Welcome to our brand new guide on another supplement! This article will provide you with the latest information on zinc, a trace element essential to our health. By the end of this article, we’re confident that you will know if you need to add zinc supplements to your diet, in what quantity and how to avoid its potential side effects.

Zinc contributes to the formation of new white blood cells, therefore strengthening our defences. It also gives strength and vitality to you hair, skin and nails. According to certain sources, up to one in three people has excessively low zinc levels, which in turn negatively affects their immune system, fertility and overall well-being.

Key Facts

  • Zinc is an essential trace element, the second most important after iron when it comes to maintaining your organism in optimal health conditions.
  • Zinc deficiency has been associated with a weak immune system that predisposes individuals to certain diseases. These can range from simple discomforts like the common cold to much more serious pathologies like cancer.
  • Large quantities of zinc are found in foods of animal origin. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are poor in zinc, so vegetarians and vegans should particularly mind their diet to avoid deficiencies.

Ranking: The best zinc supplements in the market

In this section, we’ve gathered the very best zinc supplements available on the Australian market so you can find the product that is best for you. You’ll also be able to choose from different dosage forms or opt for vegan supplements, completely free of animal components.

No. 1: Blackmores Bio Zinc (168 tablets)

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New South Wales company Blackmores is a leader on the Australian market in the sector of health supplements, and their experience is something you can rely on. This is why their Bio Zinc product has become Amazon’s Choice in the category, assisting with the proper functioning of your immune system, wound healing and contributing to a healthy skin.

The manufacturer recommends a daily dose of no more than one tablet a day while eating for adults, while children should not supplement unless prescribed professionally by their practitioner. This product also contains magnesium, manganese, vitamin A and vitamin B6. Do not take vitamin A if you are pregnant or trying to be. Also available in packs of 168 tablets. Price per tablet: $0.18.

No. 2: Swisse Ultiboost Zinc+ (60 tablets)

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Swisse is another quality brand straight out of Australia operating in the vitamin and supplement sector. This product offers you two months of zinc supplements, so it is ideal if you’re giving you first go at it. The recommendation of use for adults is taking one tablet once day during your meal. This product contains additional vitamin B6, vitamin A, magnesium and manganese. Price per tablet: $0.16.

No. 3: Australian NaturalCare Zinc Plus (90 tablets)

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You guessed it: this is yet another local company providing quality supplements, demonstrating the skills of Australian brands in the sector. Apart from 15 mg of zinc, this product contains magnesium, manganese, copper, betacarotene and vitamin B6. It offers great value for money. The manufacturer states that this product contains corn, soy and sugars. Price per tablet: $0.10.

No. 4: Nature’s Own High Strength Zinc (60 tablets)

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This product by NSW-based Nature’s Own contains 30 milligrams of zinc gluconate with no added elements – it is the only such product on our list and our recommendation if you are pregnant or looking for pregnancy. The manufacturer states that nothing is added to the tablets and that it is 100% vegan-friendly. This product is slightly more expensive than others on this list. Price per tablet: $0.21.

No. 5: Cenovis Zinc Plus (150 tablets)

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Cenovis was founded in the 1930s by an Australian pharmacist, and it has grown to become one of the leading supplement brands in the country. This zinc supplement also contains manganese and vitamin B6; the absence of vitamin A makes it useful for pregnant women. With 150 tablets in each, it offers great value for money. Price per tablet: $0.07.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about zinc

Your body requires zinc for more than a hundred metabolic reactions. We tend to divide these processes into three main groups:

  • Regulation of enzymatic (chemical) reactions at the cellular level
  • Maintenance of tissues in good condition (wound healing)
  • Protection (shielding DNA from oxidative damage and promoting the formation of new white blood cells)
zinc1

Zinc strengthens your bones and teeth. (Source: Puhhhar: 47895081/ 123rf.com)

What is zinc exactly?

Zinc is considered to be an essential trace element for the well-being of our organism. Small concentrations of this mineral are found in all your cells: an adult usually has 2 to 4 g of zinc in the body.

