Product Reviews
Zinc Supplements and Lozenges Review
 

Initial Posting: 10/6/17  Last Update:4/14/20
Zinc Supplements and Lozenges Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com
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Summary:
  • What is it? Zinc is an essential mineral, one of the few nutrients for which a mild deficiency is not uncommon. (see What It Is). Zinc is naturally found in meats and other foods (see Getting Zinc -- From Food)
  • What does it do? Zinc supplements (typically taken in pill form) can reverse or prevent zinc deficiency (which can otherwise impair the immune system, cause diarrhea, reduce taste, etc.) and help slow advanced macular degeneration of the retina. Zinc is also taken as a lozenge (or other orally dissolving formulation) to act locally on the throat to reduce the duration of a cold. (See What It Does).
    • COVID-19 UPDATE: Zinc lozenges are being promoted to help prevent or treat COVID-19, the infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There is no direct evidence proving that zinc lozenges can do this, although supplementing with appropriate amounts of zinc may benefit people deficient in zinc. See the COVID-19 section for details.
  • How much to take, and which form? The daily requirement for zinc ranges from 3 mg for children to 14 mg for lactating women (see Dosage). No form is particularly better absorbed than another and zinc gluconate is typically the least expensive. To reduce the duration of a cold, take a lozenge (or other orally dissolving formulation providing 9 to 23 mg of zinc as either zinc gluconate or zinc acetate) every 2 to 3 hours during the day, allowing it to fully dissolve in the mouth: Limit treatment to a week because chronic intake of too much zinc (see upper intake levels) can reduce copper absorption, leading to copper deficiency that can impair the immune system.
  • Best zinc? Among supplements that passed testing, we identified our Top Pick for Pills, Top Pick for Lozenges, and Top Pick for Other Orally Dissolving Formulations. We found that you can pay as little as 1 cent or more than $1 to get an equivalent dose of high quality zinc — there is no need to overspend.
  • Cautions: As noted above, don't take too much zinc and don't take with fiber, which inhibits absorption of zinc. Be aware of drug interactions with zinc, particularly for certain antibiotics. (See Concerns and Cautions).
What It Is:
Zinc is an essential mineral, one of the few nutrients for which a number of people are mildly deficient. Zinc deficiency is especially common in adolescents, infants, seniors and women in general, although severe deficiency is rare in developed countries. Zinc deficiency can cause slowed growth in infants and children and impaired immune function. Deficiency has also been associated with recurrent aphthous stomatitis (canker sores) (Hamid, Int J Contemp Med Res 2017). Symptoms of severe deficiency can include hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities and loss of taste (NIH 2018; Schiffman, Eur J Clin Nutr 2000). Certain drugs and nutrients can inhibit zinc absorption and/or increase its excretion (see "Using Zinc," below). Thus, for many people, increasing the intake of zinc-containing foods or taking a zinc supplement, either alone or as part of a multivitamin/multimineral, may be a prudent form of nutritional insurance.

As a dietary supplement, zinc is found in many forms, including zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, zinc citrate, zinc sulfate, zinc chelates, zinc carbonate, zinc orotate, and zinc picolinate. (See ConsumerTips for information about the forms of zinc and foods that contain zinc.)

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