Zinc citrate

What does it do?

Zinc citrate is a multifunctional ingredient. It can be used as a dietary supplement and zinc is an important nutrient necessary for protein synthesis, wound healing, and normal tissue function just to name a few of its benefits.

In toothpaste, the primary role that Tom’s of Maine’s has found zinc citrate to provide is that it can help freshen breath by reducing the impact of odorous compounds produced in our mouth by bacteria. Some bacteria in our mouth produce volatile sulfur compunds (VSCs) which leave us with a state we generally refer to as ‘bad breath’. Zinc is able to react with these VSCs to reduce the odorous components to provide breath freshening.

In deodorant products zinc citrate works by inhibiting the growth of odor causing bacteria; unpleasant odor is caused by skin bacteria when we sweat. Zinc works by interfering with bacterial sugar and peptide metabolism which impairs bacterial function and therefore prevents odor.

What are the alternatives?

In oral care products, alternatives to zinc citrate in the fight against bad breath include antimicrobial agents, like chlorhexidene or cetylpyridium chloride, or other agents that inhibit the odor-causing compounds like terpenes (found in spearmint oil) and ionine (found in tomato juice). Recent research from Tom’s of Maine has also confirmed the botanical, licorice root, is effective at reducing VSC’s in lab tests and this efficacy was confirmed in human subjects. Tom’s of Maine uses licorice root in its Wicked Fresh toothpaste to deliver clinically proven long lasting fresh breath.

In deodorant products, triclosan would also work, but it is not a natural product.

What are the risks?

Zinc citrate is considered a safe and appropriate ingredient with a history of use as a dietary supplement. Although there are no known health risks related to using products that contain zinc citrate, some users of the oral care products may experience a metallic aftertaste.

Tom’s of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with pure and natural ingredients, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual body chemistry.

What is it?

Zinc citrate is a zinc salt. It is made when citric acid (derived from corn) is combined with the zinc source (zinc oxide) and a precipitate is formed which is purified and dried.

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Expert Herbal Information

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Visit the American Botanical Council for the latest research on our herbal ingredients. Read the expert research