In 1961, a population of malnourished children with growth retardation was treated with zinc supplements. The experiment was a success, with a clear improvement of the symptoms in children being observed. From that moment onward, we have taken into account the importance of zinc for the correct development and maintenance of tissues.

While a healthy person will only require a tiny amount of zinc to meet their daily requirements, it is increasingly common to find people with zinc deficiency. Diets poor in animal products and rich in seeds and fibre can cause zinc deficiency in individuals during growth, elderly people, and pregnant or lactating women.

How is zinc useful?

Zinc takes part in processes of cell replication, DNA protection and hormonal regulation throughout the body. The table below introduces you to the functions of zinc known to date:

System Function
Immune Creation of new white blood cells, strengthening of immunity
Brain Neural connection enhancer, stress resistance
Skin, hair and nails Protection of the epithelial barrier. Scarring. Antioxidant. Hair and nail growth
Cellular metabolism Anti-inflammatory. Antioxidant. Protection of DNA
Bones Bone formation
Reproductive Increased fertility, libido and sexual function
Sensory (taste, sight, smell) Supports normal vision, improves night vision. Sensitises taste buds and smell. Increases appetite.
Cardiorespiratory Improvement of respiratory and cardiac function. Regulates blood pressure. Creation of blood cells

What is the recommended dosage for zinc?

This will vary depending on the sex, age, and needs of the individual:

Population group Recommended daily dose
Infants 0-6 months 2 mg
Babies 7-12 months 3 mg
Children 1-3 years 3 mg
Children 4-8 years 5 mg
Children 9-13 years 8 mg
 Boys 14-18 years  11 mg
Girls 14-18 years  9 mg 
 Adult males  11 mg 
 Adult females  8 mg
Pregnant or lactating women  11 mg
Men over 61 10 mg
Women over 61 10 mg

It is believed that many individuals over the age of 61 do not have a high enough zinc intake, which interferes with proper healing of wounds, weakens the immune system and increases the risk of respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections.

What foods are rich in zinc?

As mentioned earlier, zinc is generally found in animal protein. It is more abundant in meat than in fish; within meats, beef and pork have higher concentrations of zinc than poultry. Shellfish, and more specifically oysters and clams, also contain high amounts of this mineral.

Other known sources includes pumpkin seeds, chocolate, yeast, nuts and even wine and beer. On the other hand, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables do not contain zinc. They even contain phytates or phytic acid, compounds that prevent the absorption of this trace element. This is the reason why individuals on vegetarian or vegan diets need to pay particular attention to their zinc levels in order to avoid deficiencies.

What are the symptoms of a zinc deficiency?

Every day, our body evacuates small amounts of zinc through urine, sweat, stool, and other fluids. The loss of this trace element further increases during menstruation and lactation. Elderly people, vegans, vegetarians, alcoholics and people with liver or kidney diseases lose higher than normal amounts of zinc every day.

Doctor Samar YordeMedical Specialist in Public Health and Obesity

“Zinc is very important in cell division and formation of proteins. Its recommended daily intake may not be met with a vegetarian diet.”

As you now know, zinc regulates a large number of cellular processes such as cell replication and the protection of genetic material. Zinc deficiency directly affects the structure and stability of your tissues, leading to a deterioration of the immune system. The severity of the deficit determines the gravity of its manifestations:

Minor manifestations:

  • Increased frequency of colds and seasonal flu
  • Decrease in testosterone levels (lowered sexual desire and potency)
  • Slowing of metabolism or weight loss
  • Deterioration of night vision
  • Hearing impairments
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Did you know that zinc may be able to prevent DNA damage by protecting cellular components from oxidation?

  • Decreased sense of taste; lack of appetite
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Difficulty concentrating, tiredness and apathy
  • Skin conditions: acne, wrinkles, dry skin
  • Mouth sores
  • Hair loss
  • White marks on nails (leukonychia)
zinc2

Zinc is more abundant in animal products.(Source: Baibakova: 55559993/ 123rf.com)

Serious manifestations:

  • Growth retardation in children and adolescents
  • Impotence in men and loss of libido in men and women
  • Severe alterations of the senses: taste, smell and sight
  • Severe metabolic disorders (insulin and thyroid hormones)
  • Accelerated ageing
  • Possible increase in cancer incidence

Who should supplement with zinc?

