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Zinc Citrate Anhydrous (Zinc)

Zinc Citrate Anhydrous (Zinc)

Zinc Citrate Anhydrous (Zinc)

Zinc is one of the most abundant trace minerals in the body, playing a key role in enhancing immune function, stabilising blood sugar levels, and support skin, eyes, and heart health.

The vital mineral that plays a crucial role in various physiological functions within the body, where it is required as a cofactor in over 300 different enzymes.

This means that the mineral is essential in nearly every aspect of your health.

It’s involved in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, the breakdown of carbohydrates, enhancing action insulin, and it is necessary for the sense of smell and taste.

During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, zinc is a requirement for proper growth and development. (1)

Among the various other popular forms of zinc supplements, including zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, zinc sulfate, and zinc picolinate, zinc citrate has gained attention for its potential benefits.

It’s one of the more well absorbed forms of the mineral but has a less bitter, more appealing taste.

In this article, we’ll explore the properties and advantages of zinc citrate, as well as the benefits more generally of zinc usage.

Scroll down to start reading, or click on any of the headings below to skip to a section. 

What is zinc citrate and what does it do for the body?

Before we can understand the significance of zinc citrate, we need to first look at the role of zinc as a whole.

Zinc is a trace element, meaning that it is present in the human body in extremely small amounts. (2)

And while there’s not much of it to go around, zinc is crucial for maintaining overall health through its participation in numerous enzymatic reactions in:

  • gene expression
  • enzymatic reactions
  • immune function
  • protein synthesis
  • DNA synthesis
  • wound healing
  • growth and development (3)

As we’ll explore below, zinc is important for things like the body’s immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more.

And, significantly, the body doesn’t store excess zinc. This means you need to ensure zinc levels are optimised through your diet, or face the various impacts of a zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency is a major health problem worldwide, especially in developing countries.

It has been designated by the World Health Organisation as a major disease contributing factor and can present with growth impairment, sexual dysfunction, inflammation, gastrointestinal symptoms, or cutaneous involvement. (4)

Zinc citrate is a form of zinc that is combined with citric acid to offer a more bioavailable form of the mineral for enhanced absorption.

It’s popular in various supplements, including Super Sleep because of its ability to be better absorbed, as well as having a more tolerable taste than other forms of zinc.

Is zinc citrate better than zinc?

Well, yes and no.

Zinc citrate is a form of zinc. So in that sense, it’s not really as comparable.

But zinc citrate is very comparable to the other popular forms of zinc, including:

Zinc gluconate

This is one of the most common forms of zinc available over the counter. It’s used in nasal sprays, lozenges and other cold remedies.

Zinc acetate

Similarly to zinc gluconate, this form of zinc is added to supplements to help reduce cold symptoms and speed up recovery.

Zinc sulfate

This form of zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of acne, as well as helping prevent zinc deficiency.

Zinc picolinate

According to some older studies, this is one of the most highly absorbed forms of zinc.

Zinc orotate

This form of zinc, where it is bound to the compound known as orotic acid, is one of the most common types of zinc supplements that’s available over the counter.

While the water-soluble zinc salts gluconate, sulfate, and acetate have been commonly used as supplements to prevent zinc deficiency, research from as early as 2013 has found that zinc citrate, given as a supplement without food, is as well absorbed by healthy adults as zinc gluconate and may be a useful alternative for preventing zinc deficiency. (5)

What are the benefits of zinc supplements?

Zinc supplements in general, including zinc citrate, offer a myriad of health benefits. These include:

Treating zinc deficiency

Because the body is unable to produce zinc on its own, people with impaired nutrient absorption, certain health conditions or restrictive diets may be at risk of zinc deficiency.

This can lead to hair loss, poor appetite, diarrhoea, slow wound healing, and decreased immunity in general.

According to a 2023 review into zinc deficiency, most cases of zinc deficiency can be corrected by taking zinc supplements and making changes to your diet to include more zinc-rich foods. (6)

People with restrictive diets (including vegans and vegetarians), impaired nutrient absorption, or certain health conditions may be more susceptible.

Zinc improves immune system function

Zinc’s ability to improve the body’s immune function and decrease inflammation has made it popular in many over-the-counter remedies and medications.

It has been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold by up to 33% (7).

Zinc also acts as an antioxidant, helping to combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage, helping to protect the body against some chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

There is even evidence to suggest it can prevent symptoms and shorten the duration of certain respiratory tract infections. (8)

Zinc and balancing blood sugar

Some research suggests that zinc can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and even improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin (9), which is the hormone responsible for taking sugar from the bloodstream into the body’s tissue.

Low zinc levels have been reported to be link to impaired blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes. (10)

Can zinc help reduce acne?

Various zinc supplements on the market are used to treat common skin conditions like acne and improve skin health in general.

Zinc sulphate is the form of zinc that has been proven to be most useful in decreasing symptoms of mild to moderate acne.

A 2020 review found that people with acne tended to have less zinc in their blood than those without acne. It also found that zinc supplements were able to help decrease the average amount of inflammation caused by acne. (11)

It should be noted that while there are many other treatment methods for acne, zinc is often a popular choice because it is relatively inexpensive, proven to be effective and typically has fewer side effects (which you can check out below).

What foods are highest in zinc?

The good news is that you often don’t need to turn to supplements to increase the levels of zinc in your body.

The valuable mineral is readily available in oysters, or the far more accessible forms of red meat and poultry.

