Choosing the Best Zinc Supplements – Top 10 Brands

Best Zinc Supplement Brands

In the fitness and health industry we tend to put all of our focus on exercise and diet, especially macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. However, a healthy and balanced diet of micronutrients may be just as crucial and beneficial to overall health. Micronutrients are generally classified as vitamins and minerals, and deficiencies in these areas can lead to a variety of health concerns.

One of the most important minerals we have is Zinc. While it may not receive the same fanfare, or be as well-known protein or carbs, it is an essential mineral to health and plays a diverse role of functions in our body’s physiology. We get a certain amount of zinc in our general diet; however it isn’t always enough and certain populations require even more for optimal health.

In this guide, we’ll break down in detail exactly what zinc is and how it is beneficial, who is best suited to utilize it as a supplement and the best zinc products available on the market today.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is in fact a metal that we use within our bodies for a variety of functions. It is commonly considered an essential trace metal, as we do not require large amounts of zinc for optimal function, however it is not always readily found in our diets thus supplementation may help.

Zinc’s function in our body is diverse and important. It is involved in over 100 different enzymes and helping them to function at their highest capacity. In addition, it plays a key role in our immune system function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division.

Having a sufficient amount of zinc is critical to our body’s health and optimal physiology, and perhaps most importantly it must be replenished regularly. Our bodies do not store zinc naturally, thus it must constantly be replenished through diet or supplementation to maintain optimal levels. In addition, certain populations such as children may need more zinc than standard adults, making supplementation and diet crucial.

More than 2 billion people around the world currently suffer from a zinc deficiency, which can lead to all manner of health conditions ranging from birth effects and stunted growth to nausea, diarrhea, and a compromised immune system to greater incidence of disease and infection.

Production of Zinc

Zinc is one of the more abundant elements in the Earth’s crust and is mined industrially throughout Australia, Asia, and Europe,

This element is one of the most widely used metals in the world, and there are numerous refining and manufacturing processes which can undergo to create various forms of zinc suitable for industrial, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical purposes.

What Types of Zinc are There?

The two types of zinc and most often find in zinc supplements are zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate, but there are many other types of zinc that are used in other areas of life.

Examples of these include zinc chloride which is used in deodorant and zinc sulfide which is used in luminescent paints. Applications of zinc extends far beyond this and it can also be combined with other metals create alloys suitable for use in construction and manufacturing.

What Is Its Biological Role?

In the body, zinc acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that work to fight damage to our cells caused by harmful compounds referred to as free radicals. Fighting this cell damage helps to slow the effects of aging, and assists in healthy cell division.

Zinc in particular is also known to deter to spread of cancer cells, only helping healthy cells divide. As such it is sometimes used as a holistic cancer treatment. Zinc is also a cofactor for many biochemical reactions within the body that affect hormone production. Even a slight drop in your body’s levels of zinc can cause hormonal imbalance that lead to problems like infertility or impotence in addition to changes in mood that may be unpleasant.

Zinc fortifies your immune system and can even help the duration of time for which we experience cold symptoms. Another popular holistic use for zinc is to fight diabetes. Diabetes causes problems controlling sugar levels because insulin becomes unable to do the job effectively.

Zinc binds to excess glucose, ensuring that it is properly store in the body rather than creating a spike in blood glucose levels. In addition to all of these benefits, it can even help to treat diarrhea and high blood pressure.

Which Foods Contain Zinc?

The best dietary sources of zinc are generally foods high in protein. This is true of both meat and vegetable sources, but the body will generally absorb zinc better from meat than vegetables. This is because many nutrients work as anti-nutrients towards zinc.

This means that they prevent zinc from being absorbed into the body. Some zinc-rich foods are: lamb, beef, chickpeas, cashew, pumpkin seeds, and yogurt. For individuals following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it may be necessary to consume p to 50% more than the recommended daily allowance of zinc, due to the body’s difficulty absorbing it when it it coupled with certain nutrients found in vegetables.

It is important to note that the zinc content of different soils will be a major determining factor in the final zinc content of various fruits, vegetables, and the foods mentioned above.

Nevertheless, the above-mentioned foods tend to be the richest sources of zinc, especially wheat germ and wheat bran.