Zinc supplements are generally recommended for:

  • People who lose a lot of fluid in the form of sweat (athletes, outdoor workers)
  • People who often get colds
  • People on strict vegan or vegetarian diets
  • Elderly people, especially those suffering from vision conditions or loss of appetite
  • People with aphthae, mouth ulcers or halitosis

Zinc supplements are also suitable for:

  • People with acne or acne scars
  • People with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia)
  • People who have suffered extensive burns
  • People suffering from muscle cramps
  • People with bone and joint pain
  • Hypertensive people taking diuretics (under medical supervision)

How will I benefit from zinc supplements?

An appropriate zinc intake will positively impact your overall health by protecting your DNA from oxidative processes, promoting cell replication, strengthening your defences and stimulating your hormone production. Here are some of the benefits that zinc supplementation has to offer:

  • Reduced frequency of flu, colds and gastrointestinal diseases
  • Healthier hair and nails, with higher growth rate and reduced loss/breakage
  • Improved healing of wounds and burns
  • Antioxidant effect on the skin, preventing the appearance of wrinkles and expression lines
  • Improvement of acne, ulcers and cold sores
  • Increased levels of testosterone in men and women (increased sexual desire and potency)
  • Prevention of sports injuries and faster healing
zinc3

Zinc improves musculoskeletal and joint pains. (Source: Ratmaner : 77215665/ 123rf.com)

What types of zinc supplements are available out there?

Manufacturers have to blend zinc with other elements in order to be able to package it. Zinc is often joined to organic elements via electrical charges, a process known as chelation. Upon ingestion of the supplement, your organism breaks the compound down in order to obtain zinc in straight form.

Remember that the absorption of zinc may be altered by these compounds, which may influence your experience with the supplement. This is why it is key for you to know about the main preparations available; you’ll be able to choose the product that’s just right for you:

  • Zinc orotate: This particular compound associates two molecules of orotic acid. Under normal condition, the bacteria present in the intestinal tract can synthesise this acid, which is associated with a greater absorption and assimilation of zinc.
  • Zinc picolinate: This organic acid can pass through the cell membrane, and is therefore particularly effective in improving the absorption and transport of zinc.
  • Zinc bisglycinate: This supplement consist of zinc and two small glycine amino acids. Its absorption is similar to that of zinc picolinate.
  • Zinc gluconate: This is the most common form of zinc supplementation, in which zinc is associated with an acid of glucose origin that allows absorption. Some of its critics have stated that this is the compound that presents the lowest absorption capacity.
  • Zinc citrate: Citrate is a salt derived from citric acid, with an absorption capacity similar to that of zinc gluconate.

What is the price of a zinc supplement?

In reason of the small quantity of zinc needed for supplementation, these products tend to have very affordable prices. The number of tablets present in a pack naturally influences the cost, and certain manufacturers offer 365-capsule packs. This is very convenient, as a single purchase provides you with a year’s worth of zinc supplements.

The following table gives you a rough idea of the average price of the main compounds:

Compound Average price
Zinc orotate $20 – 25
Zinc picolinate $20 – 25
Zinc bisglycinate $15 – 20
Zinc gluconate $5 – 10
Zinc citrate $5 – 10

Can I take too much zinc?

Yes. There is a well-known saying for zinc amongst experts: “No deficiencies, no excesses”. As for any supplement, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never take more zinc than the recommended dose.

An excessive zinc intake will produce immediate effects: vomiting, headache, general malaise and muscle cramps.

Consuming too much zinc over months – or even weeks – will lead to chronic disturbances of your metabolism. These may include anaemia, malfunctioning of the immune function and cholesterol alterations. Consult your doctor before supplementing with zinc on an ongoing basis.

