Zinc is an essential trace element that plays a role in various biological processes, functions as an antioxidant, and helps the immune system. You’ll discover multiple forms of zinc when looking for a zinc supplement. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of zinc, especially zinc citrate, and how it compares to other forms of zinc.

What You Should Know About Zinc – An Essential Mineral

Zinc is an essential mineral that your body utilizes in various ways. Skin health, DNA synthesis, and protein formation are all dependent on this mineral. Furthermore, zinc is required for body growth and development due to its cell division and growth function. Zinc is needed to develop more than 300 enzymes involved in various functions such as digestion and nerve function. The common cold, wound healing, macular degeneration, and reproductive issues are just a few of the conditions that zinc is used to address. Zinc compounds (especially zinc citrate) are routinely used as supplements to avoid zinc deficiency, treat diarrhoea and lower respiratory infections in young kids.

Zinc – Immune System Support

A lack of zinc can result in a weaker immune response since it is required for immune cell activity. Zinc supplements like zinc citrate result in the activation of specific immune cells while also minimizing oxidative stress. Additionally, zinc supplements help to reduce the risk of infection and help fight the common cold, if it’s started early on1.

Scientific inquiries into the potency of zinc against the common cold have interested scientists since 1984. Most of their findings have revealed how effective zinc is in not only relieving symptoms of cold but also in aiding quick recovery from cold.

The Cleveland Clinic carried out a study where 100 adult patients who developed a common cold within 24 hours were placed under a controlled study2. Scientists divided the sample population into two; a group was given zinc enriched lozenges, while the other group got zinc-free lozenges. The group that took the zinc enriched lozenges recovered more quickly from the symptoms of cold than the latter group.

Experts found similar results in another study involving young Iranian children aged 1 to 7 years3. The group whose treatment regimen contained zinc supplement recorded a faster recovery pace from fever, sneezing, cough, and nasal congestion.

The findings of these two studies revealed that administering zinc to common cold patients within the first 24 hours of symptom onset is very effective in the treatment of common cold among children and adults.

Most times, parents would love to know how to prevent common colds in children, because prevention is better than cure after all. Zinc is also an effective ally in the prevention of the common cold in children and adults alike. In 2009, scientists polled a group of young school children who received a 10mg daily supplement of zinc in 5 winter months4. The group of kids who took the zinc supplements experienced less common cold episodes when compared to the control group who recorded more missing days from school.

Experts have also suggested that using zinc supplements may also bring an end to continued reliance on antibiotics in fighting bacterial infections.

Zinc – Promotes Wound Healing

This mineral is required for optimal healing since it plays a crucial role in the inflammatory response and collagen formation. In health facilities, burns, open wounds, and other lesions are often treated with zinc. Taking zinc supplements, such as zinc citrate can help individuals with injuries heal faster.

Zinc – Anti-Inflammatory

Zinc is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance that plays a crucial role in cell-mediated immunity. It inhibits oxidative stress and the amounts of inflammatory proteins in the body. Zinc supplementation has been proven to reduce the frequency of infections, oxidative stress, and the production of inflammatory responses in the elderly.

Zinc – Help with Paediatric Diarrhoea

Recent studies have suggested the supplementation of zinc along with oral rehydration solutions can help relieve acute diarrhoea in children by reducing the duration as well as severity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a daily dosage of 10mg is recommended for infants under 6 months, and 20mg zinc for children with acute diarrhoea5.

Zinc – Common Food Sources

Zinc is an essential nutrient that the body can’t produce. As a result, you’ll need to ensure you’re getting enough through your diet or consider supplementing.

Oysters

They are by far the best supplier of zinc with 100 grams containing a whopping 22 milligrams of the mineral. Oysters are super because they have a few calories of 66 kilocalories per 100g.

Liver and meat

The calf liver contains 8.4mg of zinc per 100g. The livers of pork (6.5mg / 100g) and beef (4.8mg / 100g) also contain trace elements in relevant quantities.

Meats rich in zinc are beef shoulder which has 5.2mg zinc per 100g, the beef prime rib has 4.9mg/100 g, veal muscle meat has 3mg/100g while sheep’s leg has 3.7mg/100g.

