Zinc Gluconate vs Zinc Picolinate: What's the Difference?

Zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate are forms of dietary supplements that we use to prevent zinc deficiency. Zinc is an essential mineral that our body can easily absorb. Therefore, if we do not get enough amount of zinc, we may have to take these dietary supplements as directed by the doctor. When choosing a zinc supplement, it’s important to consider the type of zinc, dosage, and supplement form.


There are several types of zinc supplements. Supplements contain several forms of zinc, including zinc gluconate, zinc citrate and zinc picolinate. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. 

Chelated zinc is a general form of supplementary zinc in which the zinc is chelated — or bound — to a compound to make it easier for the body to absorb. Zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate are formed when zinc is chelated to picolinic acid or gluconic acid, so the main difference between zinc gluconate and picolinate is what compound it is bound to.

Different forms of zinc contain different amounts of elemental zinc, which refers to the weight of the zinc molecule by itself (Note: Most product labels tend to mark the elemental weight):
  • Zinc citrate is approximately 34% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 146 mg zinc citrate. (Examine) Meaning, 146 mg of zinc citrate is equivalent to 50 mg of elemental zinc.
  • Zinc sulfate consists 23% of elemental zinc; thus, 220 mg of zinc sulfate contains 50 mg of elemental zinc (NIH).
  • Zinc gluconate is approximately 13% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 385 mg zinc gluconate. (Examine)
  • Zinc monomethionine is approximately 21% zinc by weight. For a dose of 50mg elemental zinc, take 238 mg zinc monomethionine. (Examine)
  • Zinc picolinate (20% of elemental zinc) (Metabolics
  • Zinc ascorbate (15%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc chloride (48%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc carbonate (52%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc bisglycinate (25%) (Metabolics
  • Zinc oxide (80%) (FamilyPractice). Although the percentage of elemental zinc is high, do take note that zinc oxide is one of the least bioavailable form.
  • Zinc carnosine: The typical clinical oral dose is 150 mg/day, containing 34 mg zinc and 116 mg L-carnosine.
  • Zinc aspartate is approximately 20% zinc by weight. For a dose of 10 mg elemental zinc, you need 50 mg of zinc aspartate.
  • Zinc methionine is approximately 23% elemental zinc by weight. 

What is Zinc Gluconate?

This is the most common over-the-counter zinc supplement that’s found in your local drug or health food store. It’s made with gluconic acid is often found in oral supplements, nasal zinc sprays or lozenges. A meta-analysis indicates that zinc gluconate lozenges were able to reduce cold duration 28 percent.

Zinc gluconate is the zinc salt of gluconic acid. We can find gluconic acid in natural sources, but for the preparation of the supplement, industries produce gluconic acid via the fermentation of glucose by Aspergillus niger or some species of fungi.

More importantly, this compound is used to treat a common cold. We can use it in lozenges to treat the cold symptoms. When considering the side effects of this compound, anosmia (loss of smell) is a reported side effect. However, this compound is relatively safe than other zinc supplements.

What is Zinc Picolinate?

This chelated form of zinc salt is made with picolinic acid and is popular for oral use to reverse zinc deficiency. One study comparing the absorption of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate shows that there’s no significant change in any of these forms, but zinc picolinate did improve zinc absorption in humans.


Zinc in the form of zinc picolinate form is not recommended following reports of liver damage and tumors from studies about 20 years ago. Following these reports, the German Commission E that regulates supplements used in medical practice in Germany banned this form of zinc. 

What is Zinc Citrate?

This type of zinc is made with citric acid. A study found that when given as a supplement without food, zinc citrate absorption was comparable with that of zinc gluconate, and higher than zinc oxide.

Zinc citrate is the zinc salt of citric acid. This compound is well-known as a dietary supplement that is useful in preventing zinc deficiency. Typically, we take this orally as a capsule or as a tablet.

However, due to the presence of zinc, this may have a metallic taste. However, taking a small amount of beverage after taking the tablet can avoid this unusual taste. Moreover, this treatment may irritate the digestive tract, resulting in an upset stomach. Another important side effect is, we may get flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, chills, etc.

Zinc citrate is the form that's most commonly used in dental hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash to fight plaque and gingivitis.

What is Zinc Carnosine?

Zinc Carnosine is a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. A prescription medicine in Japan used to heal ulcers at 75 mg twice daily, this type of zinc is said to be helpful for leaky gut and healing stomach issues. It has a reputation for being better than antibiotics at healing h. pylori, the bacteria said to be responsible for stomach ulcers.

Zinc carnosine (also known as polaprezinc; Promac; L-CAZ, or taken as a self-named supplement) is a common form of zinc supplementation and medication.

A prospective randomized clinical trial published in 2017 showed that when antibiotic treatment for H. pylori infection was combined with zinc carnosine - the eradication rate was improved without added toxicity (Ref). A smaller trial published in 1999 reflected similar findings (Ref).

