Zinc is an essential nutrient for humans and contributes to immune defence by bolstering the function of both the innate and adaptive immune system. It’s also a powerful antioxidant and is recognised as an essential trace metal required for human health. 

The clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency include immune dysfunctions, increased oxidative stress and increased generation of inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, deficiencies in zinc result in impaired immunity and a higher vulnerability to infection.

Zinc is an essential metal required by approximately 2800 macromolecules and more than 300 enzymes to build their proper structure and develop their function.[1] Numerous trials of zinc supplements and topical delivery have been shown to provide beneficial impacts on health and the amelioration of pathological conditions, with an adequate supply of zinc being associated in slowing the ageing process, leading to improved cognitive functions, immune functions, stress response, and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. 

All body tissues contain zinc, and in skin, it is five to six times more concentrated in the epidermis than the dermis[2]. Skin is in a continual state of renewal, placing a high demand on zinc‐based enzymes and proteins that are involved in this process. The importance of zinc physiologically is especially evident in studies of wound healing and inflammation reduction[3]. We often forget that our skin is the largest organ system in the human body and serves as the first line of defence against illness and injury. Deficiencies in zinc inevitably lead to reduced capacity for protection and healing and are associated with slower recovery periods.

As zinc cannot be endogenously synthesised by humans, it requires an external source (diet or supplementation) to be obtained.  It is for this reason that supplementation may serve to be a more reliable source of zinc than diet alone. Population studies have indicated that zinc deficiency is relatively common in western populations, even with access to necessary dietary sources, affecting almost 15% of the world’s population. This is postulated to be the result of poor dietary/lifestyle habits as well as inadequate supplementation in the face of oxidative stress, which can be induced by physical and psychological stress. 

Zinc can be administered in many forms including zinc citrate, zinc gluconate, zinc oxide and chelated zinc, which each have advantages and disadvantages. 

So, why is choosing a supplement with the right type of zinc important? Well, a quality zinc supplement isn’t one that is particularly more expensive, but rather, one that is formulated with highly bioavailable forms of zinc. 

This was affirmed in a study that aimed to evaluate zinc absorption via fractional absorption and urine analysis, where they found a statistically significant difference in zinc absorption depending on the type of zinc compound used as a supplement. The study deduced that there was a significantly higher absorption of zinc from zinc citrate and zinc gluconate when compared to others such as those that contained zinc oxide.[4] In fact, results indicate that zinc oxide, the cheapest zinc supplementation compound, is significantly less well absorbed than citrate or gluconate to the degree where it possesses almost little to no therapeutic benefit. Other forms of zinc are also available, such as zinc sulphate and zinc acetate, however they induce a strong metallic, bitter, and astringent taste that needs to be masked with no distinct advantages.[5] 

This study, as well as many others, reaffirm the well-known fact that the gold standard for zinc formulations is zinc citrate and zinc gluconate. Zinc citrate provides a highly bioavailable form and concentrated dose of zinc to support optimal endogenous levels for many important processes in the body and is virtually odourless. 

In PILLAR’s Zinc Immune formulation, this highly bioavailable form of Zinc is complemented with the addition of zinc gluconate (another highly bioavailable form of zinc) and chelated zinc, a type of zinc bound to a chelating agent to create a stable, highly water-soluble product that can be easily absorbed by the body. Since it can be difficult for your body to efficiently absorb zinc on its own, zinc can be attached to a chelating agent to enhance the overall amount of bioavailable zinc. In fact, the World Health Organisation specifically recommends the use of the water-soluble zinc compounds (such as the citrate and gluconate) above all other forms of zinc. This is because well absorbable forms of zinc allow you to maximise the amount of zinc taken in by your body, without having to take more tablets.

If there was a competition for a super mineral, then zinc would certainly be a contender! Zinc is an essential micronutrient that is crucial to more than 200 enzymatic reactions and plays a key role in growth, immune function, testosterone metabolism, and numerous other functions in your body. Clinical studies demonstrate zinc supplementation can increase general wellness, immune health, and that it has a beneficial impact on connective tissue, as well as reproductive and eye health. Once you have decided to take the first step in supporting your general wellbeing and considered adding zinc into your routine, you should now be equipped with the knowledge to ensure you are getting quality formulations of zinc, not necessarily with markers such as price or amount of zinc, but rather, quality types of highly bioavailable zinc, such as those in PILLARS Zinc Immune, formulated for maximal absorption.

[1] Lee, S. R. (2018). Critical role of zinc as either an antioxidant or a prooxidant in cellular systems. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2018

[2] Rostan, Elizabeth F., et al. "Evidence supporting zinc as an important antioxidant for skin." International journal of dermatology 41.9 (2002): 606-611.

[3] Ogawa, Y.; Kinoshita, M.; Shimada, S.; Kawamura, T. Zinc and Skin Disorders. Nutrients 2018, 10, 199

[4] 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;144(2):132-136.

[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;144(2):132-136.