While zinc deficiency isn’t all that common, it is more likely on a vegan diet.
Zinc is harder to come by, since the best sources are meats and clams/oysters, plus plant zinc is less bioavailable (Source).
It’s important to have enough zinc for many reasons. It’s involved in many bodily functions, including your immune system, wound healing, DNA synthesis.
Most people take zinc supplements for their immune system or to improve their skin. But there’s also some evidence of other benefits, like that zinc can help insomnia and simply improve sleep in others.
Here’s a list of vegan zinc food sources so you can determine if you’re getting enough in your diet. If you’re on any other medications, check with your doctor before taking a zinc supplement to make sure it won’t interfere.
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Why Aren’t All Zinc Supplements Vegan?
Minerals can’t be synthesized in a lab like vitamins can be.
Since all the best zinc sources are from animals, it can be extracted from them.
In addition, supplements that come in capsules often contain other ingredients that aren’t vegan like gelatin and non-plant derived glycerin.
In short, you’ll need to find a zinc supplement that’s clearly made for vegans.
Many zinc supplements are made using zinc extracted from animals, so look for a supplement specifically labelled as “vegan”.
Which Form of Zinc is Best?
If you browse around, you’ll see 3 main forms of zinc:
- Zinc sulfate – Similar rate of absorption to zinc gluconate, but zinc gluconate tablets are 14.3% zinc by weight, while zinc sulfate is 23% zinc by weight (Source). In other words, you don’t need to take as much.
- Zinc gluconate – About the highest absorption rate you’ll get, and doesn’t cause side effects for most people (Source).
- Zinc oxide – Typically used in skincare products, but also a few zinc supplements. It has a much lower absorption rate than other forms, so I’d recommend going with a different option.
Either zinc sulfate or gluconate are fine for the vast majority of people. The supplements recommended below contain one or the other.
The Best Vegan Zinc Supplements
Before I recommend a few vegan zinc supplements, the last question is how much zinc do you need from a supplement.
Factor in that you’ll get some from your diet, plus:
- Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) – The RDA for zinc for adults is 8 mg (male) to 11 mg (female) per day.
- Maximum amount – The tolerable upper intake for zinc is 40 mg for adults (much less for kids). Intakes of 150–450 mg of zinc per day is where very serious side effects start appearing (Source).
Keep in mind that get 40 mg of zinc from a 40 mg tablet of a zinc supplement. For example, since 23% of zinc sulfate consists of elemental zinc, 50 mg of zinc sulfate only has 11.5 mg of actual zinc.
If you’re worried about overdoing it, take supplements every other day, and consult your doctor about any safety concerns.
Here’s a summary table of the 3 best vegan zinc supplements that I’ve found, before moving onto a detailed look of each:
|MaryRuth’s Zinc Sulfate
|Yuve Vegan Natural Zinc
|GIVOL Organic Zinc
They’re all “good” zinc supplements, so you can’t really go too wrong with your choice.,
This is about twice the price of the others per serving, so if budget is a big concern, pick one of the others.
MaryRuth is known for making high quality vegan products, and this one’s no different. It’s one of the few that feature the zinc sulfate form, which is least likely to cause side effects due to its high bioavailability and high percentage of zinc.
A few other notable aspects:
- The liquid form is good if you have any difficulty swallowing pills
- It has a relatively small serving size, which is good if you’re getting a decent amount from your diet, but want a little more.
- It’s made in the USA
- No filler ingredients – just zinc
At first glance, 50 mg per serving seems really big. But since it’s in the form of zinc gluconate that comes to 7.15 mg of elemental zinc.
Besides that, here are the strong points of this supplement:
- Pretty cheap per serving
- Only other ingredients are for the tablet itself.
- Made in the USA
- Tested by third party labs for quality
This is an interesting supplement because it’s in liquid form. A couple sprays a day and you’re good to go.
Since there’s 25 mg of zinc gluconate per spray (~3 mg of elemental zinc), it’s really easy to adjust how much you get.
Like the other 2 products here, GIVOL makes their zinc in the United States, and the product is clearly vegan. It’s also quite cheap per serving.