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Which zinc supplement is best?

Whether it’s recommended you take a zinc supplement or you are simply picking up a bottle for cold and flu season, you may find zinc helpful. Our top recommendation for most users is Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance, thanks to its well-balanced blend of zinc and copper that offers effective immunity boosting. However, your situation may require a different option. 

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 keep the immune system strong. It may also reduce the risk of developing age-related diseases such as 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 zinc supplement, though some 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 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. 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 comes 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 best options, since the body can absorb them quicker than tablets.


The recommended daily allowance of zinc is 8 milligrams for women and 11 mg for men. However, most supplements contain more than that, because your body won’t absorb the entirety.

Most people should look for a zinc supplement of 15 to 30 mg. You can also find zinc supplements with 50 to 100 mg, but you should speak with your doctor before taking these, since the tolerable upper intake level for most people is 40 mg.

Absorption rate

In addition to certain forms of supplements, the body absorbs specific types of zinc more easily. 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.

What you can expect to pay for zinc supplements

Zinc supplements usually cost 5-30 cents per serving. All-natural, vegan-friendly and sugar-free options generally cost toward the upper end of the price spectrum, as do those mixed with other immune-boosting ingredients.

Zinc supplement FAQ

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 zinc may have 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 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 are 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 over-the-counter medications, so speak with your doctor before taking zinc supplements.

What is the best zinc supplement?

Top zinc supplement

Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance

Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance

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 unsuitable for vegans or vegetarians.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Top zinc supplement for the money

Nature's Way Zinc Chelate

Nature’s Way Zinc Chelate

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’s 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.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Worth checking out

Solaray OptiZinc

Solaray OptiZinc

What you need to know: It contains a patented zinc complex formulated specifically with bioavailability in mind. 

What you’ll love: It has added vitmain 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.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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