Zinc is an essential trace mineral that you need in small amounts for healthy growth and development. It has antioxidant properties and is required for a healthy immune system, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can get zinc by eating certain foods, and it is also available in various supplements, including zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate, which come from different sources.
Zinc picolinate is a form of zinc that has been artificially bonded or combined with picolinic acid. This process makes it easier for your body to absorb zinc from a supplement. Picolination facilitates the passage of this mineral through the walls of the digestive tract and into the blood, where your body can use it.
Zinc gluconate is the zinc salt of gluconic acid. A study published in the September 2006 issue of "Food Technology and Biotechnology" notes that zinc gluconate is more soluble than other zinc salts and easier on the stomach. Supplements with this type of zinc are easier to absorb and used faster by the body. Research in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" concluded that zinc gluconate is the best form to help boost your immune system and reduce symptoms of the common cold.
A study at Bastyr University Research Institute compared the absorption of three different forms of zinc, including zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate. Researchers noted that zinc levels in the blood rose significantly when patients took zinc picolinate supplements, but showed no significant change when other forms of zinc were taken. This may indicate that the best form of zinc to get in a supplement is zinc picolinate.
Consult with your healthcare provider about taking zinc supplements. Zinc and other supplements can cause side effects and interact with other medications. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, common side effects of zinc include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and a metallic taste in the mouth. Furthermore, high doses can cause dizziness, headache, drowsiness, increased sweating, loss of muscle coordination, alcohol intolerance, hallucinations and anemia.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zincrel="nofollow"
- Olympus Microscopy Research Center: Picolinic Acid Time Lapse Sequencerel="nofollow"
- ZincGluconateFacts.com: Zinc Gluconate Factsrel="nofollow"
- Bastyr University Research Institute; The Comparative Absorption of Zinc Picolinate, Zinc Citrate and Zinc Gluconate in Humans; S.A. Barris, et al.; June 1987rel="nofollow"
- "Food Technology and Biotechnology"; Gluconic Acid: Properties, Applications and Microbial Production; Sumitra Ramachandran, et al.; March 2006rel="nofollow"
- IndustrialMetalCastings.com: Zincrel="nofollow"
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images
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