Benefits of Zinc

Zinc is one of the most important minerals or human health, playing a crucial role almost all enzymatic function within the body.[1]

Zinc ions are used in the biosynthesis of various amino acids[2] and is essential for cognitive function, sexual health and reproduction, liver health, and bone mineral density.[3]

Zinc plays a vital role in DNA and RNA scripting, as well as the formation of proteins and cellular structures. In fact, zinc is directly responsible for a process known as zinc signaling which is used to describe the way certain types of cells communicate with one another, particularly cells in the immune system, digestive system, and prostate.[4]

Many of these reported benefits do make a lot of sense when you consider the number of systems and processes that rely on zinc in the human body, but the evidence for many of these is scant best so it is very difficult to say for sure.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17286818

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19177216

[3] Berdanier, Carolyn D.; Dwyer, Johanna T.; Feldman, Elaine B. (2007). Handbook of Nutrition and Food.

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17728842

Who Can Benefit from Zinc?

The most obvious candidates for zinc supplementation are those who have been suffering from diarrhea, especially children who are malnourished or otherwise deficient in zinc.

The zinc appears to be highly beneficial for reproductive and prostate health information, with some links shown between zinc and testosterone production.

Although much of the benefits associated with zinc and testosterone production are anecdotal definitely warrants some consideration if you are looking for an alternative supplement that you can use to improve your loss or muscle building on progress in the gym.

Because of the immune-boosting benefits of zinc it may be worth keeping a bottle of zinc gluconate on hand for the colder months of the year when flu season starts, especially if you work in a busy office environment or otherwise exposed to a lot of people on a regular basis.

The difficulty with establishing the benefits of zinc supplementation is that the zinc supplements are typically not regulated by the FDA, and many of the studies showing some of these benefits are highly flawed biased in some way.

Conditions such as depression, anorexia, ADHD, and the other issues mentioned above are very serious in nature so if you are considering using a single product as an alternative form of treatment then it is highly advisable to speak to your doctor or physician before doing so.

Is Zinc Useful for Athletes and Bodybuilders?

Zinc definitely appears to be a useful supplement for bodybuilding, likely due to its close relationship with testosterone production and prostate health.

Doses of elemental zinc ranging from 10 mg to 50 mg depending on your body weight and existing diet are worth considering if you are training with a lots of volume, frequency, and intensity, and want an extra product that may help as a recovery supplement.

As we have mentioned above, many of these bodybuilding-related benefits associated with the zinc are purely anecdotal; however, if you’re willing to take a chance on an as of yet proven area of zinc supplementation and that is your prerogative. Just be sure to start on the lower end of the spectrum and use a low dose initially.

Does Zinc Have any Side Effects?

Excessive consumption of zinc can result in the impaired absorption of other essential minerals such as copper and magnesium, making correct dosing and abstinence from long-term use very important.

Malabsorption copper and magnesium has been associated with doses of zinc ranging from 100 mg to 300 mg per day[1], and there is also an increased risk of poor blood cholesterol levels when zinc is taken in excess.[2]

While there are some potential health benefits to be gained from supplementing with vitamin D it is important that you do not take it lightly and instead exercise caution by starting with a low dose and not using it consistently on a long-term basis.

As with any dietary supplement, we recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult their doctor or physician prior to use. This also applies to people under the age of 18 and individuals who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions or who are taking any kind of prescription medication.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17222649

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2407097

Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.

Using Zinc Supplements

Whether or not you actually need to use a zinc supplement in the first place is a matter of medical discussion, and one that you should to your doctor about if you have any doubts.

From the above information we can see that the zinc should be taken with food and in the presence of a diet rich in other essential minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and so on; if these other minerals are being neglected then zinc supplementation should be the last thing on your mind.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from a zinc deficiency then again, you should discuss this with your physician to receive an official diagnosis and ensure the correct measures are taken.

How Much Zinc to Take

The USDA recommended daily intake for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women[1].

Exactly how much zinc you take in the form of zinc you choose is going to be largely dependent upon the purpose you are hoping observed.

Short term zinc gluconate supplementation for treatment of the common cold as advice in the region of 10 to 25 mg taken every few hours.

