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Best Zinc Supplements to Boost Your Immune System

If you're zinc deficient, you may be looking for a supplement. You've come to the right place.

In this article:

Zinc is a necessary trace mineral that our body relies on to carry out vital chemical reactions, grow cells, heal damaged tissues and maintain an optimal immune system. Zinc is at the center of a lot of bodily functions. The good news is that our bodies don't actually need that much zinc. 

The majority of people get all the zinc they need from their diet. Still, people with gastrointestinal disorders, those on medications that may increase zinc loss and people who are breastfeeding may need a little help in the zinc department. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should not consume more than 40 mg of zinc each day. It's a trace mineral, so our bodies don't need that much of it. If you take more than the recommended amount each day, you'll likely experience stomach distress and discomfort. It's also advised that you take zinc after a meal and avoid ingesting on an empty stomach as it can cause nausea.

The best zinc supplements are available in various forms, flavors and dosages. We pulled together a list of the top seven recommendations for zinc supplements. 

Read more: Best Multivitamins to Start Taking Today

Thorne

Thorne is a popular supplement brand that boasts third-party certifications and a team of dedicated scientists. It's a brand you can trust for the high-quality products that contain what they say they do. Products from Thorne go through multiple rounds of testing, which is not standard practice in the industry.

Thorne is our pick for the best overall zinc supplement thanks to the picolinate formula that aids absorption. This product is gluten- and GMO-free; it is also made without artificial preservatives. Thorne offers two versions of their zinc picolinate supplement -- one with 30mg of zinc, which is on the higher side of zinc supplements, and then one with 15 mg of zinc. 

These zinc supplements are made in a lab that meets the Therapeutic Goods Administration standards and NSF international. It's also NSF Certified for Sport, which means it is free of any banned substances for athletes. 

Cost: $35 for 180 30 mg capsules 

Zinc content per serving: 30 mg OR 15 mg of zinc per capsule 

Thorne Zinc Picolinate's best features:

  • This zinc supplement is NSF certified for sport, NSF international certified and meets TGA standards. 
  • Gluten and allergy-free, Thorne zinc capsules are suitable for most people. 
  • You can choose from either 15 mg or 30 mg dosage. 

Things to consider:

  • The Thorne Zinc Picolinate supplement can be difficult to find in your local grocery store. Many people have to order online.
$35 at Amazon
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Nature Made

Nature Made Zinc

Best budget zinc supplement

Nature Made is another brand in the vitamin and supplement industry that's known for its dependable products at competitive prices. Its zinc supplement is no different, so we consider it the best budget zinc supplement you can get. You just can't beat the reputation and trust Nature Made has. It's also widely available at pretty much anywhere you can buy supplements.  

The serving size is one tablet daily, which delivers 30 mg of zinc. Given this is on the higher side, it's recommended that you take it with food to avoid an upset stomach. Nature Made's zinc supplement is free of gluten, preservatives and artificial flavors or colors. 

Cost: $4.49 for 100 tablets

Zinc per serving: 30 mg of zinc per one tablet

Nature Made's best features:

  • This zinc supplement is backed by third-party tests supporting quality and purity claims. 
  • It's gluten-free and has no artificial flavors or sweeteners. 
  • It's a budget-friendly zinc supplement option. 

Things to consider:

  • Nature Made's zinc supplement is not vegan-friendly. 
  • This zinc supplement doesn't have extra vitamin and mineral content.
Now

Now Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels are an affordable and trustworthy zinc supplement. It's one of the best-chelated zinc supplements you can get. You get a large dose of zinc, which is good for those with a deficiency. Note that some reviews say that such a high zinc content does give them an upset stomach if taken on an empty stomach. 

What exactly is a chelated zinc supplement? The supplement includes a chelated agent, which helps your body absorb zinc more easily. It also allows the zinc to be more bioavailable in the body. Bioavailability measures the amount of the active form of the supplement that your body has to use. 

