Zinc and Nausea – How to Take Zinc Without Causing Upset Stomach

Zinc is an excellent supplement for boosting the immune system and helping improve many areas of overall health.

Unfortunately, one major reported side effect from zinc supplements is nausea and upset stomach.  This is not only uncomfortable, but it causes many people to avoid zinc supplements altogether.

The good news is that it absolutely doesn’t have to be this way.  If you choose the right zinc supplement and take it properly, it won’t make you feel nauseous at all.

There are 4 main reasons why zinc supplements can cause nausea.  They are all easy to address.

  1. Not taking the right form of zinc.
  2. Taking too much 
  3. Not taking with any food
  4. Not having enough water

Let’s quickly address each one.

1. The best form of zinc supplements is non-buffered zinc bisglycinate.

This is not only the best form for avoiding upset stomach, but it also absorbs the best and is the most effective.

Zinc supplements always come in some form other than pure zinc.  Pure zinc is a metal, and you can’t eat it on its own.  When we talk about taking “zinc” supplements, we aren’t just taking “zinc”, we are taking some form of zinc.  Some other supplemental forms of zinc are zinc oxide, zinc citrate, zinc picolinate, zinc orotate, zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, zinc sulphate, and zinc bisglycinate (glycinate).

We have researched all the forms of zinc, and the best form is zinc bisglycinate.

Zinc bisglycinate is one atom of zinc attached to 2 glycine molecules.

When zinc bisglycinate reaches the GI tract, the entire molecule is still intact.  Because the molecule is intact, it doesn’t compete with other minerals for absorption.  This not only helps it to absorb better, but it also helps by causing significantly less irritation (less nausea and upset stomach).  Scientific studies on zinc bisglycinate also demonstrate that it is well-tolerated and causes few side effects.

Check out our high absorption zinc bisglycinate

2. Taking too much zinc.

It is human nature to think that if something is good for you, then more of it must be even better for you.  This is not the case with most supplements, and certainly not the case with zinc.  A little goes a long way. 

First of all, the more zinc you take, the more likely you are to experience side effects like nausea.  This is common sense, and also what people actually experience.

The other issue with zinc is that if you take too much zinc, then that will lower the amount of copper in your body (another essential mineral) to unhealthy levels.  

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists the following daily upper limits (UL) of supplemental zinc.  Here you can find the recommended amounts of zinc for more information.

Daily Upper Limits for oral zinc supplements UL

0–6 months4 mg4 mg
7–12 months5 mg5 mg
1–3 years7 mg7 mg
4–8 years12 mg12 mg
9–13 years23 mg23 mg
14–18 years34 mg34 mg34 mg34 mg
19+ years40 mg40 mg40 mg40 mg

Here is the table for the NIH Recommended Daily Amount of supplemental oral zinc.  


0–6 months2 mg*2 mg*
7–12 months3 mg3 mg
1–3 years3 mg3 mg
4–8 years5 mg5 mg
9–13 years8 mg8 mg
14–18 years11 mg9 mg12 mg13 mg
19+ years11 mg8 mg11 mg12 mg

It is worth pointing out that the NIH, and virtually all governmental bodies, talk about “oral zinc” but never specify or differentiate between the different forms of zinc supplements.  

They do give a decent guideline though, and the idea is that an adult shouldn’t be taking much more than 40 mg of zinc per day, and if they do for a short period of time, they shouldn’t do it daily for an extended period of time.

Our high absorption zinc bisglycinate comes in 25 mg capsules of elemental zinc.  Because it is so well absorbed, a small amount of it has a similar effect to larger amounts of other types of zinc, and without any side effects.

3. Not taking with food.

This is an easy one.  Some people either forget to eat when they take zinc, or they wish to get the most absorption possible.  The problem is that taking zinc on a completely empty stomach can cause nausea and upset stomach more easily.  If you insist on taking it on an empty stomach, then zinc bisglycinate is still the best form to do it with.  It is better to have at least a little food in your stomach, so the zinc doesn’t go straight to the lining.  This helps a lot.

4. Not taking enough water.

This is similar to the food idea.  Taking zinc with a large glass of water is a good idea.  Zinc bisglycinate is soluble in water.  The water helps spread the zinc evenly around the stomach, so there is no concentrated zinc irritating the stomach anywhere.

So even if you are quite sensitive to zinc and find that even small amounts of it cause upset stomach, nausea, or even vomiting, then we believe based on research and experience that you will benefit greatly from these tips.  

Try our premium non buffered zinc bisglycinate

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Andrew Best

Cofounder - Director of R&D

Andrew educates consumers about the latest scientific research in the natural health supplement field.

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