Zinc is an important mineral nutrient that is connected with a well-functioning immune system and higher levels of testosterone and other muscle-building hormones.
Depending on your diet, you may not be getting enough zinc naturally. Zinc supplements are a great way to ensure you have recommended levels of zinc in your body for stronger immune systems and improved muscle building. They’re particularly useful for older adults (especially older men), who are more likely to have zinc deficiency.
Our research team has conducted a thorough investigation into the best zinc supplements on the market. We’ve also come up with in-depth insights into how zinc actually works to improve your health.
Last updated: December 21, 2022
Zinc supplements considered: 26
Hours of research: 44
Experts reviewed: 12
Scientific papers referenced: 25
1. Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate
Thorne Research supplies zinc in a chelated form, meaning the zinc is already surrounded by amino acids, making it easier for your body to absorb.
This supplement provides 15 milligrams of zinc, which is 100% of your recommended daily intake.
This is a boon for people looking for more realistic zinc dosages; other competitors sometimes offer frustratingly high doses of zinc.
Its versatility and ease of absorption make Thorne Research our top overall choice.
2. Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges
Zinc lozenges are perfectly suited for speeding recovery when you’ve contracted a cold or other upper respiratory infection.
Why? A zinc lozenge enables direct delivery of dissolved zinc to your mouth and throat, where upper respiratory infections thrive.
Though Nature’s Way also makes a standard zinc supplement in tablet form, its lozenge is our favorite when it comes to using zinc to treat a cold.
The formulation also includes vitamin C and Echinacea, which are thought to help speed recovery from upper respiratory infections, underscoring the utility of this supplement for dealing with the common cold.
3. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
Garden of Life makes their name by offering vitamin and mineral supplements that derive their ingredients from real food sources.
Their Vitamin Code Raw Zinc supplement is no different: it delivers 15 mg of zinc and 30 mg of vitamin C per tablet (100% and 50% of your recommended daily intake, respectively), but alongside, it includes a raw blend of organic fruits and vegetables, like beets, apples, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
These sources ensure that your zinc is coming from natural sources. Additionally, you get some additional benefits from the phytonutrients and antioxidants in the fruit and vegetable concentrates included in Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc.
For all-natural enthusiasts, it’s an excellent choice.
4. Metagenics Zinlori 75
Metagenics Zinlori 75 is an unusual chelated form known as zinc carnosine. Chelated forms of metallic minerals are usually easier to digest and absorb into your body more effectively.
This supplement delivers a precise, accurate dosage of 17 mg of zinc, which is just over 100% of your recommended intake.
As you’d expect from a carefully-designed supplement, there is little in the way of extra ingredients.
Aside from the zinc carnosine, the only other ingredients are cellulose, stearic acid, and silica. Its simplicity and purity make it great for people who want highly bioavailable zinc and nothing else.
5. Best Naturals Zinc Citrate
Best Naturals Zinc Citrate is simple and easy. Just 30 mg of an easy-to-absorb form of zinc make this a great pick if you don’t need anything fancy.
Often, less scrupulous supplement companies will use a cheaper formulation like zinc oxide, which can upset the stomach’s acidity balance and is not as easily absorbed, but zinc citrate doesn’t have these disadvantages.
6. HYPR Liquid Zinc Drops
The zinc supplement offered by HYPR takes a different tack: it’s offered in a liquid form for rapid delivery and absorption.
The amber glass bottle comes with an eyedropper cap, which serves as the measuring device. Each serving provides 15 mg of zinc, which is 100% of your recommended daily intake.
This is your best option if you don’t like taking pills, or if you want to mix your zinc supplement in with a protein shake or smoothie.
7. Bulk Supplements Zinc Gluconate
Bulk Supplements has a tried and true philosophy: supply highly pure supplements at a low cost in a loose powder form, delegating measuring duties to the customer.
The major drawback for a supplement like zinc, whose recommended intake is so small (15 mg), is that you absolutely, positively, 100% must use a calibrated, high-quality micro scale to measure out your dosage.
8. Solgar Chelated Zinc
Solgar Chelated Zinc is supplied in a more bioavailable form than other brands, which might make it a good pick if other zinc supplements have been hard on your stomach. Chelation aside, it’s a pretty standard zinc supplement, delivering 22 mg per serving.
9. Good State Ionic Zinc
Good state ionic zinc is supplied in liquid form, meaning that it’s super easy to to mix into a protein shake or a smoothie.
