Zinc is a trace mineral that plays a crucial role in many processes within the body. It is needed for the proper functioning of more than 300 enzymes (1) and is necessary for the synthesis of DNA. It plays an important role in immune function and wound healing (2) and is needed for protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and skin health (3). Zinc is essential for growth and development, especially in children, and is vital during pregnancy and other times of rapid growth (2). Additionally, it helps in maintaining your senses of taste and smell (4).
The best food sources of zinc include oysters, beef, liver and other organ meats, crab, lamb chops, nuts and seeds and whole grains (4). However, the bioavailability of zinc from plant sources is lower than that of animal products because phytates interfere with zinc absorption (2). Only 20-40% of zinc ingested through food is absorbed by the body and as its more readily absorbed from animal sources (5), we recommend Epigenetics zinc to be taken with a high protein meal. Once consumed, zinc is absorbed in the whole of the small intestine (6) and is stored in skeletal muscle and bone (2).
In the UK, the recommended nutrient intake (RNI) for Zinc is 9.5 mg/day for men and 7mg/day for women. While the levels vary depending on age, the British Nutrition Foundation suggestions can be found in table 1 (7).
Table 1. Recommended Nutrient Intakes for Zinc (7)
||+6mg/d at 0-4 months
+2.5mg/d at 4+ months
*The RNI during pregnancy may vary, please consult your healthcare practitioner
Zinc deficiency has been linked to numerous health problems including diarrhoea and growth retardation in infants, increased susceptibility to infection, lowered immune function, impaired wound healing, reduced taste acuity, impotence in males, and delayed cognitive development in children (2,8,9,10). Initial symptoms of deficiency include loss of taste or smell, depression, decreased immunity and hair loss (4). Those most at risk of deficiency include pregnant/lactating women, vegans and vegetarians and people with GI disorders such as colitis or Chron’s disease (2). It is therefore important to ensure these individuals have sufficient zinc intake and monitor zinc levels.
Excess zinc may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, and abdominal pain (4).
If pregnant or breast-feeding, please consult your health care practitioner before using this product. Zinc may interact with certain medications such as Antibiotics, Penicillamine and Diuretics as it may decrease absorption rates so if on medication, consult your doctor before use (2).
Epigenetics Zinc Picolinate is produced in a convenient, vegan friendly capsule. Recommended daily dose is 1 serving per day taken with a meal, or as directed by a healthcare practitioner. This product is not intended to be used as an alternative to a varied diet.
||Amount per serving
|Zinc (from Zinc picolinate)
* Percent Daily Reference Intakes (RI) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
INGREDIENTS: Zinc picolinate, Vegetable capsule (Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose).
Suitable for vegans
Zinc is one of the most important trace minerals that play a crucial role in many bodily processes. It is involved in and binds to more than 300 enzymes and over 2000 transcriptional factors (1) of which help aid nerve function, digestion, immunity, and DNA synthesis (9).
Enzymes that use Zinc include:
- Carbonic anhydrase – catalyses the conversion of CO2 + H2O = HCO3 + H+
- Carboxypeptidase A – produced in the acinar cells of the pancreas. It catalyses the hydrolysis of specific aromatic amino acids.
- Alcohol dehydrogenase is a liver enzyme that catalyses the conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde. It contains 4 atoms of zinc per molecule.
- Retinol dehydrogenase is present in the retina and catalyses the conversion of retinol to retinal.
- Lactic acid dehydrogenase catalyses the conversion of lactate to pyruvate and requires NAD.
- Malate dehydrogenase catalyses the conversion of oxaloacetate + NADH + H+ = malate + NAD
- DNA polymerase is found in all cells and is involved with the initiation of DNA synthesis.
- Superoxide dismutase (SOD Zn/Cu) contains a single atom of zinc and copper. It catalyses the conversion of superoxide to hydrogen peroxide.
As zinc plays an important role in immune health, inadequate intakes even at mild levels, may increase the body’s vulnerability to viruses and bacteria as it slows down the activity of lymphocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages (4). Research suggests that the severity and duration of the common cold can be reduced with zinc as it prevents rhinovirus binding and replication in the nasal cavity (2). Evidence from previous meta-analyses have found that zinc lozenges may reduce the length of colds. 70% of patients struggling with colds fully recovered after 5 days of taking zinc compared to 27% with the placebo (11). Likewise, another study found that increasing zinc intake by just 4mg/d can significantly boost the health of your cells, making it easier for your body to fend off infections and other illnesses (12). This highlights the importance of zinc in immunity and zinc supplementation in fighting infections.
