Zinc – Vegan Supplements
If you decide that you need a zinc supplement to ensure sufficiency in your diet then there are hundreds (if not thousands) of pills and potions out there to tempt you. How do you tell the difference between them all? Well, there are a few basic guidelines to maximise your value for money including the form and presence of co-factors or inhibitors in the pills.
Some people, when first turning vegan, may need a little boost of highly absorbably zinc to act as an insurance dose while their body catches up and upregulates their absorption of the mineral from plant sources. In general, plant sources of zinc are less bioavailable than from animal sources, although vegans develop compensatory mechanisms over time to boost absorption.
Readily-Absorbed Forms of Zinc for Vegans
When looking for a supplement try to avoid zinc oxide or zinc carbonate as these are poorly absorbed forms. Zinc sulphate is a little better absorbed, but your best options are usually the chelated zinc supplements. Chelation is basically a term meaning that the mineral is bound to something else (like amino acids) which increase its bioavailability, or usefulness, in the body. By increasing the activity and absorption of the supplement you can take less of it, thereby reducing the potential for toxicity from zinc overload (and usually saving you from having to take numerous tablets or fork out a lot of money).
Improving Zinc Absorption for Vegans
It’s usually a bad idea to take zinc at the same time as supplements containing iron, calcium, magnesium, or copper, as these all compete for the same carrier molecule to get the minerals into the system. Chelated supplements may avoid some of this problem, but if your tablets are not chelated then try not to take them at the same time as your vegan multivitamin or other mineral-containing pills. It’s generally a good idea to take pills (with some exceptions) with food to increase absorption and prevent stomach upsets. There are, as discussed elsewhere, things that inhibit zinc absorption, such as phytates, so meals containing these are not the best candidates for taking your zinc supplement alongside.
Balancing Zinc and Copper
Zinc gluconate is also a fairly good form to supplement with, but it can be a little pricier. If you plan on taking zinc longer term then consider a copper supplement too to ensure you don’t cause an imbalance in these antagonistic minerals. As a large number of supplements come in very high doses, such as 50mg it is usually ok to split these in half and just take the smaller dose. Remember that more is not always best and that high levels of zinc can be damaging too.
Who Manufactures Vegan Zinc Supplements?
Solgar is a great company to get vegan vitamins and minerals from as they usually use excellent forms of nutrients that are highly bioavailable and free of bulking agents and fillers like cheap supermarket vitamins. Natural Factors (try the Zinc Citrate 15MG – 90 TABS) are also a reliable source for vegan-friendly minerals (and they’re Canadian to-boot!). Or, if you’re in the US, try VegLife Zinc Lozenges.
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