Zinc carnosine can be an amazing piece of any gut repair program & it was fun to learn that it does much more too.

Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are groups of proteins that are involved in the body’s ability to respond to inflammation, immune challenges, and stress. Genes that code for HSPs are highly regarded as “longevity” genes - the more active, the better.

While Zinc may indirectly help HSP expression through the promotion of mucosal health (a healthy home for flora to bind and grow), zinc carnosine is also an antioxidant and may support HSP expression directly.

Zinc nor L-carnosine have not been shown to support HSP expression by themselves, but the combined chelate form of zinc carnosine does support HSP activity for reasons that are still unclear.

What is the Difference Between Zinc Citrate, Zinc Picolinate and Zinc Gluconate?

According to the Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital, a person supplementing with zinc will find their best options in the form of zinc citrate, zinc acetate and zinc picolinate because these absorb the best. Zinc gluconate is not among the top three, but it is absorbed better than zinc oxide. As far as cost goes, zinc sulfate is the lowest-cost option among the supplements.

Zinc Gluconate vs zinc picolinate - Zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate are zinc salts. One key difference between zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate is that zinc picolinate is derived from picolinic acid, whereas zinc gluconate is derived from gluconic acid. Zinc picolinate is 20% elemental zinc whereas zinc gluconate has 13% of elemental zinc.

Another difference between zinc gluconate and picolinate is that zinc gluconate, along with zinc acetate, has antiviral properties. This makes it a good form for making lozenges and nasal gels that don't contribute to the amount of iron digested and absorbed by the body, but it can fight viruses infecting the nose and throat.

The Mayo Clinic explains that zinc-based lozenges and syrups can be effective if they are used within the first 24 hours of the sign of symptoms. However, be careful — use of intranasal zinc has been linked with the loss of smell.

Although different forms of zinc have different amounts of elemental zinc that can be used by the body, the National Institutes of Health explains that there is not enough research indicating whether there are any superior forms in terms of absorption, bioavailability or tolerability.

One older study — published in the June 1987 issue of Agents Actions — did look at the effectiveness of three forms of zinc supplement and may shed a little bit of light on choosing zinc glycinate versus picolinate. The study looked at only 15 healthy human subjects who were divided into four groups. Over the course of four weeks, the four groups were tested with zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc gluconate or a placebo.

Based on the zinc measurements in their hair, urine, erythrocyte and serum both before and after, zinc picolinate was the only form to raise zinc levels, at least in the hair, urine and erythrocyte. 

According to Chris Masterjohn: 

I don’t recommend using zinc oxide or zinc picolinate. People are often surprised that I recommend against picolinate. So, in this episode (below), I explain why.


What is chelated zinc?

Chelated zinc is a zinc supplement that’s easily absorbed by your body.

Because it’s difficult for your body to efficiently absorb zinc on its own, zinc is often attached to a chelating agent in supplements. A chelating agent is a substance that bonds with zinc to create a more absorbable end product.

Types of chelated zinc

Chelated zinc is mainly made using one of the following compounds: amino acids or organic acids.

Amino acids
  • aspartic acid: used to make zinc aspartate
  • methionine: used to make zinc methionine
  • monomethionine: used to make zinc monomethionine
Organic acids
  • acetic acid: used to make zinc acetate
  • citric acid: used to make zinc citrate
  • gluconic acid: used to make zinc gluconate
  • orotic acid: used to make zinc orotate
  • picolinic acid: used to make zinc picolinate
Zinc supplements combining zinc with inorganic acids such as sulfates (zinc sulfate) and oxides (zinc oxide) are also available.

Best Zinc Supplement 2021

1. Nature's Bounty Zinc 50 mg Caplets - Best Chelated Zinc and Best Seller



This product is the #1 best seller under the zinc mineral supplements on Amazon Best Sellers and has more than 100,000 customer reviews on Amazon.
  • One vegetarian-friendly caplet a day contributes to carbohydrate, protein, fat and energy metabolism, and helps promote wellness in key areas of reproductive health for men.
  • Plays a key role in the synthesis of testosterone.
  • During the summer months products may arrive warm but Amazon stores and ships products in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations, when provided.
Amazon Reviews: 4.8 out of 5 - More than 50,000 customer reviews on Amazon

2. Nature's Bounty Immune 24 Hour +  - Best Zinc Supplement for Seniors



Zinc dosage for senior: Men over age 60 do not usually meet their recommended daily zinc needs. On average, males in this demographic get 9.4 milligrams per day, slightly less than the recommendation, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a daily multivitamin or zinc supplement to further boost your zinc intake. Zinc can be toxic at high doses, causing severe gastrointestinal problems. It is unlikely to get excessive amounts of zinc from your diet, but you can overdose on supplements.