Cheese

The zinc content of cheese depends on the variety. Hard cheeses are higher in zinc than cream cheese. Emmentaler is the most zinc-rich (5.8mg / 100g). Edam cheese, butter and cheese, and Gouda cheese are also very good.

Nuts

Nuts are healthy, and in zinc content, pecans are the top nuts among the nuts. They deliver 5.3mg per 100g. Other nuts rich in zinc are:

Brazil nuts contain 4mg of zinc per 100g

Peanuts contain 2.8 mg/100g

Walnuts contain 2.7mg/100g

Almonds contain 2.2mg/100mg

Cashews contain 2.1mg/100g

Hazelnuts 1.9mg/100g.

Oatmeal

The breakfast cereal is not only high in iron and protein but also high in zinc. There is 4 mg of it in 100g.

Lentils

Lentils are one food rich in protein and also one of the most zinc-containing foods. 100g lentils score with 3.7mg zinc. Green peas and soybeans are also excellent sources of zinc – especially for vegetarians and vegans.

Seeds

The front runners in this category are the poppy seeds. You have 8.1mg of zinc per 100g. Flaxseed (unpeeled, 5.5mg / 100g) should also be on the menu regularly to meet the zinc requirement.

Egg yolks

Egg yolks have 100g of 3.8mg zinc, which is a very good value. However, egg white has only 0.02 g of zinc per 100g. For the zinc balance, only the consumption of egg yolk is beneficial.

Cocoa

Slightly de-oiled cocoa powder has 8.9mg zinc per 100g. Although dark chocolate is good, you must avoid consuming it because of its high sugar content. However, strong chocolate with cocoa has 95 to 100%, with little or no sugar here.

Zinc – How Much to Take

The recommended zinc intake level is expressed in the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): the amount of nutrients needed to meet the nutritional needs of most healthy individuals. The current RDAs for zinc are listed below, as recommended by Health Canada.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc

A higher zinc intake may confer additional benefits (please consult with your healthcare practitioner if you need specific guidance). Remember to follow the established tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for zinc as long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects11.

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Zinc

Who Needs Zinc Supplementation

Kids, pregnant or breastfeeding women, vegans and vegetarians, and many others are all at risk of zinc deficiency. For vegans/vegetarians, it is difficult to obtain zinc through food as zinc is mainly found in animal-based food, such as meat, shellfish, dairy, and eggs. Additionally, vegans typically consume a good amount of legumes and whole grains, which contain phytates that may disrupt zinc absorption.

Zinc – Toxicity and Cautions

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of zinc overdose (more than 40mg of zinc per day for adults). Some people may also experience stomach upset and diarrhoea. You can lower zinc dose, or take it together with meals to minimize adverse effects.

Studies have shown that prolonged elevated serum zinc levels can interfere with copper metabolism9. For long-term high-dose zinc supplementation, copper should be supplemented together to reduce the chance of copper deficiency. Zinc supplements have the potential to interact with several types of medications (such as some antibiotics, the drug – penicillamine and some diuretics, etc.) so zinc needs to be administered a few hours before or after taking other medications or natural health products.

What You Should Know About Zinc Citrate

When choosing zinc supplements, you will notice that there are a few forms of zinc compounds. Zinc citrate is one of the commercially available zinc sources you can find on the market.


Zinc Citrate – Tastes Good

One of the most commonly reported adverse effects of zinc supplementation is bad taste. Zinc sulphate, zinc gluconate, and zinc acetate are highly soluble salts with a strong, unpleasant, bitter and metallic flavour. These off-tastes can be noticeable even at low dosage levels of zinc salts in foods. However, zinc citrate is a high-zinc alternative that is somewhat water-soluble and has improved sensory qualities. It tastes less sour, more pleasant and results in minor stomach irritation than zinc sulphate. Zinc citrate is especially suitable for chewable gummies/crushable tablets because of its better taste.

Zinc Citrate – Good Absorption

Studies show a significantly higher zinc absorption from zinc citrate and indicate that zinc citrate could be a valuable compound for zinc supplementation. Zinc citrate is suitable for zinc-fortified meals and supplements because of its high bioavailability.

