Zinc is a mineral we only need in very small amounts, yet it is has many known roles in the body. It acts as a cofactor for around 100 different enzymatic reactions, which break down and produce different substances... Read more
Zinc is a mineral we only need in very small amounts, yet it is has many known roles in the body. It acts as a cofactor for around 100 different enzymatic reactions, which break down and produce different substances within the body. It is needed for good immune function, growth and development, vision, and good fertility, amongst others. The best food sources of zinc are oysters, followed by seeds such as pumpkin and sesame, and meat – especially beef.
Primary functions of Zinc
How much zinc do we need?
The nutrient reference value for zinc in the UK is 10 mg for adults. Nutrient reference values refer to the amount needed to ensure that the needs of nearly all the population (97.5%) are being met.
The best common food sources of zinc are:
Deficiency signs and symptoms*
Severe zinc deficiency is quite rare, and marginal or mild deficiency is more prevalent in developing countries. However, certain populations of people even in the Western world are more likely to experience zinc deficiency, including children and adolescents (periods of rapid growth), anyone who has poor nutrient absorption, women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, older adults, and strict vegetarians .
Symptoms may include :
Forms and bioavailability / What to look for when buying a supplement
In supplements, like most other minerals, zinc is more absorbable in some forms than others.
In summary, our top recommendations are zinc methionine, zinc picolinate or food-form zinc, followed by zinc citrate and zinc gluconate.
Dosages: Lifestyle Labs’ recommendations
Adults: Supplements for adults typically provide between 15 mg and 50 mg of zinc per daily dose. Up to 30mg of zinc is considered safe to take long-term, but copper should generally be supplemented as well (in a ratio of 15:1 zinc to copper – e.g. 30mg of zinc to 2mg of copper). This is because zinc can reduce the absorption of copper, and may result in a copper deficiency with long-term use. A high dosage of 50mg of zinc may typically be recommended for someone who is known to be deficient in zinc or to have very low levels of zinc in their diet. This high dosage would normally be recommended for a fixed period of time, and then reduced to a lower dose. Taking more than 50mg on a daily basis is not advisable unless recommended by a practitioner.
If you’re taking an individual zinc supplement and a multivitamin, check the total amount you are getting each day to make sure you’re not taking too much.
Children: There are small number of zinc supplements on the market suitable for children under 12, which tend to provide up to about 8mg per daily dose. More than this may be recommended by a healthcare practitioner.
If you are taking any medications or have any medical condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before taking an individual zinc supplement.
Zinc is generally a very safe supplement to take for most people. However, as mentioned above under ‘Dosages’, if you are taking an individual zinc supplement on a long-term basis, check you are not taking too much in conjunction with any other supplements, and that what you are taking is balanced with copper.
Zinc lozenges have proven and fast-acting effects, and zinc piccolinate is best absorbed if you need capsules.