About this item:
  • Softgels contain Zinc (15 mg per serving daily; 136% of daily value), Vitamin A, C, D3, B6, B12, Biotin, Folate, Panthotenic Acid, Magnesium, Echinacea, Elderberry, Astralagus.
  • THE ONLY VITAMIN C WITH 24-HOUR IMMUNE SUPPORT: Nature's Bounty Immune 24 Hour + contains 1000mg of Ester-C, the only clinically studied Vitamin C with 24-hour immune support. Ester-C lasts up to 2x longer than regular Vitamin C
  • PLUS VITAMIN D & ZINC, WITH ELDERBERRY AND ECHINACEA: Immune 24 Hour + provides Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Zinc for extra immune plus antioxidant support. Also contains Elderberry and Echinacea, plus 9 essential nutrients to help keep you healthy
  • SUPPORTS UPPER RESPIRATORY HEALTH: Highly bioavailable Ester-C can increase Vitamin C levels in the body, which is important for white blood cell function, contributing to the health of the upper respiratory tract
  • NON-GMO FORMULA: Nature's Bounty Immune 24 Hour + is Non-GMO and contains No artificial flavor or artificial sweeteners, no sugar, no starch, no milk, no lactose, no soy, no gluten, no wheat, no yeast, no fish, sodium free
  • RAPID RELEASE SOFTGELS: For adults, Take 2 softgels daily, preferably with a meal.
Amazon Reviews: 4.8 out of 5 - More than 30,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

3. WonderLabs Zinc Lozenges with Vitamin C - Best Zinc for Respiratory Viral Infections


 
Buy on Amazon - Amazon's Choice (Amazon's Choice highlights highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately)

For prevention of respiratory viruses, zinc lozenges are preferred in order to spread the zinc through the tissues of the nose, mouth and throat. Unlike swallowed zinc, lozenges can spread zinc through these tissues quickly in response to symptoms, because their ability to spread zinc through these tissues is not limited by intestinal zinc transporters.

About this Item:
  • Nutritionally Supports a Healthy Immune System
  • Formulated with a perfect balance of 25 mg of Zinc, 30 mg of Vitamin C, 2mg of Vitamin B6, and a Proprietary Blend of Royal Jelly, White Willow Bark Ext., and Slippery Elm Bark Powder
  • Almost TWICE the amount of zinc per lozenge of cold-EEZE zinc lozenges
  • Fruit Flavored to provide children zinc lozenges without a large amount of added sugars
  • Internally tested and third party tested to ensure purity and potency so you get the highest quality vitamin
  • Made in the USA in a FDA Registered & Inspected Facility, under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's)
Amazon Reviews: 4.4 out of 5 - More than 2,000 customer reviews.

4. Sandhu's Zinc Quercetin (Best Zinc with Quercetin)

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A combination of quercetin and zinc to support immune health. 

Each capsule contains 400 mg of quercetin and 11 mg of zinc. Cost per capsule: $0.16. 

This product is the #2 best seller under the zinc mineral supplements on Amazon Best Sellers and has more than 7,000 customer reviews on Amazon.

For prevention of COVID-19, the FLCCC recommends 250 mg daily of quercetin and 30 mg of elemental zinc for prevention and the Zelenko protocol recommends 500 mg daily of quercetin and 25 mg of elemental zinc for prevention. If you wish to stick to the dosage which is within the range of the FLCCC - Zelenko protocols; that would be 250 mg to 500 mg daily for quercetin and 25 to 30 mg for zinc. 

One capsule of Sandhus quercetin and zinc will meet the prevention protocol requirement dosage for quercetin on a daily basis but the dosage for zinc is on the lower side. Therefore, you might wish to supplement your zinc with foods that are rich in zinc.

Amazon Best Sellers: #3 Best Seller in Zinc Supplements. 4.8 out of 5 overall rating with more than 7,000 customer reviews.

5. NOW Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels - Best Chelated Zinc

Chelated zinc is a type of zinc supplement that uses a chelating agent to help your body absorb zinc more easily.

While there are several chelated zinc supplements on the market, one of the best options is NOW Foods’ Zinc Glycinate softgels.

Each softgel contains 30 mg of zinc glycinate — a form of zinc that human and animal studies suggest may be better absorbed than other types of zinc. (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

All NOW Foods supplements are certified by Underwriters Laboratories and follow GMP to ensure the quality and accuracy of their products. Additionally, these supplements tend to be more affordable than many other high quality brands.

Amazon Reviews
4.7 out of 5 - More than 600 customer reviews.

6. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc - Best Vegan Option

While it’s not always obvious, some supplements can contain animal-derived ingredients, making the product unsuitable for vegans.

Some commonly used ingredients that aren’t vegan-friendly include digestive enzymes like lipase, caprylic acid from milk, gelatin, and magnesium stearate, which is often pork-derived.