One randomized, double-masked clinical study investigated the absorption of zinc from 3 distinct sources6. 15 healthy individuals were recruited. Isotope-labeled zinc supplements were given without food. Zinc from zinc citrate demonstrated a relatively high absorption level (see figure below, the left box). In comparison, zinc from zinc gluconate is absorbed at a similar level, but this compound is significantly more expensive due to its low zinc content.

In contrast, zinc oxide is insoluble, and studies show that it has the lowest bioavailability of all zinc compounds (see above figure, the right box). 3 (out of 15) participants even had little or no detectable absorption from zinc oxide.

Overall, zinc citrate is the best alternative, given as a supplement without food. Compared to other zinc compounds, zinc citrate is highly absorbed by healthy individuals and appears to be more inexpensive. 

Zinc Citrate – Less Adverse Effects

Because each supplement includes a different amount of elemental zinc, the amount you should take per day varies. Nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains are common adverse effects if too much zinc is taken at once. A daily dose of 150 mg of zinc could make over half of the healthy people to experience nausea and vomiting7. Stomach pain incidences are sometimes reported too.

According to studies, zinc citrate was well tolerated in human participants, with less/no side effects reported8. Unlike zinc sulphate, zinc citrate results in minimal stomach irritations, as previously stated.

Best Kid’s Zinc Supplements in the Market

We know that getting kids to take vitamins can be challenging. We have purchased some of the best-selling zinc supplements for kids, available on the market today. The following products are selected based on formulation, taste/texture, parent’s opinion, clinical evidence, and community feedback. Please consult with your healthcare practitioner if you need specific guidance on zinc supplementation for your kids.

1. allKiDz® Zinc Gummies – Mixed Berry Flavour

This vegan-friendly gummy product features the superior zinc citrate form and is simply delicious. Here are some of the reasons why parents, kids, and health practitioners like this product:

  • allKiDz® Zinc Gummies are delicious juicy vegetarian gummies that kids love and at the same time they are teeth-friendly
  • Features higher zinc potency – 10 mg of zinc per gummy in the superior Zinc Citrate form
  • It is also a plant-based formula and does not contain animal gelatin. Vegetarian and Vegan-friendly!
  • Great immune-boosting properties for kids and the entire family!

The irresistible formula itself is pure and clean with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors. The natural flavors and colors on the Ingredients list are extracted from real fruits and vegetable powders, so kids can still experience a great taste without the use of artificial additives. Low in sugar (it uses tapioca syrup) and free of preservatives and common allergens (dairy, eggs, fish, mustard, peanuts, sesame, shellfish, soy, sunflower, tree nuts, wheat, and yeast). Also free of gluten and animal gelatin.

allKiDz® supplements are locally made in Canada. These juicy gummies are manufactured at a state-of-art Health Canada and FDA licensed facility with rigorous testing to ensure quality, brand integrity, and peace of mind.

While allKiDz® focuses on making premium natural supplements for kids, this specific product is safe and effective for adults too – especially for those who have difficulties swallowing or are sensitive to high-dose capsules.

Pros:

  • Safe & Clinical proven dose of zinc
  • Plant-based formula
  • Delicious with low sugar content
  • Superior zinc citrate form
  • Clean formula
  • Age-specific dosage recommendations
  • Suitable for the entire family, not just kids
  • Made in Canada

Cons:

  • Not suitable for toddlers (younger than 4 years old) unless cutting the gummies into small pieces

You can find the allKiDz® kids-friendly zinc citrate gummies by clicking here.

2. Animal Parade® KiD Zinc lozenges

Another delicious Zinc supplement for kids is Animal Parade® KiD Zinc by NaturesPlus. It comes in animal-shaped lozenges (tablets) that deliver 8 mg of zinc per tablet. The zinc source is both zinc gluconate and zinc monomethionine (chelated zinc). It also features a good amount of vitamin C (30 mg) to offer additional immune benefits.

  • Provides 8 mg zinc to support your children’s immune health
  • Includes vitamin C and ginger
  • Delicious tangerine flavor
  • Hypo-allergenic, vegetarian formula. Free from artificial colors and preservatives

Like other tablets, KiD Zinc uses sugar filler – in this case, sucrose and fructose, which are sometimes unpreferred by parents and practitioners.  In addition, it has a small amount of magnesium stearate which is required during the manufacturing process. There is some concern that magnesium stearate might keep the body from absorbing nutrients the way it should10.

