s a lot going on, but its pretty much all positive, and why Garden of Life tops our list.
Who Should Take Garden of Life Raw Zinc
- Vegans. The ingredient list is pretty deep, but it maintains itself as vegan friendly.
- Those who want to improve their digestion.
- Anyone who values zero GMO suppliments.
Who Shouldn’t Take Garden of Life Raw Zinc
- People on a a budget. That lengthy ingredient doesn’t come without additional cost.
- They need clear labeling.
Thanks in part to the additional nutrients from fruits and veggies included in this supplement, Garden of Life Raw Zinc is a bit more expensive than some competing zinc capsules. Labeling is not clear about what type of zinc is used in this product, but all-in-all, its pros heavily outweigh its cons.
Each 1 tablet serving of Nature’s Bounty Zinc contains 50mg of zinc gluconate, a form of zinc intended to be absorbed quickly by the body. Nature’s Bounty uses non-GMO ingredients and a vegan-friendly recipe which garnered high scores for purity via third party testing on labdoor.com.
Nature’s Bounty offers a very straightforward source of zinc gluconate in tablet form. These reasonably priced tablets may be great for folks looking for a simple boost of zinc in their daily diet.
They are very reasonably priced compared to comparable options on the market.
Who Should Take Nature’s Bounty Zinc
- People interested in having thoroughly tested products.
- Folks who want a higher dose of zinc.
- Anyone going easy on their wallet.
Who Shouldn’t Take Nature’s Bounty Zinc
- Anyone who has trouble taking tablets and pills, as these are on the drier side.
- People who do not want to surpass the National Institutes of Health daily limit of zinc.
The downsides to Nature’s Bounty Zinc are apparent but may not be negative depending on what you’re looking for. These tablets are a bit dry, and some find them difficult to swallow. The 50mg of zinc in each tablet is higher than the upper daily limit established by the National Institutes of Health, so it might be best to consult your physician prior to purchase to make sure that this is a smart buy.
On a per serving basis, Pure Zinc Liquid Drops includes 15mg of zinc gluconate per serving. Top scores for purity and label accuracy according to third party testing on labdoor.com.
If you’d prefer to get your zinc via liquid form, check out the liquid offering from Pure Zinc. At 15mg per serving, this checks in a bit lower than some of the other forms of zinc.
It is gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegetarian to not conflict with most diets.
Who Should Take Pure Encapsulations Zinc Liquid
- Anyone who needs a supplement with a lower dose of zinc than most of the market.
- Ideal pick for those who value high marks from third party purity testing.
Who Shouldn’t Take Pure Encapsulations Zinc Liquid
- Anyone who doesn’t like tediousness. Each serving is four full droppers, which is a lot for a low dose serving of zinc.
- People with low budgets.
It takes four full droppers to get one full serving of Pure Zinc Liquid Drops, which may not be as quick as it takes to ingest some other forms of zinc. The biggest knock against this product is on a cost per serving basis, it is one of the more expensive forms of zinc on the market. We still rank it as the best liquid, but unless you are specifically looking for a liquid supplement, it may be fruitful to seek a more affordable option.
Each lozenge contains 23mg of zinc as citrate and gluconate as well as 100mg of Vitamin C, making this a strong concoction for folks looking to bolster their immune system.
Sometimes, taking a capsule or a powder may seem a bit intense, and you’d rather just have a quick candy-esque dose of zinc. For those times, check out the wild berry goodness that is Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges.
On a per serving basis, this is among the most affordable zinc supplements on the market. Zinc lozenges are designed to melt in your mouth. It is also vegetarian friendly.
Who Should Take Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges
- People who are looking for a dose of vitamin C in addition to zinc.
- Folks who want to get solid bang for their buck.
Who Shouldn’t Take Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges
- People who don’t like sweets.
- Anyone uncomfortable with having to suck on lozenges.
The wild berry flavor in these lozenges may be a bit sweet for some palettes. The need to suck on a lozenge can either be a turn on or turn off for customers. If you like sucking on hard candy and the like, then this may be a sort of healthier way to do that.
A mere 1/16 tsp serving of this powder contains 225mg of zinc gluconate. That is a extremely high dose when compared to most other options available.
If powders are more the speed you’re looking for, look no further than BulkSupplements Zinc Gluconate Powder. This simple ingredient contains nothing but powdered zinc and is available at a very affordable price.