Due to the role zinc plays in collagen synthesis, inflammation, and immune function, it can be used to accelerate wound healing (9). It is therefore most beneficial to not only those with a deficiency but in people who have severe wounds such as decubitus ulcers or extensive burns (4). In fact, it is commonly used in hospitals to treat these conditions (13). Research suggests that zinc is needed for every stage of wound healing from skin repair to preventing infections (13) and a further study concluded that three months of supplementation with 25 mg to 50 mg daily of zinc has been shown, in zinc-deficient individuals, to be beneficial in wound healing (14). Zinc can therefore have a positive effect on skin health and may also be used to treat acne (9).
Age Related Diseases
According to the National Institute of Health, zinc has been found to protect the retina from damage and may delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is proposed that zinc and antioxidant supplementation may slow down the onset of AMD and vision loss (2). Further research indicates that zinc deficiency, particularly in the elderly, has been linked to AMD and there are promising results supporting the link between zinc supplementation and slower AMD progression (15). We recommend individuals suffering from or are developing AMD to talk to their healthcare practitioner about zinc levels and potential supplementation.
Diarrhoea is a common problem in children around the world, and it has been reported that zinc supplementation may be an effective method in treating the issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend supplements of 20 mg/d of zinc for 10-14 days for children under 5 years, or supplements of 10 mg/day for infants under 6 months with acute diarrhoea (16). Likewise, additional studies have concluded that zinc supplements may be helpful in decreasing the duration of diarrhoea and improving stool consistency in children (17).
Zinc and COVID-19
Recent research suggests that zinc supplementation may play a role in reducing the risk of developing symptomatic COVID and could be effective in reducing severity of the virus (18). Furthermore, a meta-analysis looking at COVID-19 and zinc supplementation found a significant difference in mortality with those taking zinc supplements compared to the control group (19). This suggests that not only does zinc have potential antiviral properties and be considered in helping to treat viruses such as COVID-19 but it could also be a very effective method in preventing COVID-19 mortality rates.
Groups at risk of zinc deficiency:
Vegetarians and Vegans- Zinc can be found in a lot of animal products such as meat and seafood. As these foods are not part of a vegetarians or vegan diet, these individuals rely on plant-based sources alone. However, in these plant sources are phytates which inhibit zinc absorption thereby reducing bioavailability (2). We recommend soaking these grains and seeds in water for a couple of hours before cooking as it may lower the amount of phytates present. Supplementation may also be required.
Pregnant/Lactating women-During pregnancy there is an increased demand for zinc to ensure foetal growth. Studies also suggest that there are low amounts of zinc present in human breast milk (4). An increased intake in zinc rich foods or supplementation during these times is recommended. Increased requirements vary depending on current zinc levels so please contact your healthcare provider for specific recommendations.
People with gastrointestinal disorders-Individuals with conditions such as Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis have a decreased absorption rate of zinc due to lower dietary intakes, increased urination, or low absorption because of inflammation (2). Those with GI disorders need to ensure zinc levels are monitored to prevent deficiency.
Other groups that may be susceptible to zinc deficiency include children with sickle cell disease due to chelation therapy, alcoholics because of decreased absorption rates and increased loss of zinc through urine, and older infants who only rely on breastmilk (2).
Bryce-Smith and Simpson zinc taste test
The zinc sulphate taste test is used to determine zinc deficiency. It was first recorded in a 13-year-old female who was unable to taste 0.1% solution of zinc sulphate while her family could taste it. Once the girl supplemented with zinc sulphate and her weight increased, she could taste the solution. When she stopped supplementation, her weight decreased, and she was unable to taste the solution again. Bryce-Smith and Simpson were the first to suggest a method of assessing zinc sulphate taste acuity. They propose using 5-10ml of a 0.1% zinc sulphate solution administered orally. The individual is graded on a scale of 1-4 where score 1 is “no specific taste or other sensation is noticed, even after the solution has been kept in the mouth for about 10 seconds”; 2 when “no immediate taste is noted, but after a few seconds a slight taste variously described as ‘dry,’ ‘mineral,’ ‘furry,’ or (more rarely) ‘sweet’ develops”; 3 when “a definite though not strongly unpleasant taste is noted almost immediately, and tends to intensify with time”; and 4 when “a strong and unpleasant taste is noted immediately (20). If no taste is detected it indicates deficiency.
Drug interactions- Quinolone antibiotics and tetracycline antibiotics may lower absorption of both zinc and the antibiotic if taken at the same time. Penicillamine can interact with zinc if taken together and Thiazide diuretics might increase urination thereby decreasing zinc absorption (2).
Packaging: 60 capsules
Recommended daily dose, 1 serving taken with a meal.
Serving size: 1 capsule, Servings per container: 60
Store in a cool dry place out of reach and sight of children. Once opened, consume within 6 months.