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)
  • 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. NOW Foods Zinc Glycinate Softgels - Best Chelated Zinc

SHOP NOW AT AMAZON 

Price: From $11.49

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

Zinc Dosage : 30mg

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.

I take this in combination with Vitamin A to help with cystic acne, and have noticed a drastic improvement in both my acne and my overall complexion. I have noticed little to no side effects since taking Now Foods Zinc Glycerinate 30mg Soft-gels over a year ago.


2. Pure Micronutrients Pure Zinc Chelate



Price: From $20.00

Amazon Reviews: 4.7 out of 5. More than 4,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

Zinc Dosage : 25mg

FAST RELIEF / PEAK IMMUNE SUPPORT – Our advanced zinc chelate supplements deliver zinc in the form of Bisglycinate, a clinically proven highly absorbable form that's faster acting. Pure Zinc further acts to neutralize free radicals, enhances the body's inflammatory response, and increases energy levels, the foundations for a strong healthy immune system. 

FEEL ENERGETIC, ENJOY CLEAR SKIN, SUPPORT REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH - Specifically designed to restore optimal zinc levels critical for energy production, healthy immune function and growth / repair within the body. Zinc is an essential mineral for cell function and healthy tissue development, in particular, DNA synthesis and cell division, promoting a healthy reproductive system, skin (eg: acne), hair & eyes and great for avoiding common illness.

GENTLE, NO UPSET STOMACH - Pure Zinc contains a very gentle form of Zinc that breaks down in the small intestine, greatly reducing the incidence of digestive discomfort, nausea and/or diarrhoea or constipation. Perfect for women, men, elderly, women during pregnancy & teenagers who are prone to stomach irritability following vitamin supplementation. Pure Zinc is easily digested with or without food.

NATURAL, PURE & TRUSTED – Pure Zinc is the perfect natural alternative to pharmaceutical medicines. Contains only pure ingredients; gmo free, no fillers, preservatives or other non-active ingredients - so you can reap the benefits, nurture & protect your body, without any of the Nasties. Kosher & Halal friendly. #1 Pharmaceutical Grade, USA MADE, Third Party Tested with a 100% Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee.

Review 
My nutrition coach insisted I find a zinc supplement to add to my health regimen. I usually avoid supplements, therefore this is the only one in my arsenal. I take it every morning and feel confident in its benefits. I survived the flu season without a single sniffle or sneeze (hope it's fair to give this product some credit for that). I have paired this product with a healthier diet throughout the last few months and have noticed a great improvement in my energy and well being. 


3. Albion Minerals Smarter Vitamins Zinc Glycinate 


Price: From $16.00

Amazon Reviews: 4.6 out of 5. More than 1,500 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

Zinc Dosage : 15mg
- 15mg Zinc Glycinate from Albion® 
- Boosted with 5 Extra Essential Trace Minerals to Support Metabolism, DNA and Enhanced Supplement 
- 90 Plant-Based Vegan Capsules

- Enhanced Multi-Mineral Zinc Supplement with Selenium, Manganese, Boron, Chromium, Selenium, Molybdenum For Next Level Trace Mineral Boost In Health. 
- MicroMinerals Supports Cellular Energy Production, Hormones, Neurotransmitters, Metabolism and DNA.
- 6 Essential Trace Minerals Complex 
- 1 Plant Based Capsule Pill Supports you with a Multi Mineral Supplement In Chelate, Glycine, Bisglycinate + Glycinate Absorable forms. 
- No Citrate or Oxide Forms
- Made in the USA without Fillers, Magnesium Stearate, Dioxides, Silica, Maltodextrin, Carrageenan, Soy, Milk, Egg, Corn, Tree Nuts, Artificial Colors, or Preservatives.

I'm sleeping better, my joints feel better, I feel better overall. I don't know if it's random or the supplement but I don't want to stop using it. Plus my dr said my boron levels were low so this is a great way to bring them up and that can help my nails and hair as well.

4. NutriGold Zinc Gold - Best Organic


Price: $18.38

Zinc Dosage : 15mg

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.

5. Nature's Bounty Zinc 50mg Caplets 



Price: From $5.21

Amazon Reviews: 4.8 out of 5. More than 50,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

Zinc Dosage : 50mg

This product is the #1 best seller under the zinc mineral supplements on Amazon Best Sellers and has more than 50,000 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.


6. SM Nutrition - Chelated Zinc Glycinate



Price: From $19.00

Amazon Reviews: 4.8 out of 5. More than 250 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

Zinc Dosage : 30mg

- Zinc Glycinate Chelate
- 30 mg Supplement (120 Capsules)
- TRAACS Chelated Bisglycinate Zinc, Vitamin B6 & BioPerine
- Zinc Supplements for Immune Support, Acne & Metabolism

OPTIMAL ZINC BIOAVAILABILITY: Chelated Zinc Glycinate by SMNutrition uses the patented TRAACS delivery system to bind this essential mineral to amino acids for thorough absorption. Each serving contains net 30mg of elemental Zinc, with BioPerine and Vitamin B-6 added to make this the most absorbable Zinc available.

IMMUNE SUPPORT: Studies indicate that Zinc is critical for supporting overall immune function.

WIDE-RANGING BENEFITS: Supplementing with a Zinc vitamin may support: skin health, hormone balance, heart health, digestive health, liver health, and much more

I've been taking zinc for many years for a medical condition...this product is awesome and seems more bioavailable than other brands I've tried. It is CLEAN...and as someone with celiac I am grateful!



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

Price: From $19.92

Amazon Reviews: 4.8 out of 5. More than 30,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

- Best Zinc Supplement for Seniors
- Contains 1000mg of Ester-C, the only clinically studied Vitamin C with 24-hour immune support.
- Provides Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Zinc for extra immune plus antioxidant support. Also contains Elderberry and Echinacea, plus 9 essential nutrients.
- 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.
- Take 2 soft gels daily, preferably with a meal.

So I got diagnosed with COVID. Best two weeks of my life. Lost my taste of taste/smell, go to the doctor, boom COVID. Two week quarantine with my buddy at his place= two week paid vacation from work to drink beer and play video games. No other symptoms but the taste and smell thing. This isn't about COVID though its about the product.

I took this coupled with a dosage of Vitamin-D3 and I felt healthy as an ox in no time, taste and smell came back after a few days too. I was able to enjoy my foods and beverages again.
Easy to swallow, No bad flavors, Good product. Saved my life from COVID.

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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