Many dietary supplements on the market make important health claims, but not many stand up to the rigor of scientific testing and research. One supplement that delivers on the majority of its claims is zinc.
In addition to likely shortening the duration of the common cold (the jury is still out on this one), zinc supplements can also help boost your immune response, regulate blood sugar, slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration, and treat acne. And these are just a few scientifically supported health benefits of this essential nutrient.
With so many zinc supplements on the market, it can be challenging to decipher which one is best for you. We’ve researched which supplements stand out regarding price, formulation, effectiveness, and more. Read our 2023 guide to learn more about the products we recommend.
If you’re in a hurry, check out our top six recommendations below.
- Best for most people: Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate
- Best liquid: Peak Performance Raw Liquid Zinc
- Best tablet: MegaFood Zinc
- Best lozenges: Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges
- Best for vegans: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
- Best budget pick: Swanson Zinc Gluconate
Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate
Thorne’s Zinc supplement contains zinc picolinate - possibly the most bioavailable form of Zinc on the market.
One capsule a day promotes immune, reproductive, eye, and skin health. Subscribe to save 10%. All purchases are covered by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
- Zinc supplements: top considerations
- How our top recommendations compare
- What is zinc?
- How zinc supplements work
- Are zinc supplements a good choice for you?
- Are zinc supplements safe?
- Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate
- Peak Performance Raw Liquid Zinc
- MegaFood Zinc
- Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges
- Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
- Swanson Zinc Gluconate
- Zinc supplement FAQ
- Why you should trust us
We used several criteria to evaluate zinc supplements, including cost, ingredients, effectiveness, safety, and convenience. Keep reading to find out how our top picks fared in each category.
Winners: Thorne and Garden of Life
Both Thorne and Garden of Life impressed us with their ingredient lists but for different reasons. Thorne includes 30mg of zinc per serving and not much else, and the supplement is free from gluten, dairy, and soy. It’s a simple and straightforward formula that delivers a high dose of zinc. On the other hand, Garden of Life packs their zinc supplement with various vegan ingredients, including vitamin C (60mg), probiotics, and 23 fruits and vegetables. The supplement also contains 30mg of zinc per serving and is free from dairy, soy, GMOs, gluten, and artificial ingredients. When choosing a zinc supplement, you can decide if you want one that’s pure zinc or one that contains other beneficial components.
Thorne’s zinc capsule is the most effective supplement in this guide because it includes zinc picolinate, one of the most bioavailable forms of zinc. This means that the zinc used in Thorne’s supplements is easily absorbed by the body, providing a higher likelihood of boosting your zinc levels. Some forms of zinc are not absorbed well or have a lower bioavailability than zinc picolinate; they still might somewhat increase your levels of zinc, but your chances of that happening increase with a supplement that contains a highly bioavailable form.
Swanson is our winner in the cost category because it offers an almost 8-month supply of zinc supplements for less than $5. This is considerably less than the other zinc supplements in this guide but without sacrificing quality. The supplement contains zinc gluconate, one of the forms of zinc most easily absorbed by the body. While Swanson does not offer a subscription option, it does offer free shipping on orders over $50 and a 30-day money-back guarantee. When it comes to value, you can’t really do better than what Swanson has to offer.
Thorne and MegaFood are tied for safety because both companies are invested in providing pure, high-quality products. Thorne performs four rounds of in-house testing on all ingredients and manufactures their supplements in a cGMP-certified facility. Thorne’s zinc supplement is also NSF-certified for sport, meaning that it is free from all banned substances. MegaFood is a certified B corporation, meaning the company invests in social and environmental accountability. Thus, their supplements are rigorously tested both internally and by third-party labs. If you choose a product from either of these companies, you can rest assured that it is safe and clean.