It’s not flavored with anything either, so you can expect a mildly astringent or acidic taste if you drink it straight-up.
Each serving provides 18 mg in the form of “ionic zinc,” which is really just a fancy term for zinc lacto-gluconate dissolved in highly pure water. This form of zinc is easy on your stomach, making this supplement a solid choice if you know you want your zinc in liquid form.
10. Pure Encapsulations Zinc
If you are looking for a pure zinc supplement in an easily digested salt form, look no further than Pure Encapsulations. Each plant cellulose tablet contains 30 mg of zinc in the form of zinc gluconate.
It may not be the flashiest on the market but it’s a reliable pick. Though chelated forms are likely more bioavailable (i.e. easy for your body to absorb), the gluconate form does just fine and won’t irritate your stomach.
Best zinc overall: Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate
Thorne Research takes great care to provide an appropriate dosage of zinc, in a highly bioavailable format. For all-purpose use, it’s easily the top zinc supplement on the market.
Best zinc for colds: Nature’s Way Organic Zinc Lozenges
Most of the research on using zinc to treat or prevent colds uses lozenges, because they deliver zinc to your bloodstream faster and more efficiently than taking a capsule. Among the lozenges on the market, Nature’s Way makes the best for ridding yourself of a cold, thanks to including antioxidants like vitamin C alongside zinc.
Best zinc for men: Metagenics Zinlori 75
Metagenics provides zinc in a pre-chelated format, meaning it’s easy to absorb. Given that low levels of zinc have been linked to low testosterone, and given that men need more zinc than women, the high dosage of Metagenics Zinlori 75 makes it a good pick for men.
Best zinc for adults over 50: Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate
With a reasonable dosage and a super clean and simple supplement design, Thorne Research is an excellent pick for older adults, providing the right amount of zinc with no unnecessary ingredients.
Best zinc for boosting immunity: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc
Garden of Life delivers zinc alongside many of the phytonutrients you’d get from natural sources of zinc. The antioxidant properties of these phytonutrients provide a nice compliment to the immunity-boosting effects of zinc.
Best zinc for sexual health: Metagenics Zinlori 75
If low testosterone or other effects of zinc deficiency are limiting your sexual performance, a higher dose of zinc in a bioavailable form might be in order. Since that’s exactly what Metagenics delivers, it’s our top pick for sexual health.
Who should buy zinc?
Zinc is an incredibly versatile supplement, but it’s most popular for the following applications.
Men who want to increase their testosterone. Testosterone levels drop with age, and zinc is a key factor in maintaining high T levels.
Zinc plays a key role in the function of many essential enzymes in your body, and some of these are linked to maintaining high levels of testosterone in men.
Further, men who are deficient in zinc tend to have lower levels of testosterone, and supplemental zinc may help reverse this problem.
Men who want better sexual wellness. For better sexual performance and stronger sexual stamina, zinc is a popular supplement because of its link to testosterone levels. It’s a quick and easy way for men, especially those over 40, to keep their body supplied with the necessary precursors for the hormones that support optimal sexual function.
People who want to speed their recovery from the common cold. Zinc may lessen the severity of a cold, as long as you take it soon enough after starting to develop symptoms. Zinc lozenges are particularly popular for this application, since they deliver zinc directly to the throat.
Some scientific research suggests that taking a zinc lozenge during the early stages of an upper respiratory infection (i.e. a cold) can limit the duration of symptoms, albeit mildly (1).
The connection between zinc and illness is less consistent, but what is fairly consistent is the connection between taking supplemental zinc (sometimes in the form of a cough drop, so the zinc can be absorbed directly underneath your tongue) and a reduction in the symptoms and severity of the infection.
Zinc is less effective at preventing the onset of a cold or another upper respiratory infection, but it does seem to shorten the duration of an illness once you’ve already gotten sick.
How we ranked
We had several criteria for a supplement to be considered for our rankings.
High bioavailability. First, it had to provide zinc in a bioavailable format. That means a high proportion of the zinc you consume from the supplement actually gets absorbed into your bloodstream and delivered to your tissues. That meant choosing forms of zinc that readily dissolved in water.
Easy on the stomach. We rejected zinc supplements that required your stomach acid to dissolve the zinc. These can raise the pH of your digestive tract and cause GI issues.
This meant that EZ Melts Zinc was out, despite its popularity—its zinc oxide has the tendency to dilute the acidity of your stomach, and isn’t as easily absorbed as other supplements that use zinc gluconate or picolinate.
