Introducing Zinc Supplements
Zinc supplements aren’t the most talked-about in the industry, but it’s time to change that. This mineral can do wonders for your health and well-being. And since our body doesn’t need much, little goes a long way.
Most people take zinc supplements when feeling under the weather. However, it is not only a cold reliever. It’s one of the best immunity boosters to help clear your skin, reduce your blood sugar levels and protect you from cardiovascular diseases.
In this article, we’ll discuss its benefits and side effects and teach you how to identify whether you have a deficiency. We’ll also give you tips on choosing the best supplement to fit your goals. If that’s not enough, you’ll also get a list of the top 10 zinc supplements.
- Zinc is an essential mineral that our body needs to function
- You can find it in many forms; each offers excellent benefits
- Even though it offers countless health benefits, too much of the mineral can also cause serious side effects
What Is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential micronutrient that plays an important role in immune function. It is technically called a “trace” mineral because the body needs only a small amount to function properly.
Most people aren’t aware of its role and how it can affect our well-being. Still, this incredible mineral boosts the immune system, supports protein synthesis, and helps with wound healing, cell division, and DNA synthesis. Simply put, it is at the center of many bodily functions.
The best way to get the mineral is by consuming zinc-rich foods, such as red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, oysters, and dairy products. However, if you don’t consume these foods, it’s time to consider incorporating supplements into your daily routine.
Types of Zinc Supplements
You can find many types of supplements. However, each form is different and affects your health in distinct ways.
Here are some of the most popular types you can find in the supplement market:
- Zinc Gluconate: this form is a zinc salt of gluconic acid. It’s mainly used in the form of lozenges and nasal sprays for making cold symptoms less severe or shorter. It can also help ease a sore throat, cough, sneezing, a horse voice, and stuffy nose.
- Zinc Acetate: this form contains about 35% elemental zinc. It’s excellent for treating a mineral deficiency, reducing cold symptoms, and speeding up recovery. It is also great for preventing skin infections and decreasing the progression of age-related diseases. As a bonus, you’ll absorb acetate more easily than any other form.
- Zinc Sulfate: the form contains about 23% of elemental zinc. It’s the cheapest zinc and can help reduce acne’s severity. However, it can easily irritate the stomach since the body can’t absorb it as easily.
- Zinc Picolinate: it’s a dietary supplement containing zinc salt of picolinic acid. It is a powerful antioxidant and can prevent oxidative damage. It also protects cells against DNA damage and can be easily absorbed into the body.
- Zinc Orotate: this type is one of the most common, found in most supplements on the market. It treats deficiency, osteoporosis, low testosterone levels, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and lowered immunity.
Other less common forms on the supplement market are zinc citrate and monomethionine. Both are good, but they’re not as easily absorbed as the other forms we discussed.
What Are the Benefits of Zinc Supplements?
Let’s see what regular consumption of this mineral can do for your well-being.
Treat Zinc Deficiency
Supplements are crucial when treating a deficiency. Even though zinc deficiency is not very common, it can harm your health. For instance, it can cause hair loss, poor appetite, diarrhea, slow wound healing, and an overall decrease in immunity.
Fortunately, with regular supplementation, you can rapidly improve any deficiency-caused symptoms.
Improvement of Immune Function
Most over-the-counter medications and natural remedies contain zinc because it fights inflammation and boosts the immune system. Studies show that regular supplement consumption can reduce the common cold’s duration by 33%.
It is a powerful antioxidant that can protect you from chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It can even prevent symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections.
Helps Fight Acne
People with low zinc levels often experience acne. This condition might not be health-hazardous but can affect anyone’s confidence levels. Luckily, regular supplementation promotes skin health and treats acne.
Sulfate is the best option for decreasing mild to moderate acne symptoms. Still, you must beware of its potential side effects.
Supplements can also be helpful for psoriasis, warts, Hansen’s disease, aphthous ulcers, and vitiligo.
Promotes Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Most people aren’t aware that low zinc levels can often cause impaired blood sugar levels and even type 2 diabetes. However, studies show that this mineral is proven to keep blood sugar levels normal while improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Improves Heart Health
Did you know that 33% of deaths worldwide are caused by heart disease? Luckily, top zinc supplements can lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels, thus decreasing your chances of getting a heart condition.
Studies show that regular consumption of supplements can reduce systolic blood pressure levels and decrease LDL or bad cholesterol levels, which are the main causes of high blood pressure.
Slows Down Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. Although the condition can be devastating, supplements can slow the progression and protect you against blindness.
Studies show that taking at least 50mg of zinc sulfate per day can significantly slow the progression of macular degeneration and improve nutrient flow in the retina.