Winner: Peak Performance
Peak Performance’s zinc supplement is the only liquid on our list, contributing to its designation as the most convenient pick. Liquid supplements, in general, are easy to take and don’t require remembering complicated dosing instructions or scheduling. The same is true for Peak Performance — take one dropper full of liquid once a day with a meal for best results. That’s all you need to do to benefit from all of zinc’s healthy properties.
|Thorne||Peak Performance||MegaFood||Life Extension||Garden of Life||Swanson|
|Cost for one order||$17||$20||$18||$9||$12||$4|
|Number of servings||60||50||60||30||60||250|
|Price per serving||$0.28||$0.40||$0.30||$0.30||$0.20||$0.02|
|Zinc per serving (mg)||30||15||22.5||18.75||30||50|
|Subscribe & save?||
|Money-back guarantee (days)||60||30||30||365||30||30|
Zinc is a trace mineral and an essential nutrient found in many common foods that helps your body grow and develop cells. Your body needs only a small amount of trace minerals to function well. Essential nutrients aren’t produced by the body and must be obtained through diet. Many people get enough zinc in their regular diet, and zinc deficiencies are uncommon. But, higher levels of zinc may be necessary for people who need assistance with cell growth and development (like people who have had surgery or are pregnant).
Because it supports cell growth, zinc supplements can help with:
- Protein and DNA synthesis
- Wound healing
- Recovery from the common cold
- Eye health (specifically reversing macular degeneration)
- Cardiovascular health
Many foods contain zinc, including:
- Meat (poultry, seafood, beef, pork)
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Fortified breakfast cereals
When shopping for a zinc supplement, you may notice that zinc comes in a few different forms. More research is needed to determine which form of zinc is the most bioavailable and effective. Here are the typical forms of zinc used in supplements:
- Zinc gluconate
- Zinc sulfate
- Zinc acetate
- Zinc picolinate
- Zinc citrate
- Zinc monomethionine
The following chart (adapted from the National Institutes of Health) shows the daily recommended amount of zinc from birth to adulthood.
|Birth to 6 months||2mg||2mg|
The daily recommended amount of zinc increases if you are pregnant or lactating:
- Pregnant teen: 12mg
- Lactating teen: 13mg
- Pregnant adult: 11mg
- Lactating adult: 12mg
You may also want to increase your zinc intake if you stick to a vegan or vegetarian diet, take certain prescription medications, live with an alcohol abuse disorder, or have GI issues. It is possible to have a zinc deficiency, which can lead to some severe symptoms, including:
- Lowered immune response
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Eye and skin sores
- Slow wound healing
These issues are often successfully corrected with supplements or dietary changes. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms and are concerned about your zinc levels.
While zinc supplements can help fix a zinc deficiency, they also provide your body with enough zinc to support cell growth, repair, and development. This leads to many health benefits like increased immune response and helps with acne and blood sugar management. Keep reading to learn about how zinc supplementation could benefit you.
It’s well known in the medical community that zinc levels impact immunity. Zinc deficiency lowers immune response, and supplementation with zinc can improve immunity. Zinc can also treat and prevent viral infections, and it may shorten the common cold (but doesn’t impact severity). Getting the recommended amount of zinc could also reduce inflammation and treat respiratory infections.
Studies show that zinc can help manage blood sugar, in part by improving insulin sensitivity. A zinc deficiency is connected to low glycemic control in patients with Type 2 diabetes, meaning that those with low zinc levels are less likely to be able to control their blood glucose levels. Zinc supplementation can improve fasting glucose levels in people with and without diabetes, indicating that it could help prevent or manage the condition.
Some scientific research suggests that zinc supplementation could help improve heart health, reducing factors for heart disease and improving cholesterol. While more research needs to be done, the preliminary connections between zinc and a healthy heart are promising.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that impacts older adults, progressively causing central vision loss. Some studies show that supplementation with zinc can slow the progression of AMD, but more research is needed. Zinc deficiency may also contribute to other eye-related issues, but there is no evidence yet that zinc supplementation prevents these issues.