Targeted, precise dosage. Like other trace minerals, getting too much zinc can be toxic. Zinc competes with copper for absorption in your intestines, so if you overload your body with too much zinc on a regular basis, you can develop a copper deficiency.
Moderately high doses of supplemental zinc can also cause disruptions in your body’s ability to manage your HDL and LDL cholesterol, so we made sure to exclude anything with a dosage higher than 50 mg straight away.
From here, we gave preference to low to moderate doses of zinc, because it often does not take much to fix a deficiency.
In addition to the claimed dosage of zinc on the label, we also referred to independent third-party testing of the actual dosage delivered. We cut supplements that had grossly inaccurate claims of their dosage on the label.
Variety of methods of delivery. We also made sure to include a variety of delivery options.
While capsules are by far the most common and most convenient way to take a zinc supplement, some people want to reduce the number of pills they take per day, or want to incorporate zinc into a smoothie or shake.
To this end, we picked a couple of the best powder-based and liquid zinc solutions, as long as they passed all of our other requirements.
Key features for efficacy. Finally, we looked for features that made a particular zinc supplement more effective than others with a similar dosage.
For example, the unique zinc picolinate form of Thorne Research’s zinc supplement may be more efficacious than the cheaper and more popular zinc gluconate used in other products on the market. The same is true for the amino acid chelate form of zinc used by Nature’s Way.
Q: What are the sexual benefits of zinc?
A: Since zinc is related to testosterone levels, the connection between sexual health and zinc should be pretty clear. Some of the hallmark symptoms of low testosterone in men are a lack of libido (meaning no sexual appetite or desire) and erectile dysfunction.
Interestingly, historical data on nutritional deficiencies show that boys with insufficient zinc intake have delayed sexual maturity, which provides even stronger evidence that zinc is connected to male sexual health.
Notably, low levels of zinc are not the only thing that can cause low testosterone and sexual dysfunction in men, so if a low dosage zinc supplement does not improve your sexual health, you’ll need to look elsewhere for solutions.
Q: What’s the best zinc supplement at Walmart?
A: Currently, the top-ranked zinc supplement on our list that you can find at Walmart is Best Naturals Zinc.
It’s a solid pick, but it only ended up at number five in our top ten rankings, so there are definitely better options out there if you are willing to shop somewhere else.
Q: What is zinc good for?
A: The scientific research has found that zinc is most useful for two distinct conditions. First, a zinc supplement is an effective way to treat low testosterone in older men that is linked to a zinc deficiency.
The exact biochemistry behind why low blood levels of zinc generate lower levels of testosterone is not completely clear, but clinical research supports the use of zinc supplements for boosting testosterone in older men. Zinc also appears to be useful for decreasing the duration of mild illnesses like the common cold.
If you take a zinc supplement, ideally in the form of a lozenge, some evidence suggests that the zinc can prevent reduce the duration of symptoms like muscle aches, a sore throat, and a cough.
Q: What foods have zinc?
A: Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, beef, chicken, pork, lentils, tofu, and hemp seeds. In all cases, these foods are also great sources of protein.
The fact that the most zinc-rich foods are mostly animal products also suggests that vegetarians and vegans may have difficulty getting enough zinc in their diet.
They may be particularly prone to the kind of zinc deficiencies that can be associated with low testosterone.
Q: What is the best form of zinc to take as a supplement?
A: The best form of zinc is a salt that is water soluble, such as zinc gluconate. There is also a strong argument to be made for amino acid chelates, like the zinc supplement made by Nature’s Way, but as long as a zinc supplement contains a form of zinc that is easily dissolved in water, it will be readily absorbed by your body.
These soluble forms of zinc are preferable to zinc oxide, a form of zinc that is not soluble in water and thus relies on your stomach acid to dissolve the zinc and make it bioavailable.
Zinc appears to be a modestly effective immune system booster, but where it really shines is helping keep your testosterone levels high.
If you want to help build muscle, have more energy, and increase your libido, taking a zinc supplement might be just what you need.
Older men in particular can benefit from the testosterone-boosting effects of zinc. It’s one of the easiest, and often most effective ways to get a boost in your testosterone levels if a deficiency in this trace mineral is the root cause.
At low to moderate doses, zinc can be quite useful for limiting the duration of colds and other upper respiratory infections, and for boosting androgen levels, particularly in older men.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 zinc recommendation, click here.