The different zinc salts explained according to their bioavailability

The different zinc salts explained according to their bioavailability

Out of all of the zinc salts, which one has the most bioavailability?

What are zinc salts?

Zinc salts are complexes which are formed by the mineral of origin (zinc) plus an acid, which results in the electrical stabilising and boosted organism availability.

Gluconate vs zinc sulphate

Zinc gluconate and zinc sulphate. Surrounded by elemental zinc.

Is any one salt superior compared to others?

The use of salts depends on their physiochemical characteristics which drastically change the pharmokinetics of the zinc consumed, which means that there are salts that are:

  • More bioavailable in general and/or determined conditions.
  • A higher zinc content per unit.

These factors shouldn’t be confused with the recognition of the properties of different salts, due to the fact that this is based on effects shown as a result of their zinc content, regardless of the bound molecule.


All mineral salts behave in the same way, but not to the same degree and this is where the difference lies.

How can I choose the best mineral salt for me?

In previous articles, such as calcium salts or magnesium salts , we’ve given you specific recommendations for the use of one mineral form compared to another, bearing in mind the individual case and needs that each one of you has.

Zinc Bisglycinate

Zinc Bisglicynate by EssentialSeries.

Even so, it’s impossible to give a clear recommendation, considering that all of the zinc types sold by HSN have the advantage of maximum bioavailability and all of them are standardised at a set, uniform concentration of elemental zinc. Let me explain this in a bit more detail:

Both our zinc gluconate and zinc bisglycinate (chelated zinc) have the same amount of zinc per capsule: 25mg.

If we take a closer look at powdered zinc products, in this case it is important to distinguish between them and examine which contains more zinc, due to the vastly different quantities of the mineral that could be provided by one serving depending on the product in question.

If we look at zinc gluconate the elemental content is 14%, whereas in the case of bisglycinate the figure comes in at 30%.

Bisglycinate is a superior product, if we take into account that in 100mg of salt, 30mg of zinc are found, while in the case of gluconate salt this comes in at just 14mg.

You can rest assured that due to the nature of the zinc we offer here at HSN, which comes in capsule or tablet form and contains the same measured quantity of elemental zinc, the zinc:salt ratio is irrelevant.


Does that mean that they are all the same?

Yes, if taken tablets or capsules with, and please bear this in mind, a standardised zinc content, then they can be assured to be the same.


Fractional absorption rate in 3 different zinc salts (citrate, gluconate and oxide).

It would seem that zinc oxide is slightly less bioavailable than its counterparts such as gluconate, bisglycinate , citrate, orotate or sulphate; that have all shown to have excellent availability.

Another significant difference that impacts choice of zinc or other salts is most definitely flavour.

But it important to remember that this doesn’t apply to a product used in capsules like HSN’s product, as the salt element is tasteless, due to a coating agent used which impedes contact between the mineral salts and your taste buds.

Zinc citrateA slightly bitter edge
Zinc gluconateBitter, astringent (vinegary)
Zinc oxideBitter
Zinc sulphateAstringent bitter and metallic

Zinc Citrate

Zinc Citrate by EssentialSeries.

Are zinc supplements good for you?


As a matter of fact, the zinc used in supplements seems to have proven to have superior absorption rates compared with zinc content found in food (~60% vs ~30%) (Hambidge et al., 2010).
We don’t know exactly why this is, due to the degree of zinc absorption in supplements continually showing itself to be higher, even when we try to control the active anti-nutrients (phytates) that generally negatively condition zinc absorption, leading us to the conclusion that:

  • There are either more zinc absorption inhibitors found in foods that we don’t yet fully know about
  • or supplements, with their high concentration of zinc, saturate the intestinal cell transport and the element manages to absorb using alternative mechanisms (we already know that these can be absorbed through passive diffusion)
Taking this into account, we must remember that zinc supplements should be taken on an empty stomach, and at least 4 hours before eating a meal rich in cereals and/or vegetables in order to avoid the bonding of phytic acid in the intestine, which could negatively affect its absorption.

An important note about Zinc

Zinc is a highly recommended option for those following low zinc content diets and/or diets high in mineral inhibitors.

Generally Speaking, the majority of people who find themselves with low zinc levels are vegans.

Zinc gluconate

Zinc Gluconate by EssentialSeries.

Bear in mind that increased zinc concentrations in the bloodstream induce the triggering of a series of metalloproteins that start to chelate the copper found in your blood, causing it to move out of our tissues, potentially putting as at risk of becoming deficient in this trace metal. (Cousins, 1983).


Zinc bisglycinate label by EssentialSeries.

That’s why zinc bisglycinate by EssentialSeries contains 1mg of elemental copper in its formula, helping to prevent this deficiency

It’s important to highlight that these copper scavenger induction effects have only been observed in disproportionate doses of zinc, which could occur when taking 600mg daily, which is equivalent to 12000% of the recommended daily amount of zinc (Willis et al., 2005).


  1. Andermann, G., & Dietz, M. (1982). The bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of three zinc salts: Zinc pantothenate, zinc sulfate and zinc orotate. European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, 7(3), 233–239.
  2. Cousins, R. J. (1983). Metallothionein – Aspects related to copper and zinc metabolism. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease, 6(1 Supplement), 15–21.
  3. Hambidge, K. M., Miller, L. V., Westcott, J. E., Sheng, X., & Krebs, N. F. (2010). Zinc bioavailability and homeostasis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(5), 1478S-1483S.
  4. Lönnerdal, B. (2000). Dietary Factors Influencing Zinc Absorption. The Journal of Nutrition, 130(5), 1378S-1383S.
  5. Roohani, N., Hurrell, R., Kelishadi, R., & Schulin, R. (2013). Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 18(2), 144–157.
  6. Wegmüller, R., Tay, F., Zeder, C., Brnić, M., & Hurrell, R. F. (2014). Zinc Absorption by Young Adults from Supplemental Zinc Citrate Is Comparable with That from Zinc Gluconate and Higher than from Zinc Oxide. The Journal of Nutrition, 144(2), 132–136.
  7. Willis, M. S., Monaghan, S. A., Miller, M. L., McKenna, R. W., Perkins, W. D., Levinson, B. S., … Kroft, S. H. (2005). Zinc-induced copper deficiency: A report of three cases initially recognized on bone marrow examination. American Journal of Clinical Pathology, 123(1), 125–131.
Valuation of Zinc Salts

Types - 100%

Benefits - 100%

Cons - 100%

Bioavailability - 100%


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About Alfredo Valdés
Alfredo Valdés
He is a specialist in metabolic physiopathology training and in the biomolecular effects of food and physical exercise.
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