Each Now Foods Zinc softgel delivers 30 mg of zinc glycinate and 250 mg of pumpkin seed oil, which has been linked to improved heart and urinary tract health. These softgel zinc supplements are certified by Underwriters Laboratories and follow good manufacturing practices to ensure the quality and purity of the products. 

Cost: $9.75 for 120 softgels

Zinc content per serving: 30 mg of zinc glycinate per softgel

Now Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels best features:

  • Now Foods Zinc Softgels contain a chelated agent that helps the body absorb zinc more effectively. 
  • This is a budget-friendly zinc supplement that's widely available. 
  • User reviews suggest these softgels have a neutral taste and are easy to swallow. 
  • Now Foods zinc supplement is third-party tested. 

Things to consider:

  • Not suitable for vegans as it contains gelatin and beeswax. 
  • 30 mg of zinc is on the higher side, which may cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach. 
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Garden of Life

For vegans and others who want a zinc supplement with only raw ingredients that don't come from animal sources, consider Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc supplement. It's our pick for the best vegan zinc supplement, a whole foods-based supplement. 

In addition to 30 mg of zinc, you also get vitamin C, live probiotics and enzymes. You don't have to worry about artificial colors, sweeteners or additives. This zinc supplement is a capsule, so if you have trouble swallowing pills, you can open the capsule and pour the supplement into a beverage. 

Cost: $10.76 for 60 capsules  

Zinc content per serving: 30 mg per 2 capsules 

Garden of Life's best features:

  • Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc supplement is third-party tested for vegan, organic and gluten-free standards.
  • This zinc supplement includes vitamin C, enzymes and live probiotics. 

Things to consider:

  • This zinc supplement is not third-party tested for purity.
  • It's also more expensive than other options on the list. However, it's worth the money if you value whole-food sources that are vegan.
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Nature's Way

Nature's Way Zinc Gummies are our recommendation if you're looking for a gummy vitamin that's not loaded with extra sugars. This zinc gummy is 20 calories and includes three grams of added sugars. While other options have more than five grams of added sugar, this product still has a notable amount of added sugar. Most user reviews praise the mixed berry flavor and texture of Nature's Way Zinc Gummies. 

One unique aspect of this product is that the nutritional label provides serving suggestions and information for both adults and children. For adults, the two gummy serving offers 22 mg of zinc citrate. For children over nine, the one gummy recommendation has 11 mg of zinc. Always consult your child's doctor before adding a supplement to their diet. 

Cost: $14.24 for 120 gummies

Zinc content per serving: 22 grams per two gummies

Nature's Way Zinc Gummies' best features:

  • Positive reviews for the taste and texture of the gummies. 
  • Ingredients include organic tapioca syrup and cane sugar.

Things to consider:

  • Nature's Way zinc gummies include three grams of added sugars; while that is lower than other options, it's still something to consider.
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Life Extension

Life Extension is one of the best zinc lozenge supplements you can buy for when you're feeling ill. Lozenges are designed to dissolve in your mouth, so you don't have to worry about chewing or swallowing a pill or capsule. This zinc lozenge has a refreshing peppermint flavor.

These lozenges are a great option if you're sick and want to get over the symptoms quickly. One review of research found that taking around 80 mg of zinc lozenges each day helped shorten the duration of a common cold by 33%

Life Extension's zinc lozenges offer 18.75 mg of zinc acetate, a type of zinc linked to decreasing the length of a cold. Lozenges are different from typical zinc supplements. They are intended for short-term use (less than three days) to relieve symptoms. The recommendation for Life Extension's zinc lozenges is one every two hours, no more than eight times a day. 

Cost: $9.99 for 30 lozenges

Zinc content per serving: 18.75 per one lozenge

Life Extension's best features:

  • Life Extension lozenges are NSF-registered. Products are made in a GMP-compliant facility. Life Extension also provides a certificate of analysis for consumers who want to confirm quality and purity. 
  • These lozenges are gluten-free, non-GMO and vegetarian-friendly. 

