By Rachael Link, RD, MS
Zinc is an essential nutrient that is involved in a number of different aspects of health. In fact, zinc is second only to iron in its concentration in the body and is required for everything from healthy skin and skin integrity to supporting normal DNA synthesis, cell division, immune function and more.
A deficiency in this key nutrient can impact health and normal functions in the body, and many people may be at a higher risk of deficiency, including those with certain dietary restrictions or other situations. Fortunately, taking a zinc supplement is an easy way to fill in any gaps in your diet and to help ensure that you’re getting enough of this key micronutrient.
Ready to learn more? This article will take a closer look at a few of the best zinc supplement benefits, along with more information on how much you should take, when to take (least one hour before a meal, or two hours after) and how to make sure that you’re meeting your daily needs.
Do People Get Enough Zinc In Their Diets?
Zinc is found naturally in a variety of different food sources. Some of the top foods high in zinc include red meat, poultry, dairy products, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fortified foods like bread and cereal.
Although most people are able to get enough zinc in their diet from food sources alone, those with restrictive diets or certain circumstances may be at risk of deficiency. In particular, vegans and vegetarians and others may often come up short on zinc. Additionally, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding typically have higher zinc requirements, which may make it more difficult to meet their needs from food sources alone.
Zinc deficiencies can often be diagnosed through a blood test or urine or hair analysis. Healthcare professionals may also consider other factors like diet, lifestyle and other health indicators when recommending a zinc supplement.
There are plenty of reasons to consider including a zinc supplement in your daily routine. Here are a few of the top potential benefits.
1. Supports a Healthy Digestive System
Zinc is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. In fact, zinc is required for the activity of over 300 enzymes in the body, many of which are involved in normal digestion, metabolism and nutrient absorption.
What’s more, coming up short on zinc can directly impact those same areas of digestion, metabolism and nutrient absorption.
2. Supports a Healthy Immune System
Zinc plays a central role in immune system health and is essential for the function and development of immune cells in the body. For this reason, many people recommend using a zinc supplement to support healthy immune system function.
Oftentimes, the best zinc supplement for supporting your healthy immune system may contain other added ingredients that are also beneficial for healthy immune system support, such as probiotics, elderberry or vitamin C.
3. To Address a Deficiency
Taking a zinc supplement is an easy way to help increase your body’s levels of zinc and to address a deficiency, if your healthcare professional has determined you have one.
Chelated forms of zinc, which are attached to amino acids or organic acid, are often the most easily absorbed by the body. Zinc picolinate, zinc acetate and zinc citrate are a few examples of chelated zinc, which is often considered the best zinc supplement for absorption.
So how much zinc per day do you actually need? The recommended zinc supplement dosage can vary based on several different factors, including your age and your gender.
Below are the current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for zinc:
- 0-6 months: 2 mg
- 7-12 months: 3 mg
- 1-3 years: 3 mg
- 4-8 years: 5 mg
- 9-13 years: 8 mg
- Females 14-18 years: 9 mg
- Males 14+ years: 11 mg
- Females 19+ years: 8 mg
Keep in mind that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also require a higher amount of zinc per day, with daily needs ranging from 11-13 mg, depending on their age, and determined by their healthcare professional.
Ideally, zinc supplements should be taken at least one hour before or two hours after meals to maximize absorption. If you prefer, however, you can also consider taking zinc supplements with your meals. (You should always read and follow any label directions.)
The tolerable upper limit for zinc is currently set at 40 mg per day. However, some individuals may require zinc supplements that contain higher doses, especially if they have a deficiency.
Most zinc supplements contain between 20-50 mg of zinc per serving, depending on the specific brand and the type of zinc that it contains. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking a high-dose zinc supplement.
Ancient Nutrition's Zinc Supplement with Probiotics
Ancient Nutrients - Zinc + Probiotics is a vegan-friendly supplement that contains 20 mg of enzyme-activated zinc and 2 billion CFUs* (*at time of manufacture) of probiotics to support healthy digestion, provide overall immune support and provide support for a healthy immune defense.
It stands out from other products on the market because it contains Bacillus subtilis, a specific strain of probiotic that can withstand harsh conditions such as heat, bile and stomach acid and can survive without refrigeration. This type of probiotic can help promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract and support healthy gut function, a healthy immune system, normal digestion and normal microflora in the gut. Plus, it’s formulated with enzyme-activated zinc, which is a form of zinc that is highly potent and readily available for your body to use.
For best results, take one capsule daily with water or your choice of beverage. Be sure to pair with a nutritious, well-rounded diet and healthy lifestyle to maximize the potential health benefits.
Whether you’re searching for the best zinc supplement for healthy hormonal support or the best zinc supplement for skin health, immune system health or digestive health support, be sure to always purchase high-quality products from a reputable retailer. Additionally, it’s important to use zinc vitamins and supplements only as directed, as taking too much zinc can come with some negative effects.
The tolerable upper limit for zinc is set at 40 mg per day, although those with a deficiency may require a higher dose, per their healthcare professional’s guidance. Be sure to talk to a trusted healthcare professional if you suspect you may have a deficiency and only use high-dose zinc supplements as directed by your doctor. You should also consult with your doctor if you’re taking other medications.
- Zinc is an important nutrient that is involved in several key aspects of health, including normal immune system function, cell division, DNA and more.
- Although zinc is found naturally in many different foods, some people may be at a higher risk of deficiency, including people following restrictive diets and others.
- Taking a zinc supplement can help with zinc deficiency, support a healthy immune system defense and support a healthy digestive system. Zinc requirements vary depending on your age and gender, but are generally between 8-11 mg for most healthy adults.
- Ancient Nutrients - Zinc + Probiotics contains 20 billion CFUs* of probiotics and 20 mg of enzyme-activated zinc to help support a healthy immune system and support healthy gut function.
- When selecting the best zinc supplement for you, be sure to always purchase from a reputable retailer and use only as directed to maximize the potential health benefits.
Rachael Link, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian based in New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and later received her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Rachael is passionate about plant-based nutrition and enjoys providing easy-to-understand information to readers looking to support their health.