Pros: 

  • Good dose of zinc
  • Plant-based formula
  • Vitamin C and ginger root
  • Convenient and tasty

Cons:

  • Not suitable for toddlers (younger than 4 years old) unless breaking the lozenges
  • Added fructose as filler
  • Contains magnesium stearate

3. Kids Liquid Zinc with Vitamin C by Organika

What makes this product special is that, since it is in a liquid form and has a lower potency per serving, it can be given to children as young as 1 year old ( if needed). Kids older than 4 usually prefer to have vitamins and minerals in chewable form, and most often as gummies.

Organika’s Zinc Liquid for kids provides zinc in both citrates (see above details on Zinc Citrate) and bisglycinate forms. With 3.5mg elemental zinc per teaspoon (5mL), it can be easily scaled up/down to fit various age groups. The additional vitamin C (200mg) offers additional benefits.

  • Liquid form, suitable for 1 year and above
  • Includes vitamin C
  • Good flavor with natural sweeteners
  • Clean formula with no allergens. No added sugar

It is an overall excellent product, except for two small caveats. As a liquid supplement, inevitably it uses the preservative potassium sorbate. Most health practitioners still have some concerns when it comes to synthetic preservatives in natural supplemental formulas that are meant to be used by young kids. Also, dosing precisely might be a challenge as this product isn’t in a dropper bottle, and it requires parents’ preparation before giving it to kids.

Pros:

  • Can be used in toddlers and children
  • Clean formula with good flavor
  • Zinc from superior citrate form
  • Vitamin C added
  • No sugar added

Cons:

  • Contains synthetic preservative
  • Not easy to dose precisely
  • Need parents’ supervision
  • A little pricy

4. TheraZinc Spray

Thera Zinc Spray made by Quantum Health is another product that people like to use. This product is in an oral spray form.

It provides immune-supporting zinc directly to your mouth and throat. On its US version, it recommends 8 sprays for adults and 4 sprays for 12-17 years. However, the adult group is the only permitted audience on its Canadian label.

  • Convenient spray form
  • 4mg elemental zinc (from gluconate) per dosage unit (8 sprays)
  • Also contains menthol, echinacea, and Elderberry extract for better symptom relief

As the spray comes directly to the back of your throat, some people may complain about its strong taste.

Pros:

  • Easy to carry and use
  • Complex formula that helps with symptom relief
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Strong taste
  • Not suitable for kids

Literature Cited:

  1. Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011; (2): CD001364.
  2. Mossad SB, MackninM, MedendorpS. Zinc gluconate lozenges for treating the common cold. Annals of Internal Medicine 1996;125(2):81-8.
  3. Parsa Yousefichaijan, Fatemeh Dorreh, Mahdyieh Naziri. The Effect of Zinc Sulfate on Duration of Common Cold Symptoms in Children. J. Biol. Today’s World. 2017 Oct; 6 (10): 186-190.
  4. Vakili R, Vahedian M, Khodaei GH, Mahmoudi M. Effects of zinc supplementation in occurrence and duration of the common cold in school-aged children during the cold season: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Iranian Journal of Pediatrics 2009;19(4):376-80.
  5. WHO (World Health Organization)-Zinc supplementation in the management of diarrhoea
  6. Wegmüller R, Tay F, Zeder C, Brnic M, Hurrell RF. Zinc absorption by young adults from supplemental zinc citrate is comparable with that from zinc gluconate and higher than from zinc oxide. J Nutr. 2014 Feb;144(2):132-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.181487. Epub 2013 Nov 20. PMID: 24259556; PMCID: PMC3901420.
  7. Samman S, Roberts DC. The effect of zinc supplements on plasma zinc and copper levels and the reported symptoms in healthy volunteers. Med J Aust. 1987 Mar 2;146(5):246-9. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1987.tb120232.x. PMID: 3547053.
  8. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai-Zinc
  9. IOM 2001: Institute of Medicine. Panel on Micronutrients, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington (DC): National Academy Press 2001.
  10. WebMD-What Is Magnesium Stearate?
  11. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zincexternal link disclaimer. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.