Certain consumers have developed different strategies to avoid the accumulation of too much zinc. While some only take the supplement during the coldest months of the year (to protect themselves from seasonal flu), other users opt to take half a dose rather than a full tablet.

Can I use zinc supplements if I am pregnant?

The relationship between zinc and female fertility has been quite controversial. Women seeking pregnancy, pregnant women and breastfeeding women need to maintain healthy levels of zinc, but excessive zinc intake by the mother can adversely affect the foetus and the nursing baby.

In principle, zinc supplementation for healthy pregnant women is not recommended. If you are pregnant or looking to become pregnant and suspect that you may be zinc deficient, talk about it with your doctor or midwife. Tests will help them determine whether or not you need and should supplement in your condition.

foco

Did you know that chances of conceiving are higher in couples where the man has sufficient zinc levels?

Shopping Criteria

We’ve compiled the most important purchasing factors for you to consider when choosing your very own zinc supplement. We recommend you to have a look at the following characteristics before making your decision:

  • Allergens and interactions
  • Desired effect
  • Absorption capacity
  • Dosage form
  • Value for money

Allergens and interactions

Any zinc supplement approved by Australian authorities was manufactured according to strict health standards. Most products are vegan-friendly and do not contain gluten, sugar or any transgenic elements. You should always have a look at the labelling and check that the supplement meets your requirements; don’t hesitate to ask your supplier if necessary.

On the other hand, supplementing with zin can also produce interactions with the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: Zinc can interact with the most common antibiotics and deactivate them. You’ll need to make sure you take your treatment at least two hours before or six hours after taking zinc.
  • Penicillamine: Penicillamine is a medicine used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Zinc prevents optimal absorption of the drug, so always check with your doctor before starting supplementation. As a rule of thumb, we recommend you to take your medication two hours before or after taking your supplement.

Desired effect

The effects of zinc generally impact your whole body, but zinc gluconate has demonstrated higher efficiency to prevent infections. Keep this in mind when you’re making your purchasing decision.

Dosage form

The one “safe” route of administration for zinc supplementation globally accepted by international agencies is the oral route. Intranasal supplementation was trialed during a certain period, but the results were dubious with some users suffering side effects such as loss of smell.

Oral zinc supplements generally come in the form of:

  • Tablets: High pressure is used to give to the zinc in powder a particular shape, in general round. Keeping a tablet in your mouth for a long time will lead to its disintegration, and you would notice the (usually bitter) taste of the supplement. Some tablets present little notches that make it easier for you to divide them.
  • Pills: The manufacturing process for this dosage form is very similar to the tablet. Pills also present a coating to prevent them from melting in your mouth, give them a better taste and make them easier to swallow.
  • Capsules: Unlike tablets and pills, capsules contain free supplement powder inside. Usually made of gelatine or a vegan alternative, the capsule facilitates ingestion and quickens absorption. The capsules can be hard or soft ( the latter being easier to swallow).

Value for money

You’ll generally obtain good bang for your buck with zinc supplements. Remember that packages with more supplements offer better value for money. Be careful: some manufacturers offer product that may appear cheaper to start with but that actually contain less zinc.

There’s a simple way to check whether you’re making a smart purchase or not. Simply divide the product’s price by the number of tablets to be able to compare the price per tablet if different supplement brands. Here is an example:

Product Total price Price per tablet
No. 1: 360 tablets $15  15/360 = $0.04
No. 2: 60 tablets $10 9/60 = $0.16

As you can see from our example, products with a greater number of tablets tend to offer a better overall value for money with a much lower price for each capsule.

Summary

Zinc is essential for our well-being. This mineral contributes to our general health, beautiful skin, strong nails and increased energy, desire and fertility. However, you’ll have to be particularly careful when supplementing with this trace element. Remember what we said: don’t exceed the recommended daily dose to avoid any side effects.

We hope the information we provided in this article will help you make the right choice for your needs. Making an informed decision will allow you to enjoy all the advantages of this trace element without impacting your budget.

If you liked our guide on zinc, feel free to leave a comment in the section below and share it on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Yemelyanov: 48592451/ 123rf.com)

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