Food

Milligrams (mg) zinc per serving

Oysters

Approximately 30 (depending on variety) in a 90g serving

Beef (steak)

3.8 in a 90g serving

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2.2 in a 30g serving

Crab

3.2 in a 90g serving

Oats (rolled, cooked in water)

2.3 in a 1 cup serving

Cheese (cheddar)

1.5 in a 45g serving

Sardines (canned in oil, drained)

1.1 in a 90g serving

Milk (1% fat)

1 in 1 cup

Peanuts

0.8 in a 30g serving

Egg

0.6 in 1 large egg

Salmon (cooked)

0.5 in a 90g serving

Rice (white, long-grain)

0.3 in ½ cup cooked rice

Bread (white)

0.2 in 1 slice

Source: HealthDirect.gov.au

Are zinc supplements safe?

When determining whether you need zinc supplements or not, doctors will typically use blood results and  consider risk factors like poor dietary intake or genetics (12).

If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to obtain the required levels of zinc through food, you must obtain it via supplementation.

This can be done either in the form of zinc supplements or through multi-nutrient supplements that also provide zinc.

Dosage recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowance of zinc for adult males is 11mg, and 8mg is recommended for adult females. (13)

People who are pregnant are recommended to consume 11mg per day, and increase that to 12mg per day when breastfeeding. (14)

In reality, most people should be able to reach their Recommended Dietary Allowance through diet alone.

If you are required to take supplements, it’s recommended that you choose absorbable forms like zinc citrate or zinc gluconate because of their absorption potential. (15)

Side effects

As with most supplements, excessive intake of zinc can create a toxicity within the body.

The most common cause of zinc toxicity is too much supplemental zinc, which can cause both acute and chronic symptoms, including:

  • nausea and vomiting;
  • diarrhoea;
  • abdominal cramps and pain; and
  • (16)

Zinc toxicity can also impair the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients, including copper and iron, meaning that it may cause deficiencies in other nutrients.

Conclusion

Zinc plays a crucial role in the body’s key functions of DNA synthesis, immune function, metabolism, and growth.

Zinc citrate stands out as a valuable form of zinc supplementation, offering enhanced bioavailability and potential health benefits.

If you need to use high dose supplements, you need to be aware that they could lead to uncomfortable, and even dangerous, side effects. Please make sure to consult with a healthcare professional and always stick to the Recommended Dietary Allowance.

References

  1. Rabinovich D, Smadi Y. Zinc. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547698/
  2. Rabinovich D, Smadi Y. Zinc. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547698/
  3. Ryu M-S, Aydemir TB. Zinc. In: Marriott BP, Birt DF, Stallings VA, Yates AA, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 11th ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell; 2020:393-408.
  4. Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2023 Jun 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493231/
  5. Wegmüller R, Tay F, Zeder C, Brnic M, Hurrell RF. Zinc absorption by young adults from supplemental zinc citrate is comparable with that from zinc gluconate and higher than from zinc oxide. J Nutr. 2014 Feb;144(2):132-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.181487. Epub 2013 Nov 20. PMID: 24259556; PMCID: PMC3901420.
  6. Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2023 Jun 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493231/
  7. Hemilä H. Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage. JRSM Open. 2017 May 2;8(5):2054270417694291. doi: 10.1177/2054270417694291. PMID: 28515951; PMCID: PMC5418896.
  8. Hunter J, Arentz S, Goldenberg J, Yang G, Beardsley J, Myers SP, Mertz D, Leeder S. Zinc for the prevention or treatment of acute viral respiratory tract infections in adults: a rapid systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ Open. 2021 Nov 2;11(11):e047474. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047474. PMID: 34728441; PMCID: PMC8578211.
  9. Cruz KJ, Morais JB, de Oliveira AR, Severo JS, Marreiro DD. The Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Insulin Resistance in Obese Subjects: a Systematic Review. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2017 Apr;176(2):239-243. doi: 10.1007/s12011-016-0835-8. Epub 2016 Sep 1. PMID: 27587022.
  10. Tamura Y. The Role of Zinc Homeostasis in the Prevention of Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular Diseases. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2021 Nov 1;28(11):1109-1122. doi: 10.5551/jat.RV17057. Epub 2021 Jun 19. PMID: 34148917; PMCID: PMC8592709.
  11. Yee BE, Richards P, Sui JY, Marsch AF. Serum zinc levels and efficacy of zinc treatment in acne vulgaris: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Dermatol Ther. 2020 Nov;33(6):e14252. doi: 10.1111/dth.14252. Epub 2020 Sep 15. PMID: 32860489.
  12. Wieringa FT, Dijkhuizen MA, Fiorentino M, Laillou A, Berger J. Determination of zinc status in humans: which indicator should we use? Nutrients. 2015 May 6;7(5):3252-63. doi: 10.3390/nu7053252. PMID: 25954900; PMCID: PMC4446750.
  13. Hemila H. Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage. JRSM Open 2017;8:2054270417694291. [PubMed abstract]
  14. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 12, Zinc. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222317/
  15. Wegmüller R, Tay F, Zeder C, Brnic M, Hurrell RF. Zinc absorption by young adults from supplemental zinc citrate is comparable with that from zinc gluconate and higher than from zinc oxide. J Nutr. 2014 Feb;144(2):132-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.181487. Epub 2013 Nov 20. PMID: 24259556; PMCID: PMC3901420.
  16. Agnew UM, Slesinger TL. Zinc Toxicity. [Updated 2022 Dec 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554548/
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