Zinc has also shown promising results in treating acne, with some studies revealing that people with acne tend to have lower zinc levels. Zinc supplementation leads to fewer pimples, especially in those patients who took oral doses of zinc sulfate. In addition to acne, zinc deficiency has been associated with various other skin conditions.
Zinc supplements are a good choice if you are experiencing a zinc deficiency or want to boost your zinc levels. This is especially true for pregnant or lactating people or those who don’t get enough zinc because of a restrictive diet.
You may benefit from a zinc supplement if you:
- Are vegan or vegetarian
- Have an alcohol use disorder
- Are over age 50
- Live with a chronic illness or digestive issue
- Have Type 2 diabetes
- Want stronger sperm
- Live with macular degeneration
- Have sickle cell anemia
You could also benefit from zinc lozenges if you are fighting off the common cold. Studies show that using zinc lozenges can shorten the duration of a cold (but they can’t prevent one). Zinc has also been shown in a few studies to help treat certain viruses, including COVID-19.
Some prescription medications deplete zinc. You may benefit from zinc supplementation if you take any of these, but you should consult your doctor before starting any new supplement. Be cautious about your zinc levels if you take:
- ACE inhibitors
- Chemotherapy drugs
Who should avoid them
You should avoid zinc supplements if you get enough zinc in your diet. The tolerable upper intake level of zinc consumption per day is 40mg for most adults. If you get too much zinc, you could experience side effects like:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Lowered immunity
- Reduced levels of HDL cholesterol
You should also avoid these supplements if you take certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Zinc can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications like NSAIDs and immunosuppressants. Consult your doctor before beginning any new supplement, including zinc.
Zinc supplements are safe for most healthy adults when taken as directed. You should not take more than 40mg of zinc per day, with most adult women needing 8mg and adult men needing 11mg. Taking excess zinc can result in side effects like stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
Even taking the recommended dose of zinc can sometimes cause stomach upset. If you take a zinc supplement and notice this side effect, try taking your next dose with a meal. If you experience more severe side effects, discontinue use and contact your doctor.
Best for most people
- Uses the most bioavailable form of zinc
- Pure formula that is NSF-certified
- May help with eye and skin health
- Take only one capsule per day
- 60-day satisfaction guarantee
- Subscribe and save 10%
- Pay a little extra for NSF-certified capsules
Thorne Research’s Zinc Picolinate supplement is our top pick because of its pure formula that includes a readily absorbable form of zinc. Some studies show that zinc picolinate may be the form of zinc with the highest bioavailability, though more research needs to be conducted. If this claim is valid, Thorne Research’s product could be the most easily absorbed on our list, giving you a higher chance of raising your zinc levels and benefitting from supplementation.
Each capsule provides 30mg of zinc picolinate, and the company suggests taking one capsule daily. The product is NSF Certified for Sport, meaning that it does not include any banned substances and is safe for use by competitive athletes. It also does not contain gluten, dairy, or soy.
This supplement offers a variety of potential benefits, including:
- Immune support
- Reproductive health
- Eye and skin health
- Reduction in oxidative stress
- Building of lean muscle mass
Thorne Research offers bulk savings, a subscription option, and free ground shipping on all orders placed within the contiguous U.S. They provide a 60-day satisfaction guarantee — contact the company within 60 days of your purchase for a refund, store credit, or product replacement.
Here is the price breakdown for a one-time purchase:
- 60 capsules: $17
- 180 capsules: $35
- 60 capsules (NSF-certified): $18
If you choose the subscription option, you’ll save 10% on every refill order or 20% if you subscribe to three or more products. Your order will auto-ship every 1-4 months, depending on your preference.
- Uses nanoparticles for better absorption
- Simple dosing instructions
- Manufactured in a cGMP-certified facility
- Bulk purchases save 10-20%
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No flavored options
- One bottle is just shy of a two-month supply
We chose Peak Performance Raw Liquid Zinc as our best liquid because of its high bioavailability and simple dosing. This liquid is made with nanotized zinc, creating extremely tiny particles (called nanoparticles) that are more easily absorbed by the body. The formula is also very easy to take. Simply place a dropper full (1ml) of liquid on the tongue and swallow once daily with a meal. This dosing provides 15mg of zinc per day.