Other conditions such as acne, osteoporosis, age-related macular degeneration, muscle cramps, and even stomach ulcers appear to be all somewhat treatable through the use of zinc, with doses of elemental zinc ranging from 30 mg to 135 mg per day.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

Consuming large amounts of zinc all at one time can have negative digestive effects. Depending on the size of the dose, this can range from digestive discomfort to vomiting. High levels of zinc in the body can prevent it from absorbing certain types of medications, such as antibiotics. It can also prevent your body from absorbing copper, creating a copper deficiency in addition to the zinc toxicity.

Unfortunately the vicious cycle continues; copper helps the body absorb iron, so copper deficiency leads to iron deficient anemia. Consuming too much zinc means your body misses out on a whole lot of other things it needs to function properly, and can be quite a downhill slide.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

Zinc deficiency can result in skin and eye sores, hair loss, diarrhea, slower wound healing and lower levels of alertness. It can also cause slow growth in infants and children,delay sexual maturity in teens, and cause impotence in adult men. Luckily, zinc deficiency is uncommon for most Americans because of how plentiful it is in most protein sources.

Populations who may be at higher risk for zinc deficiencies are vegetarians, vegans, anyone who has had weight loss surgery, alcoholics, people with sickle cell anemia, and anyone with digestive disease such as Crohn’s that prevent proper absorption of certain foods and nutrients.

Choosing a Good Zinc Supplement

When choosing a zinc supplement it is important to understand that various forms of zinc compound yield different levels of total elemental zinc.

Zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate all offer varying levels of potency so it is important that you check the product you are using to ensuring optimal dose of the benefits you are hoping to receive.

Most zinc products will have little variability in their ingredients, generally it will just be zinc, therefore you’ll have to identify which version of zinc is the right choice for you and look for that option. Zinc comes in capsule forms, powders to mix with drinks, drops and more. It is also often combined with other minerals which is a factor consider.

Be sure when selecting a product to review any additional ingredients aside from zinc, such as additional supplements, fillers, artificial additives etc. as these may carry their own side effects or dilute the quality of the product.

Finally, as with any good product decision, look for reputable brands that are backed by strong scientific backgrounds, as well as offering a strong value. A good rule of thumb in terms of comparing price and value is to evaluate the price per dose rather than overall dose, as most products will have varying sizes.

Aside from this the main determining factor will be a budget you are working with and the value for money that each product offers, so keep reading below for more on this.

[1] Connie W. Bales; Christine Seel Ritchie (May 21, 2009). Handbook of Clinical Nutrition and Aging. Springer. pp. 151

Top 10 Zinc Products

We have put together a list of our top 10 recommended zinc supplements. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10 and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for a zinc supplement. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!


1. Now Foods Zinc Picolinate

Now Foods Zinc Picolinate

NOW Foods is one of the top supplement brands available and they have produced an excellent product. Zinc Picolinate is one of the most bioavailable forms of zinc available, providing superior absorption and a higher rate of mineral uptake in bodily tissues. With 50 mg in each capsule it is one of the best zinc options on the market.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 50mg zinc picolonate per serving
  • Comes in capsules
  • Highly absorbable, excellent bioavailability
  • Well-respected brand
  • Affordable pricing

Company Profile:

NOW Foods is the maker of this product, and they are considered to be one of the companies in the greater supplement industry. For decades, they have produced products that are very high in quality yet also specialize in simplicity. They have a wealth of products, over 1,000 and are a major player in the industry.

Why We Recommend It:

This zinc supplement from NOW Foods is one of the best on the market, with superior absorption and bioavailability. It also delivers a strong dosage with every capsule and does so at an affordable price range, making it one of the best options available for additional zinc in your diet.

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2. Garden of Life Vitamin Code – Zinc

Garden Of Life Vitamin Code Zinc

Garden Of Life Vitamin Code-Zinc is raw zinc combined with the trademark organic and all-natural blends Garden Of Life is known for. The zinc dose is strong, and it has quite a few additional minerals and micronutrients making this an excellent all-around health supplement.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 30mg raw zinc
  • 60mg vitamin C
  • RAW Organic Fruit and Vegetable Blend
  • Trace Mineral Blend
  • RAW Probiotic and Enzyme Blend
  • Well-known brand
  • Strong dose of zinc plus many other micronutrients
  • Additional vitamin C makes it a great immune system booster

Company Profile:

Garden of Life, the maker of Vitamin Code-Zinc, is a popular manufacturer of health and fitness supplements, along with health foods and related products. They have been a leader in the health supplement industry and specialize in utilizing raw whole foods and organic sources for their products.