For reference, zinc gluconate is one of the more common forms of zinc due to its absorbability. BulkSupplements Zinc Gluconate Powder gets the nod for best powder because of its high potency, foil pouch with resealable top, and eminent affordability on a per serving basis.
Who Should Take BulkSupplements Zinc Gluconate Powder
- Anyone really trying to go hard on the zinc. The per serving size is gigantic.
- Those who like mixing their zinc into other beverages rather than taking via tablet or lozenge.
Who Shouldn’t Take BulkSupplements Zinc Gluconate Powder
- Powder carries a naturally sour taste, so if this isn’t your flavor profile, you may want to look elsewhere.
- Those who have trouble doing calculations to find the proper serving size.
Due to its sour flavor, it may be advantageous to mix it into a sweet juice or other beverage. Measuring out such small amounts of powder may be a bit of an annoyance for some, so be certain that this kind of high dose option is what you’re looking for. The biggest knock is that since the serving size is difficult to measure and the powder contains 13% of zinc. Taking 450mg of it is effectively taking 60mg of zinc. That’s a lot of math to get your nutrients.
How We Decided Our Picks
There are an overwhelming amount of zinc supplements available on the market. With so many to choose from, it can be tough to know how to make an informed decision. Before adding any to your shopping cart, be sure to consider a few key features.
Type of Zinc
Some of the most common forms of zinc are gluconate and citrate, which are found in many over the counter cold remedies. Though both are thought to be absorbed fairly well, zinc citrate is known for leaving a rather unpleasant aftertaste behind. Other common types of zinc include acetate, sulfate, picolinate, and orotate. Consult with a medical professional or dietician if you’re not sure which type of zinc suits your needs best.
Zinc is available in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from powders to liquids. Ultimately, the choice here comes down to personal preference. If you’re constantly running out the door and are hard-pressed for time, scarfing down a quick tablet may be a bit easier than measuring out and mixing up a powder.
When shopping for any supplements, it’s wise to consider what’s inside the container. Labdoor.com is a great source for independent third party test results, and will help give you a sense of how accurately each brand has labeled their wares.
Recommended doses of zinc will vary from person to person depending on need. However, a typical daily recommended amount is between 15 and 30mg. Consult a medical professional about taking any more than that.
Note that the NIH has an Upper Limit for zinc at 40mg per day. Exceeding that amount on a regular basis may result in long term health issues.
To figure out the value of each zinc supplement, divide the total cost by the amount of servings. Take into account the individual dose sizes, as that may have an impact on the overall value.
What to Consider Before Buying
The Kind of Zinc
More often than not, products will list the kind of zinc they use. For example, zinc gluconate or zinc citrate. Knowing what is used is important because each type of zinc informs how much of that zinc is likely to be absorbed.
If you have zinc gluconate or zinc citrate in a product, then the absorbility will be high — around 61%. Something like zinc sulfate has a 71% absorbability. On the flip side, zinc oxide, the cheapest and most insoluble zinc supplementation compound, is significantly less well absorbed than citrate or gluconate according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. (2)
Start slow and eat a meal. Taking a zinc supplement on an empty stomach can result in a quick case of nausea for a lot of folks. If you’re new to zinc supplementing, it may be wise to start with a half dose to see how your body reacts. It’s wise to consult a medical professional or a dietician before adding zinc to a regimen.
For some, zinc may provide just the right bolster to the immune system to get through the sick season unimpeded. Others may need daily boosts of zinc if they’re not getting enough in their normal diets. Consult with a medical professional to see if zinc supplementation is right for you.
Which form of zinc is best absorbed?
Ask five people this question and it’s possible to get five answers. Generally, however, zinc citrate and gluconate are thought to be among the most easily absorbed forms of zinc.
Is zinc good for hair?
Zinc plays a role in a number of bodily functions. Though more research is needed to make any definitive claims about it, zinc may play a role in hair tissue health. But if you’re going bald, don’t expect a daily dose of zinc to turn that around.
What are signs of zinc deficiency?
Among those who follow a well-balanced diet, zinc deficiency is pretty rare. However, some signs that you may need more zinc include an altered sense of smell and taste and a poor immune system.
- Zinc. Fact sheet for consumers. National Institutes of Health.
- Rita Wegmüller, et al. Zinc Absorption by Young Adults from Supplemental Zinc Citrate Is Comparable with That from Zinc Gluconate and Higher than from Zinc Oxide. (2014). The Journal of Nutrition. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.181487.