Peak Performance’s product may help with a variety of health issues, including:
- Prostate health
- Heart health
- Protein synthesis
- Hormone balance
This vegan product is third-party tested for safety and purity and is manufactured in a cGMP-certified facility. The liquid does not contain:
- Artificial sugars
- Refined flours
Peak Performance partners with Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organization that helps children at risk of malnutrition access vitamins. For each product sold, the company donates one year of vitamins to a child in need.
Each container includes 50 drops of zinc, which is a 50-day supply. One bottle costs $19.99 plus standard shipping, but Peak Performance offers bulk savings discounts with free shipping:
- 3-pack: $54 ($18/bottle)
- 6-pack: $96 ($16/bottle)
Peak Performance offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all orders.
- Includes 22.5mg of zinc per serving
- Includes superfoods like spinach and beetroot
- May help boost immunity and tissue development
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Subscribe and save 15%
- Contains yeast
- Proprietary blends offer indistinct ingredient amounts
MegaFood Zinc is our winner for best tablet because this formulation includes 22.5mg of zinc per serving in addition to MegaFood’s proprietary Nourishing Food Blend that provides a bevy of natural ingredients, including spinach, carrot, broccoli, beetroot, and parsley. This combination of ingredients offers the immune-boosting effects of zinc along with the nourishment of well-known superfoods.
In addition to immunity, Megafood Zinc also provides the following health benefits:
- Tissue development
- Wound recovery
- Enzyme function
Each container comes with 60 tablets, which is a two-month supply. For best results, take one tablet daily with a beverage and with or without food.
A 60-day supply of MegaFood Zinc costs $17.99 for a one-time purchase, and a 120-count bottle costs $27.99. MegaFood offers a subscription program that will save you 15% and includes free two-day shipping. You select the auto-ship frequency, from every 30 to 180 days. A 30-day money-back guarantee covers all orders.
- Provides 18.75mg of zinc per serving
- Choose between peppermint or citrus orange flavors
- Boosts immunity
- 12-month money-back guarantee
- Subscribe and save 33%
- Contains 4g added sugar
- May cause upset stomach
The efficacy of zinc acetate lozenges regarding common cold symptoms is still inconclusive, with some studies showing that these lozenges do shorten the duration of a cold and others showing that they have zero impact. Either way, zinc lozenges are a common and popular way to ingest more zinc and boost immunity. Life Extension’s Enhanced Zinc Lozenges are our top pick for the best lozenge because they offer a pure and potent dose of zinc in two tasty flavors.
Each lozenge provides 18.75mg of zinc, and the product comes in peppermint or citrus orange flavors. The lozenges are non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian-friendly and support enzyme and immune function.
Note that zinc lozenges are not intended for long-term use and should only be used when you need an extra immunity boost or feel common cold symptoms. You should take one Life Extension lozenge every two hours, up to eight lozenges per day. Allow the lozenge to dissolve in your mouth without chewing or swallowing it whole.
A one-time purchase of 30 lozenges costs $9. Life Extension offers bulk savings and subscription discounts. If you purchase more than four bottles at once, you save 33%, with each bottle costing only $6. Choosing the auto-ship option also saves you 33% and provides free shipping. You can have your products shipped every 1-12 months.
If you choose a one-time purchase, standard shipping rates apply. They vary from $5.50 to $17.50, depending on location. A one-year money-back guarantee covers all orders.
Best for vegans
- Certified vegan, kosher, and non-GMO
- Contains vitamin C and 23 fruits and vegetables
- May help with immunity and digestion
- 30-day return policy
- Free shipping on orders over $25
- No subscription or bulk purchase discounts
Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Raw Zinc is our best formula for vegans because it includes 30mg of zinc per serving along with vitamin C (60mg), probiotics, trace minerals, and 23 fruits and vegetables. The formulation also does not contain dairy, soy, GMOs, gluten, synthetic binders, fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or additives and is certified vegan and kosher.