Garden of Life is a whole-foods-based supplement brand with products that are certified organic and non-GMO verified.

Their Vitamin Code Raw Zinc is a good option for vegans, as it’s third-party tested to ensure the product is vegan, as well as gluten-free.

In addition to providing 30 mg of plant-based zinc, each serving also contains vitamin C, a raw organic fruit and vegetable blend, and live probiotics and enzymes to support healthy digestion.

It’s recommended that adults take one serving of 2 capsules per day with or without meals. For those who have difficulty swallowing pills, the capsules can also be opened to pour the contents into a glass of water or other beverage.

Amazon Reviews
4.8 out of 5 - More than 14,500 customer reviews.

7. NutriGold Zinc Gold - Best Organic

If you’re looking for an organic zinc supplement, NutriGold’s Zinc Gold is one of the best options out there.

Each capsule contains 15 mg of whole-foods-based zinc that’s derived from an organic sprouted blend, which the supplement claims may be gentler on your stomach.

Additionally, NutritGold’s supplements are certified organic by SCS Global Services, an official partner of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that sets sustainability, quality, and organic standards.

Each product is also third-party tested, as well as non-GMO and vegan certified.

Adults should take 1 capsule daily, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

8. Best Chewable Zinc Supplement 2020 - Best Zinc Gummy Supplement

Buy on Amazon 
  • The First Gummy Supplement of its Kind - Zinc 50mg Gummy with Vitamin D3, Echinacea (2 Month Supply) - Made in USA
  • Vitamin D with Zinc - Zinc Gummies 50mg for Adults Kids are an essential mineral supplement that are a powerful part of a healthy lifestyle. Zinc supplements are powerful antioxidants that support a strong immune response, wound healing, cell production and many other vital functions of your body just like Elderberry, Magnesium Citrate, Vitamin C & D3
  • Powerful Zinc Chewable Immune Support - Taking Zinc Chewable Gummies each day can help make up for a lack of other nutrients in the diet such as vitimin D, vitamin C, vitamin A as well as Elderberry. Zinc immune support has been shown to be a highly absorbable form of zink, allowing for faster protection against normal illnesses.
  • Zinc Supplements Gummies - Zinc Vitamins for Adults and Zinc Gummies for Kids can promote the production of collagen, and they may play a role in keeping your skin radiant and smooth. Immune Support Gummies Zinc wound-healing properties can be beneficial to maintaining skin’s           elasticity throughout aging.
  • Vegan Zinc Supplements - Taking zinc gummy vitamins for men women everyday may help promote longer deep sleep periods throughout the night. As a result, this zinc gummie supplement mineral vitamin helps to support your cognitive ability, mood, and energy levels. Zinc gummie absorb faster into the bloodstream, since they are chewed, rather than taking zinc lozenge, pills or capsules, or liquid zinc.

9. Best Zinc Supplement for Immune Support - Quercetin Zinc Vitamins C & D3 Bromelain Magnesium by Mt. Angel Vitamins

  • 300 capsules: 5 - 10 months supply
  • FORTIFIED FUNCTION – Sick of stuffy, sneezy, seasonal illnesses? Fight flare-ups with Mt. Angel Vitamins’ quercetin supplement! This nutrient blend helps boost better health so you can feel your best!
  • OVERALL AID – Bolster your body AND mind! Quercetin with vitamin C and zinc are proven not only to provide immune support but also to improve metabolism, circulatory supporty, and cognitive clarity!
  • BREATHE & BOUND – Revive your vitality! By fostering cellular functioning, your zinc quercetin capsules’ antioxidants enhance respiratory health and energy levels so you can enjoy activities!
  • TAKE IT EASY – Support, meet simplicity. To enjoy extra defense, take 1 of your quercetin with bromelain and zinc capsules twice daily. Bursting with 300 capsules, your bottle lasts longer than most brands’.

10. Dr. Mercola Zinc Plus Selenium


Your age, your diet, your current health status, your lifestyle, and even your zip code may be placing you at a greater risk for a deficiency that doesn’t need to happen.

With Zinc Plus Selenium, you get bioavailable forms of zinc, selenium, and copper to help you maintain a healthy mineral balance to support your:
  • Healthy cell growth and replication*
  • Healthy immune response*
  • Brain and cognitive health*
  • Respiratory health*
  • Healthy metabolism*
  • Strong, healthy bones*
  • Vision and eye health*
*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.

Amazon Ratings: 4.7 out of 5 - more than 1,400 ratings.

Related Products for Immune Support:

Key Practical Takeaway

If you think a zinc supplement is right for you, talk to your doctor about which form you should take. This is especially important because zinc can interfere with your body's absorption of copper and iron, so you might need to supplement those minerals as well.

Supplements you can purchase from Amazon for COVID-19 prevention. Inspired by the FLCCC prevention protocol 
 

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