Things to consider:

  • Lozenges are not a long-term supplement option. They are recommended for less than three days in a row.
  • Life Extension's zinc lozenges include four grams of added sugar, a significant amount.  
NutraChamps

NutraChamps Zinc Drops are the best liquid zinc supplement for adults and children. You can add liquid zinc to water and other beverages.

With 15 mg per four full pulls from the dropper, this liquid zinc supplement has less zinc per serving than other options offered in pill form. However, many people don't need 30 mg of zinc per serving, so depending on your needs, this may be a good thing. In addition to zinc, you also get 45 mg of vitamin C per serving. 

An important note on dosage is that it can be difficult to regulate how much you are consuming with liquid zinc supplements. However, it does offer the chance to customize your dose in case you only need a small boost. 

Cost: $19.95 for a 30-serving bottle

Zinc content per serving: 15 mg of zinc per 4 droppers

NutraChamps Zinc Drop's best features:

  • This liquid zinc supplement is non-GMO and organic, making it a good option for vegans. 
  • Liquid zinc supplements are easy to use, as you can add them to food or beverages. 

Things to consider:

  • Getting the correct dosage can be difficult.
  • User reviews suggest that the liquid is not truly "flavorless" as advertised. Others add that the flavor can linger.  
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How we chose the best zinc supplements

The supplement industry isn't closely regulated by the FDA, which means that there are fewer regulations on the quality and purity of products. That's why third-party certifications are a crucial part of how we test zinc supplements. We didn't test these products in-house. Selections are based on quality, zinc content and price. We also consult user reviews for the product's taste, size and effectiveness.

Things to consider when shopping for zinc supplements

  • Ingredients: Many zinc supplements include gelatin, digestive enzymes and caprylic acid from milk, which aren't vegan-friendly. It's important to look closely at the label to ensure you know what's in your zinc supplement.
  • Form: You can take your zinc supplement in several forms -- capsules, liquids or lozenges. If you have trouble swallowing pills, a liquid option may be better suited for you. 
  • Dosage: Most zinc supplements on the market include 15 to 30 mg of zinc in each serving. The zinc recommendation for adults is 40 mg each day. When taking a supplement, ensure that you don't exceed this limit. 
  • Third-party testing: In the absence of FDA regulations, third-party testing and certifications support the purity and quality of a product. 

Read more: Which Vitamins Should You Be Taking? Here's What Science Says

Zinc supplements FAQ

What are the benefits of zinc supplements?

Zinc plays a critical role in several vital bodily functions. Zinc's benefits include: boosting immunity, maintaining healthy skin, healing wounds, reducing inflammation and reducing the duration of colds. If you're not getting enough zinc from your diet, a supplement can help ensure you get enough zinc to function.

Signs you may be zinc deficient:

  • Your hair is thinning 
  • Your wounds take longer to heal than normal
  • You have a loss of appetite 
  • You have unexplained weight loss
  • You can't smell or taste as well as you used to

Who should take zinc supplements?

Those at risk of a zinc deficiency should consider taking a supplement, including vegetarians, lactating people and those living with digestive conditions. It's recommended that adult men consume 11 mg of zinc per day, while women should intake 8 mg. The average person gets enough zinc from their diet. 

If you are looking for an alternative way to boost zinc levels without taking a supplement, you can opt for more zinc-rich foods. Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc. You can also find zinc in beans, nuts, whole grains, red meat and poultry. 

How much zinc should someone take?

How much zinc you should take depends on your age and life stage. According to the National Institutes of Health, children under three need 3 mg of zinc. Children four to eight years old require 5 mg. Once children enter their preteen/teen years, their need for zinc increases. 14- to 18-year-olds males require 11 mg while females need 8 mg. 

Adult women require 8 mg of zinc, which increases to 11 to 12 mg during pregnancy and lactation. Adult men require 11 mg.

What are the side effects of zinc supplements?

You can take too much zinc. It's best not to exceed the maximum recommendations of 40 mg zinc supplements each day. Signs you are taking too much zinc can translate to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Taking too much zinc can have long-term negative side effects like low copper levels, compromised immunity, and drops in HDL cholesterol. 

Also see

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.