Why We Recommend It:

This zinc product from Garden Of Life delivers all the zinc you would want plus a host of additional vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C which works with zinc for improved immune system strength and function. It is one of the most well-rounded zinc supplements to be found and is an excellent product for overall health and zinc supplementation.

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3. Nature’s Bounty Chelated Zinc

Natures Bounty Chelated Zinc

Nature’s Bounty Chelated Zinc is a quality zinc supplement with an effective amount of zinc in every serving. It is chelated zinc which gives the compound longer shelf life than many other forms of zinc, meaning it can be used daily or as needed and stored for later.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 50mg zinc gluconate per serving
  • Zinc has been chelated to gluconate, giving it longer shelf life
  • All-natural
  • Lasts longer than many comparable products
  • Low price and great value

Company Profile:

Nature’s Bounty is one of the largest supplement and vitamin manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1971, their products can be found in many local stores and retailers. They have been producing quality products for decades and continue to produce quality vitamins and supplements.

Why We Recommend It:

This zinc supplement is unique in that it has been chelated and thus has a longer shelf life than most other zinc products, making it ideal for long term or occasional use without having to worry about it losing effectiveness. At an affordable price, it is one of the best values on the market.

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4. Optimum Nutrition ZMA

Optimum Nutrition Zma

Optimum Nutrition ZMA is one of the ideal zinc supplements for athletes, combining zinc with magnesium and vitamin B6 for improved athletic performance and physique. Optimum Nutrition is well known for providing excellent supplements for athletes and this is no exception.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 30mg zinc
  • 450mg magnesium
  • 5mg vitamin B6
  • Designed for athletes
  • Well-known brand for athletic nutrition

Company Profile:

Optimum Nutrition, ON as it otherwise known, is one of the leading companies in the nutritional supplement industry and is the producer of ZMA. They are best known for their Gold Standard line, particularly protein powders, however they are well known and respected for using scientifically proven ingredients and strategies in all of their products, making them a successful and respected brand.

Why We Recommend It:

This is an excellent choice from a very well-known retailer for athletes or fitness enthusiasts interested in improving their performance or physique. That being said, it may not be ideal for those looking for a purer zinc supplement without additional ingredients.

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5. Ultimate Nutrition Zinc

Ultimate Nutrition Zinc

One of the simplest and effective zinc options available on this list comes from Ultimate Nutrition. It delivers 30mg of zinc per serving with no extras or unnecessary fillers for a clean and quality product.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 30mg zinc per serving
  • No fillers or artificial ingredients
  • Very affordable and a good value

Company Profile:

Ultimate Nutrition was founded in 1987 by Victor Rubino, an amateur powerlifter. While most of their products are generally geared towards athletes and improving athletic performance or physique, they have a variety of products for all kinds, and as a family-owned and operated company they continue to deliver great products.

Why We Recommend It:

One of the simplest products available, Ultimate Nutrition Zinc is one of the best options available for a zinc supplement that delivers a manageable dose at an affordable price with no extra fillers or unnecessary ingredients.

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6. Nature Made Zinc

Nature Made Zinc

Nature Made Zinc is one of the best choices for a zinc supplement for those just beginning to try zinc as a supplement. It has a smaller dose of only 30mg, has a long shelf life, is affordable and has no extraneous ingredients.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 30mg zinc gluconate per serving
  • Has a long shelf life
  • Very affordable
  • A great choice for those new to zinc supplementation

Company Profile:

Nature Made has been in the nutritional supplement industry for over 40 years and are a very well-respected brand. They are committed to using scientifically backed formulas in their products to deliver quality and effective nutrition options for their customers.

Why We Recommend It:

Nature Made Zinc is a good choice for those looking for a zinc supplement that is safe, simple and effective. It would not be ideal for athletes or those looking for a more potent dosage with only 30mg of zinc per serving but is ideal for a beginner.

