Zinc is an essential mineral that contributes to our total physical and mental well-being. It is a key player in the optimal functioning of the reproductive organs, and an important element involved in basic cellular function. Zinc also strengthens the human immune system and deters common skin conditions. It acts as a cofactor with more than 300 different enzymes, boosting the functioning of many of the body's most basic chemical processes.
Types of Zinc
Zinc is not easily absorbed in the body unless first attached to another substance. For this reason, many zinc manufacturers have "chelated" zinc to amino acids. Supplemental zinc is also available in the inorganic and non-chelated form — usually called zinc sulfate or zinc oxide.
1. Chelated Zinc
This form of zinc has undergone a process called chelation, whereby the organic molecules have been given an electrical charge that allows them to positively attract the charged mineral (in this case zinc). This creates a temporary increase in the complexity and concentration of the mineral within the molecule.
In other words, each molecule packs more concentrations of zinc via a process of attaching the mineral to something else, such as an amino acid. The belief is that this helps the body better absorb the mineral. There is much debate as to whether the process increases absorption. Dr. Gabe Mirkin from the Baylor University School of Medicine feels that chelating minerals has an insignificant effect on absorption when compared to the general conditions in the digestive system.
2. Zinc Orotate
Zinc orotate is zinc that has been chelated to orotic acid. The human body’s cellular membranes readily absorb this type of zinc. Research from Dr. Hans Nieper has found that orotate forms of zinc were more neutrally charged, as compared to other types of zinc. This allowed them to pass through the membranes of cells easily, leading to higher tissue concentrations of zinc. Zinc orotates contain many antioxidant properties that can protect your health while offering your cells the most readily-absorbable form of zinc on the market today.
3. Zinc Picolinate
A form of zinc that has been chelated to picolinic amino acids.
4. Zinc Gluconate
One of the most popular forms of dietary zinc, zinc gluconate is created by fermenting glucose. It produces a supplemental product with an extremely long shelf-life. Unfortunately, gluconate supplements are just a chemical substitute for actual zinc.
The body absorbs very little of this processed form, as the bioavailability of these chemicals is virtually none.
5. Zinc Acetate
Another chemically-altered form of zinc, acetates are considered to be more absorbable than gluconate. This form of zinc, also known as zinc salt dihydrate and zinc diacetate, is created by adding acetic acid to zinc carbonate or zinc metal. I would not recommend this form of zinc although this form can aid in reducing the duration of the common cold, as well as offer relief for Wilson's disease, a genetic disorder whereby the body stores toxic levels of copper.
6. Zinc Oxide
This inorganic compound of zinc is most commonly used in topical ointments for addressing minor skin conditions such as burns and irritation. It is also a common ingredient in sunscreens. This type is a non-chelated, inorganic form of zinc. The results are mixed on if the body can absorb and metabolize this form of inorganic zinc.
7. Zinc Sulfate
Water-soluble and non-chelated, this is an inorganic form of zinc, and the results are mixed on if the body can absorb and metabolize it.
Taking a Zinc Supplement
Zinc is an essential mineral for human life, and it provides numerous health benefits, from the immune system to boosting testosterone. There are many types of zinc, but for supplementation, I recommend a product that contains plant-based zinc like Global Healing’s liquid Zinc.
When you take zinc in a natural plant-based form, it's chelated to natural elements, which enhances the ability of your body to absorb it as it would zinc from a food source — because that's what it is.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.