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What Are the Benefits of Zinc?

Key Takeaways:

  • Zinc is important for immune system support, and can be found in many foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, legumes, and whole grains.
  • There are many different forms of zinc supplements, each with varying levels of absorption.

Most of us are familiar with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and maybe even potassium, but what about zinc? Zinc is a trace mineral, meaning the body only needs it in small amounts, yet it is still essential for more than 300 enzymes to carry out vital biochemical reactions.

What does this small-but-mighty mineral do? And where can it be found? We’ll go over everything you need to know about zinc, including how to find the right zinc supplement for you.

Let’s get into it.



What does zinc do in the body?

Zinc is essential for many bodily functions. It is a major player in the creation of DNA, growth of cells, building proteins, and supporting the immune system.1 Because of its role in helping cells to grow and multiply, adequate zinc is important during times of rapid growth, such as childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.2

Zinc and the immune system

Zinc plays a significant role in many aspects of the immune system. It helps the growth and function of cells in your innate immune system, including T and B cells, which help your body protect against foreign substances (antigens).3

Because zinc supports the growth and normal functioning of immune cells, even a mild or moderate deficiency can slow down the activity of lymphocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages that protect the body from viruses and bacteria.4

Zinc and skin health

Your body needs zinc to synthesize new collagen.* Collagen is a structural protein that forms the basis for healthy and vibrant skin. Healthy skin contributes to immune function as the skin serves as the body’s first line of defense. .5


Foods rich in zinc

Food Mg of inc per serving Percent of Daily Value
(Eastern, farmed, raw, 3 ounces)
32 291
(Bottom sirloin, roasted, 3 ounces)
3.8 35
Pumpkin seeds
(Roasted, 1 ounce)
2.2 20
(Center loin, bone-in, 3 ounces)
1.9 17
(Cheddar, 1.5 ounces)
1.5 14
(Boiled, ½ cup)
1.3 12

Source: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

Thankfully, incorporating zinc in your diet is easy as many foods that contain zinc.

Meats, poultry, and seafoods are the best sources of zinc, but zine can also be found in some plant foods like legumes and whole grains. However, these foods also often contain phytates that can bind to the mineral, lowering its absorption.6

If you do not get enough zinc through your diet, taking a supplement is an easy and effective way to ensure you’re not missing out on the nutrients you need.


Zinc citrate…zinc picolinate…chelated zinc…what’s the difference?

Perhaps you’ve decided to try a zinc supplement, but when you’ve stood in the supplement aisle you’ve realized…there’s so many options! Indeed, there are many forms of this trace mineral, and it can be difficult to figure out which one is right for you.

Let’s look at the difference between chelated zinc, zinc citrate, and zinc picolinate.

Chelated Zinc

“Chelation” of minerals simply refers to a mineral being organically bonded to an amino acid. These amino acid chelates can help facilitate solubility and optimal absorption, and are gentle on the stomach.7 Solgar® offers a chelated zinc that is bound to amino acid glycine.

Solgar® Chelated Zinc contributes to healthy skin, can function as an antioxidant, and supports a healthy immune system.* The chelated form offers optimal absorption, and is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free.

Zinc Picolinate

Zinc picolinate is made when the trace mineral zinc is bound to the organic acid, picolinic acid. Picolinic acid is a metabolite of the amino acid tryptophan that is naturally made in the body. Zinc picolinate is a highly bioavailable form of zinc. 

Solgar® Zinc Picolinate combines 22 mg of zinc with picolinic acid. This formula is also vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Zinc Citrate

Zinc citrate is another version of zinc, this time derived from citric acid.

Solgar® Zinc Citrate offers 30 mg of zinc per serving, and helps promote healthy skin, cell growth and DNA formation, and a healthy immune system.* Like chelated zinc and zinc picolinate, it is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free.

Bonus: Zinc lozenges

Solgar® Flavo-Zinc Zinc Lozenges are a tasty way to get your daily dose of zinc. With a natural lemon-lime flavor, these lozenges offer 23 mg of zinc immune support per serving, and are vegan and gluten-free.*


Groups at risk of not getting adequate zinc

Because zinc is so readily available in food and your body does not require much of it, zinc deficiencies are rare. However, some groups of people who may have a higher risk of not getting adequate zinc are:

  • People who do not absorb zinc well due to digestive disorders
  • People who have undergone gastrointestinal surgery
  • Pregnant or lactating women
  • Vegetarians/vegans: Plant-based sources of zinc often have lower bioavailability than animal foods8


Summing it up

From immune support to skin health, zinc plays an essential role in many bodily functions.* Foods such as shellfish, beef, poultry, legumes, and whole grains are excellent sources of zinc, and zinc supplements also offer readily available zinc benefits. No matter what form you take it in, don’t miss out on zinc’s many benefits!

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Solgar® site.