Zinc is an essential mineral that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Zinc is also found in many cold lozenges and some over-the-counter drugs sold as cold remedies.
Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell. A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc
|0–6 months||2 mg*||2 mg*|
|7–12 months||3 mg||3 mg|
|1–3 years||3 mg||3 mg|
|4–8 years||5 mg||5 mg|
|9–13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14–18 years||11 mg||9 mg||12 mg||13 mg|
|19+ years||11 mg||8 mg||11 mg||12 mg|
* Adequate Intake (AI)
Food Sources of Zinc
A wide variety of foods contain zinc. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other good food sources include beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products .
Phytates—which are present in whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes, and other foods—bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Thus, the bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal foods, although many grain- and plant-based foods are still good sources of zinc.
Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Zinc
|Oysters, cooked, breaded and fried, 3 ounces||74.0||673|
|Beef chuck roast, braised, 3 ounces||7.0||64|
|Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 3 ounces||6.5||59|
|Beef patty, broiled, 3 ounces||5.3||48|
|Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces||3.4||31|
|Pork chop, loin, cooked, 3 ounces||2.9||26|
|Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, ½ cup||2.9||26|
|Breakfast cereal, fortified with 25% of the DV for zinc, 1 serving||2.8||25|
|Chicken, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces||2.4||22|
|Pumpkin seeds, dried, 1 ounce||2.2||20|
|Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces||1.7||15|
|Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce||1.6||15|
|Chickpeas, cooked, ½ cup||1.3||12|
|Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce||1.2||11|
|Oatmeal, instant, plain, prepared with water, 1 packet||1.1||10|
|Milk, low-fat or non fat, 1 cup||1.0||9|
|Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce||0.9||8|
|Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup||0.9||8|
|Chicken breast, roasted, skin removed, ½ breast||0.9||8|
|Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella, 1 ounce||0.9||8|
|Peas, green, frozen, cooked, ½ cup||0.5||5|
|Flounder or sole, cooked, 3 ounces||0.3||3|
* DV = Daily Value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of foods and dietary supplements within the context of a total diet. The DV for zinc on the new Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels and used for the values in Table 2 is 11 mg for adults and children aged 4 years and older.
FDA required manufacturers to use these new labels starting in January 2020, but companies with annual sales of less than $10 million may continue to use the old labels that list a zinc DV of 15 mg until January 2021. FDA does not require food labels to list zinc content unless zinc has been added to the food. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.
Zinc deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function.
In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions. Weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy can also occur. Many of these symptoms are non-specific and often associated with other health conditions; therefore, a medical examination is necessary to ascertain whether a zinc deficiency is present.
Zinc nutritional status is difficult to measure adequately using laboratory tests due to its distribution throughout the body as a component of various proteins and nucleic acids. Plasma or serum zinc levels are the most commonly used indices for evaluating zinc deficiency, but these levels do not necessarily reflect cellular zinc status due to tight homeostatic control mechanisms.
Clinical effects of zinc deficiency can be present in the absence of abnormal laboratory indices. Clinicians consider risk factors (such as inadequate caloric intake, alcoholism, and digestive diseases) and symptoms of zinc deficiency (such as impaired growth in infants and children) when determining the need for zinc supplementation.
which foods are high in zinc?
three ounces of cooked crab meat contains up to 7 milligrams of zinc, about 88 percent of what women need in a day. While the exact amount of zinc you’ll get varies from species to species, all crabs are great sources of the mineral. Per 3-ounce serving of Alaskan King crab: 82 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 911 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 15 g protein
2. Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup: 6.6 milligrams (44 percent DV)
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are shown to be a key food for maintaining health in post-menopausal women. Pumpkin seeds are also good for prostate health, and they promote your mental health.
3. Hemp Seeds
1 ounce: 5 milligrams (34 percent DV)
Not only are hemp seeds rich in zinc, but they are an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have beneficial effects on your cardiovascular system and helps to keep inflammation at bay.
4. Grass-Fed Beef
100 grams: 4.5 milligrams (30 percent DV)
Grass-fed beef nutrition includes omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to helps reduce the risk of heart disease, improve blood sugar, discourage weight gain and build muscle.
5. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 cup: 2.5 milligrams (17 percent DV)
Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a form of complex carbohydrates that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy. Studies show that chickpeas increase satiety and help with weight loss. They also improve digestion by quickly moving foods through the digestive tract.
1 cup: 2.5 milligrams (17 percent DV)
Lentils are known for their health-promoting effects, as they are rich in polyphenols and micronutrients, including zinc. Lentils serve as a plant-based protein, making them an excellent zinc rich food for vegetarians.