7. Source Naturals OptiZinc

Source Naturals Optizinc

One of the more unique zinc supplements on the market, Source Naturals OptiZinc combines a reasonable amount of zinc per serving, 30mg, with copper, usually considered the biological antagonist to zinc. Thus, the dosage is lower than some competitors but is a good source for natural zinc.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 30mg Zinc Monomethionine Complex
  • 300mcg copper
  • Uses a proprietary zinc blend
  • Combines zinc and copper
  • Well-known brand

Company Profile:

Source Naturals is one of the pioneers of the nutritional supplement industry. Founded in 1982, they combined herbs, nutraceuticals and nutrients for an innovative and effective approach to health as part of a holistic approach to health and wellness.

Why We Recommend It:

The unique approach of combining zinc with copper is interesting, however the zinc dosage with this particular product is low and the zinc blend is a bit ambiguous, thus moving this product farther down the list. It comes from a well-known company and brand however and is a solid product.

8. Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance

Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance

Zinc Balance from Jarrow Formulas also offers a zinc and copper combo, though it uses zinc L-monomethionine for a more absorbable product.  It has one of the lower dosages of zinc on this list as well, making it the ideal choice for those needing a small amount of zinc.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 15mg zinc L-monomethionine
  • 1g copper gluconate
  • Higher amount of copper than in most options
  • Lower dose of zinc
  • More expensive than most

Company Profile:

Jarrow Formulas, based in sunny Los Angeles, California, is a nutritional supplement company with a wide variety of fitness supplements. They have been in business since 1988 and continue to distribute quality products throughout North America.

Why We Recommend It:

This product is ideal for those looking for a simple and effective zinc supplement that has a lower dosage as most have more than the recommended dietary allowance. This is a great option for getting just enough zinc but not too much.

9. Solaray – Zinc Copper

Solaray Zinc Copper

Solaray Zinc Copper is one of the most unique zinc options on the market, offering iodine from a kelp source in addition to zinc and copper. It also has a potent serving of zinc in each dose and is vegetarian friendly.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 50mg zinc amino acid chelate
  • 53mcg iodine from kelp
  • 2mg copper amino acid chelate
  • Vegetarian friendly, with no common allergens in the manufacturing process
  • Higher priced than most zinc supplements
  • Amino acids are not specified, recipe is somewhat ambiguous

Company Profile:

Solaray, a part of the Nutraceutical brand family, is one of the largest and most expansive companies in the health product market. Founded in 1973 in Utah and acquired in 1993, they have over a thousand different products ranging from natural supplements to blended herbal products.

Why We Recommend It:

Solaray Zinc Copper is unique in that is provides a potent dose of zinc in each serving but also delivers iodine and copper. One of the points to consider is that the amino acids mentioned in the ingredients are not specified, thus the blend is ambiguous and the with a relatively high price point, it was not high on the list but may still be a quality product.

10. Life Extension OptiZinc

Life Extension Optizinc

Life Extension OptiZinc is a simple and effective zinc supplement, with 30mg of zinc monomethionine in each serving. It comes in vegetarian capsules for a gentle zinc supplement, ideal for those just getting started with zinc supplementation.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 30mg zinc monomethionine
  • Vegetarian capsules
  • Level of absorption may not be ideal

Company Profile:

Life Extension is naturally a dietary supplement company with an emphasis on improving longevity and helping customers live longer, healthier lives. They have been in business since the 1980’s, and in conjunction with their associated non-profit Life Extension Foundation, continue to forge ahead on their mission of life extension.

Why We Recommend It:

This product delivers an adequate though not overwhelming amount of zinc per dose, though the level of absorption is questionable as it does not give enough specifics on the style of zinc used. That being said, it is an affordable product with low risk and a good source of zinc.

Final Take

It’s important to remember that every substance your body uses is thee for a reason. Even if it occurs in barely noticeable trace amounts like with zinc, it is still an important part of your body’s delicate machinery, without which you cannot feel like your best self.

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Carl Putman

Written by Carl Putman

Carl Putman is a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level and writer on fitness, health and supplements. Over the past decade, he has worked with a wide variety of clients ranging from professional athletes and world champions to youth and general population, as well as tactical practitioners. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Based in Florida, he continues to train and coach as well as write with a passion for making a positive impact for his clients and readers.