Essential For Certain Groups Of People
While most people get their daily dose of zinc through food, a certain group is prone to deficiency. These people can significantly benefit from regular consumption of supplements, which they need to incorporate into their daily routines.
Here are some of the people who can benefit the most from zinc supplements:
- Vegans and vegetarians: people who don’t consume foods from animal sources need 50% more zinc than the recommended daily allowance.
- People with digestive disorders: Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis can decrease the amount of zinc the body absorbs.
- People with alcohol use disorder: regular consumption of huge amounts of alcohol reduces the amount of zinc in the body and increases the amount lost through urination.
- Pregnant women: pregnancy often causes zinc deficiency, which is why doctors recommend these supplements to expectant mothers.
Consult your physician or a registered dietitian before consuming any supplement. Zinc can interact with certain medications and can cause adverse health effects.
How To Choose The Best Zinc Supplement?
Choosing the ideal zinc supplement for your needs is not an easy mission, considering the variety of brands on the supplement market. However, if you follow certain criteria, you’ll be able to choose the best product.
As we previously mentioned, many forms of zinc are available, each offering different benefits. If you’re looking for an effective and cheap option, get zinc gluconate.
Your body will easily absorb most forms aside from zinc sulfate. While sulfate is beneficial, it can cause stomach problems due to its low bioavailability.
Zinc supplements commonly come in pills, capsules, liquid, or lozenges. Choose a form that you find easiest to consume. Most supplement users who have trouble swallowing pills opt for the liquid form, which tends to absorb in the body in minutes.
If you see a product with a certificate from USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab, you can be assured that the supplement is top quality.
Still, remember that some high-quality brands and products don’t have a certificate. Check the manufacturer, the brand, and its reliability to decide whether you feel comfortable consuming their supplement.
Always read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to check whether the product suits your needs.
For instance, many supplements include gelatin, digestive enzymes, and caprylic acid from milk. These ingredients are not vegan-friendly nor good for those with sensitive stomachs.
Furthermore, some supplements, such as zinc lozenges, often contain added sweeteners like sucrose or corn syrup. It would be best to avoid these ingredients if you’re concerned about your sugar intake.
Zinc supplements can interact with certain medications, such as Amiloride, blood pressure medications, antibiotics like quinolones and tetracyclines, chemotherapy medications, and certain Thiazide diuretics.
If you take any medications, don’t take zinc supplements without consulting your doctor first. Your physician will advise you whether it’s appropriate to consume the supplement and will determine the right dose for you.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances for zinc are:
- 0-6 months: 2mg
- 7 months-3 years: 3mg
- 4-8 years: 5mg
- 9-13 years: 8mg
- 14-18years: 11mg for men; 9mg for women
- 19+ years: 11mg for men; 8mg for women
- Pregnant women: 12mg
- Breastfeeding women: 12-13mg
Don’t consume more than the recommended daily dose because too much zinc can cause negative side effects.
When choosing a supplement, consider that the percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. You’ll find the elemental contact on the supplement’s label, so you’ll know exactly how much mineral you are getting.
Additional Considerations for Purchase
Lastly, here are some additional things to consider before making your purchase:
- Consider your dietary goals: if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, look for a supplement suitable for your dietary needs. If you suffer from gluten or lactose intolerance, choose products that don’t contain these ingredients and won’t upset your gut.
- Think about usability: always go for a form that is easier for you to digest. If you take pills but have difficulty swallowing them, you won’t be persistent in your consumption.
- Research the product you want to purchase: always check for user ratings and comments. They will give you valuable information and teach you about potential side effects.
Potential Side Effects of Zinc
High doses won’t solve your deficiency faster; they will only cause serious side effects. This is why it’s important to consume the daily recommended dose and not more!
Some of the potential side effects of too much zinc include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Loss of appetite
People who consume 100-300mg daily can experience a copper deficiency, impaired immune function, blood lipid imbalances, decreased HDL “good” cholesterol, and anemia.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for zinc in people over 19 is 40mg. Everything above that can disrupt your well-being and cause side effects. If you experience any of the side effects mentioned above, contact your doctor immediately.
Zinc is an essential nutrient that’s much needed to support the immune system and improve your well-being. Fortunately, there is a variety of zinc-rich food on the market. However, if you have a dietary restriction and can’t get enough of it to keep your body running properly, don’t hesitate to use zinc supplements.
With many excellent brands on the market offering top-quality supplements, you’ll find the ideal supplement that will fit your needs and support your goals. But remember to always take supplements in moderation. Too much of it can only do more harm!