How to Absorb Zinc Better

Porterhouse steak on a plate
The bioavailability of zinc in meat is higher than that found in plants. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Zinc, a trace element naturally found in foods such as nuts and beef, helps with numerous health functions, including immune system maintenance and wound healing. Whether you're getting all of your zinc through dietary sources or are taking a zinc-enhanced supplement, ensure optimal zinc absorption by knowing how this mineral interacts with other substances.

Step 1

Salmon with Asparagus
Grilled salmon (Image: Tiramisu Art Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

Eat eggs, meat and seafood. The zinc in such foods is more bioavailable, meaning your body can more readily absorb and use it due to animal proteins improving zinc absorption. In contrast, zinc-rich vegetarian foods, such as whole grains, are high in phytates, which reduce zinc absorption.

Step 2

A Caucasian female hand holding a vitamin next to a glass of water
Take your zinc supplement with a meal or snack (Image: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Take your zinc supplement with a meal or snack if you're getting the majority of your zinc through supplements instead of whole foods. Taking trace elements, such as zinc and iron, with food increases your body's ability to absorb and use them.

Step 3

Side view of woman with glass of milk
Avoid calcium rich foods like milk (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Avoid calcium-rich foods and supplements when taking zinc or eating zinc-rich foods. Calcium supplements taken in conjunction with zinc inhibits zinc absorption. Meanwhile, a study in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that consuming milk and similar high-calcium dairy products similarly reduced zinc absorption rates.

Step 4

Doctor and Patient Discussing Medication
Consult your doctor (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Review your medications with your doctor. Diuretic medications based on thiazide boost zinc loss through your urine by up to 60 percent. Meanwhile, various common antibiotics, such as tetracycline, also inhibit zinc absorption.

Things You'll Need

  • Animal-protein-based food

  • Zinc supplement

Tip

Not all zinc supplements are made alike. When it comes to absorption rates, zinc picolinate might be the best.

Warning

Stay away from supplements made from zinc sulfate. While they're generally the cheapest, zinc sulfate is the least readily absorbed form of supplemental zinc and is also much more likely to cause gastrointestinal distress.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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