Benefits of zinc picolinate over other types of zinc

Benefits of Zinc Picolinate Over Other Types of Zinc

Zinc is a chemical trace element essential in both the physical and mental well-being of every person. Zinc is actually the second most common mineral in the body which is found in every cell. This essential mineral plays an important role in the biochemical processes of our body, therefore even in small amounts, it is greatly beneficial for human health, specifically in many bodily functions for proper growth and development. Even though it is needed in only small amounts, a deficiency from zinc can cause a number of symptoms and diseases.  This mineral has even been used during the ancient times to aid in wound healing. Aside from this, zinc is also essential for protein production, cell division and DNA synthesis. Benefits of zinc never ends there because is also plays an important role in growth and development, proper neurologic functions, boosting the immune response, in reproduction through hormone production and function, and many others. Zinc also has an antioxidant property which helps protect the body from the harsh effects of free radicals. Free radicals can cause a number of health problems like cancer and heart conditions, and also plays a role in the aging process.

Zinc is perhaps one of the important mineral that people do not get enough of from daily consumption. Zinc deficiency then occurs when there is not enough zinc in the body. Zinc deficiency presents itself with symptoms like loss of appetite, weight loss, lacking in or altered sense of taste and smell, poor healing of wounds, hair loss, growth retardation, a number of skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, night blindness, infertility, depression and the list goes on. The recommended dietary allowance of zinc in adults is about 8 to 11 mg [1]. It is normal to have a slightly lowered level of zinc in the body but there are ways to get the right amount of zinc the body needs; ways like consuming foods rich in zinc and taking zinc supplements. Zinc is actually a mineral that is also found in a number of food sources. Oysters are the best food source of zinc; it has the richest zinc content among the rest of the food sources. Other great food sources of zinc include other seafood such as lobsters and crabs; red meat of lamb, chicken and beef have significant zinc contents as well; dairy products, nuts, seeds and whole grains are also good sources of zinc. However, the bioavailability of zinc from some grains and some other plant food sources is lower than animal sources because of the phytates it contains [2]; phytates bind to zinc thereby inhibiting its absorption [2][3][4].

Aside from food sources, zinc dietary supplements may also be taken to get the right amount of zinc or to even treat zinc deficiency. Zinc comes in many different forms of supplement and the zinc content will vary depending on its form. Zinc as dietary supplements is available as zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc citrate and zinc acetate. Zinc picolinate is one of the preferred zinc supplements due to its benefits. Zinc picolinate is actually a form of zinc that is chelated with picolinic amino acids. It is preferred for it contains higher amounts of the elemental zinc compared to others. It is also believed to be the most absorbable form of zinc. One study suggests that the absorption of zinc in humans may be improved when complexing zinc with picolinic acid [5]. In this study, group of individuals were given with zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc gluconate equivalent to 50mg of elemental zinc per day and placebo. And after four weeks treatment, zinc levels have significantly increased in the hair, urine and erythrocyte during the zinc picolinate treatment. In another study, picolinic acid has been reported to be the low-molecular-weight zinc-binding ligand in human milk [6]. The researchers proposed that the release of picolinic acid binds to elemental zinc which facilitates absorption. After a series of studies, researchers have concluded that there is strong evidence of endogenous picolinic acid being essential in the absorption of zinc [7].

However, it is important to note that having too much zinc may pose health problems as well. Also, zinc supplements may interact with other medications therefore seeking the advice from health professionals is recommended prior to taking any zinc dietary supplements to prevent any untoward effects.


  1. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.
  2. Sandstrom B. Bioavailability of zinc. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997;51 (1 Suppl):S17-9. 
  3. Wise A. Phytate and zinc bioavailability. Int J Food Sci Nutr 1995;46:53-63.
  4. Barrie SA, Wright JV, Pizzorno JE, Kutter E. Comparative absorption of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate in humans. Agents and  Actions 1987 Jun;21(1-2):223-228.
  5. Evans GW, Johnson PE. Characterization and quantitation of a zinc-binding ligand in human milk. Pediatr Res 1980;14:876-880
  6. Evans GW. Normal and abnormal zinc absorption in man and animals: The tryptophan connection. Nutr Rev 1980;38:137-141.

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