7. Cocoa Powder
1 ounce: 1.9 milligrams (13 percent DV)
Cocoa powder is a good source of two flavonoids, epicatechin and catechin, which function as antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and disease. Because of the presence of flavonoids in cocoa powder, it helps improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, too.
1 ounce: 1.6 milligrams (11 percent DV)
Cashews are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and high in protein. Cashews nutrition helps fight heart disease, reduce inflammation, promote bone health and support healthy brain function. These nuts help with weight loss or maintenance because they make you feel fuller and curb food cravings. Plus, cashews have a good zinc to copper ratio, to help ensure that both of these minerals stay in balance.
9. Kefir or Yogurt
1 cup: 1.4 milligrams (10 percent DV) (values vary)
Kefir and yogurt are cultured dairy products that serve as probiotic foods. Both kefir and probiotic yogurt support healthy digestion, boost the immune system, promote cardiovascular health and regulate your mood.
10. Ricotta Cheese
½ cup: 1.4 milligrams (10 percent DV)
Ricotta cheese is one of the healthiest cheese options because it contains notable amounts of healthy fatty acids and micronutrients, including zinc. Compared to many other cheeses, ricotta is also lower in sodium and saturated fat, and its considered a “fresh cheese” because it’s not aged.
1 cup: 1.4 milligrams (9 percent DV)
Proven mushroom nutrition benefits include the ability to boost immunity due to its antioxidant activities and reduce inflammation.
1 cup: 1.4 milligrams (9 percent DV)
Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. It contains special protective carotenoids that have been linked with decreasing the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and even more.
1 avocado: 1.3 milligrams: (8 percent DV)
If you’re looking for fruits that contain zinc, reach for an avocado. It’s known as one of the healthiest foods on the planet because its packed with essential nutrients. And research shows that avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake.
100 grams: 1 milligram (7 percent DV)
In addition to the zinc present in chicken, it’s also a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. The vitamin B12 in chicken helps maintain energy levels, boost mood, maintain heart health and boost skin health.
1 ounce: 0.9 milligram (6 percent DV)
Wondering which nuts are high in zinc? Almonds nutrition is truly remarkable and many studies show that it benefits many aspects of health, including cardiovascular health and weight control. In addition to its zinc content, almonds also provide vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and riboflavin, among other important micronutrients.
16. Lean Beef
Opt for 95 percent lean ground beef or lean cuts (like sirloin) with the fat trimmed, and you’ll score 5.7 milligrams of zinc per four-ounce serving. (That’s a little over 70 percent of the recommended daily value.)
17. Black Beans
Black beans. Toss a cup of cooked black beans on top of that salad and you’ll get 2 milligrams of zinc, or 25 percent of your daily needs. These beans are also high in iron, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium, which support overall health and are especially important for bone health.
2.95 milligrams of zinc -If you love a warm bowl of oats in the morning, good news. Your daily serving of oats gets you nearly three milligrams of zinc, which clocks in at almost 40 percent of your daily value of zinc.
19. Kidney beans
One 100-gram serving of kidney beans is a great source of fiber and protein. It’s also a good source of zinc. Kidney beans taste great in soups, stews, or even the classic dish, red beans and rice.
Do NOT Take ZINC too much – Health Risks from Excessive Zinc
Zinc toxicity can occur in both acute and chronic forms. Acute adverse effects of high zinc intake include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches.
One case report cited severe nausea and vomiting within 30 minutes of ingesting 4 g of zinc gluconate (570 mg elemental zinc) . Intakes of 150–450 mg of zinc per day have been associated with such chronic effects as low copper status, altered iron function, reduced immune function, and reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins.
Reductions in a copper-containing enzyme, a marker of copper status, have been reported with even moderately high zinc intakes of approximately 60 mg/day for up to 10 weeks . The doses of zinc used in the AREDS study (80 mg per day of zinc in the form of zinc oxide for 6.3 years, on average) have been associated with a significant increase in hospitalizations for genitourinary causes, raising the possibility that chronically high intakes of zinc adversely affect some aspects of urinary physiology .
The FNB has established ULs for zinc (Table 3). Long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects. The ULs do not apply to individuals receiving zinc for medical treatment, but such individuals should be under the care of a physician who monitors them for adverse health effects.
Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Zinc
|0–6 months||4 mg||4 mg|
|7–12 months||5 mg||5 mg|
|1–3 years||7 mg||7 mg|
|4–8 years||12 mg||12 mg|
|9–13 years||23 mg||23 mg|
|14–18 years||34 mg||34 mg||34 mg||34 mg|
|19+ years||40 mg||40 mg||40 mg||40 mg|
Which USANA Products contain Zinc ?