Like most zinc supplements, the product may help boost immunity, but it can also help with:
- Skin and eye health
- Prostate health
What makes the capsules “raw” is that the contents are produced without high heat, meaning that all of the ingredients retain their natural properties. Garden of Life states that this makes consuming the capsules similar to eating raw fruits and vegetables, including:
Adults should take two capsules per day with water and with or without food. You can also open the capsule and empty the contents into a beverage in place of swallowing it whole.
One bottle contains 60 capsules and costs $11.99, and orders under $25 pay standard shipping fees. The company offers free shipping on orders over $25, and a 30-day return policy covers all purchases. On the Garden of Life site, you can use the “Find in Store” tool to locate a retail location near you.
Best budget pick
- Order an 8-month supply for less than $5
- Includes a highly absorbable form of zinc
- May help with immunity and prostate health
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Contains gelatin
- No subscription or bulk savings
- High dose may cause side effects
Swanson’s Zinc Gluconate is our best budget pick because this product is undeniably the most affordable zinc product on the market. A bottle of 250 capsules, which provides a little over an 8-month supply, costs only $4.34 ($0.02/capsule). Even though it is budget-friendly, this product does not skimp on potency or quality, with each capsule providing 50mg of zinc gluconate, a highly bioavailable form of zinc.
This supplement is designed to help with:
- Prostate health
- Eye health
- Overall well-being
For best results, take one capsule daily with water and a meal.
One bottle of 250 capsules costs $4.34. The company offers free shipping on orders over $50, but you’d have to buy many bottles to reach that amount. Unfortunately, you may end up paying more in shipping for a bottle of Swanson’s zinc than you will for the actual product, as their standard shipping rate is $5.99. Even with this shipping fee, Swanson’s product is still cheaper than many of the other products on this list. A 30-day money-back guarantee covers all orders.
What are the benefits of taking a zinc supplement?
Zinc benefits many body functions, including immunity, DNA and protein synthesis, wound healing, and skin health. Taking zinc may also shorten the length of the common cold and help with symptoms of other viral and respiratory infections.
Is it okay to take zinc every day?
As with all dietary supplements, follow package dosing instructions when taking a zinc supplement. It is generally safe to take zinc every day as long as you are ingesting less than 40mg daily — this includes combined diet and supplements. For most people, zinc supplementation is only necessary for short periods (while healing a wound, for example) and is not needed long term. Long-term use of zinc can lead to side effects like low copper levels or compromised immunity. Because the amount of daily zinc required can vary from person to person, it’s essential to check with your healthcare provider before starting a zinc supplement.
How much zinc should I take daily?
The daily recommended amount of zinc varies by age, gender, and health status. Healthy adult women generally need about 8mg of zinc per day, while men need about 11mg. This amount changes if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or living with certain illnesses or conditions. Avoid taking more than 40mg of zinc per day, as this can lead to severe side effects.
What is the best form of zinc to take?
More research needs to be conducted to reveal which form of zinc is the most effective. We do know that zinc sulfate is usually the most inexpensive form, but it may also be the form the body has the toughest time absorbing. Experts recommend zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc glycerate, and zinc monomethionine as more bioavailable options.
Does zinc cure the common cold?
Scientists and researchers still have a mixed response to whether or not zinc helps treat the common cold. Some studies have shown that taking zinc lozenges or syrup can shorten the length of a cold by up to one day, but researchers point out inconsistencies in these studies, including dosing and trial period length. Still, some experts contend that zinc slows or stops the multiplication of the rhinovirus, which is responsible for the common cold.
What foods are high in zinc?
You can find zinc in many dietary staples that make up a well-balanced diet. These foods include oysters, beef, crab, lobster, pork, legumes, fortified breakfast cereals, poultry, seeds, dairy products, beans, nuts, and grains.
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