Foods High in Zinc

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani Apr 17, 2019
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Zinc is a crucial mineral for the body, and lack of it is associated with mild to severe health problems. Commonly available foods that contain high percentage of zinc include cereals, beans, dried fruits, seeds and nuts, dairy products, oyster, seafood, and red meat. Read on to know more...
Zinc is an essential micronutrient, responsible for the normal functioning of plants and animals. In the process of metabolism, zinc is required for various enzymatic and biochemical reactions.
It plays a major role in cell growth, cell division, and cell differentiation. It strengthens the immune system and also improves vision, fertility, protein synthesis, and other metabolic activities.

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Zinc

Age: 0-6 months
Male: 2 mg*
Female: 2 mg*
(* Controlled amount)

Age: 7-12 months
Male: 3 mg
Female: 3 mg

Age: 1-3 years
Male: 3 mg
Female: 3 mg

Age: 4-8 years
Male: 5 mg
Female: 5 mg
Age: 9-13 years
Male: 8 mg
Female: 8 mg

Age: 14-18 years
Male: 11 mg
Female: 9 mg
Pregnant: 12 mg
Lactating: 13 mg

Age: 19+ years
Male: 11 mg
Female: 8 mg
Pregnant: 11 mg
Lactating: 12 mg

Zinc Rich Food Items

As our body cannot produce this mineral on its own, the best way to get adequate amount of zinc is to consume a wide variety of foods high in zinc. Healthy individuals who follow a regular balanced diet do not require external zinc supplementation. Let's take a look at the food items that serve as rich sources of zinc.

Oysters and Shellfish

One of the best sources of zinc is oyster; 100 gm of oysters contain about 25 mg of zinc, while 100 gm of shellfish contain about 20 mg of this. As per the studies, six medium-sized oysters included in the diet can fulfill the daily requirement of zinc.

Red Meat

Meat, especially red meat, is a good source of zinc. It is found that 100 gm of red meat contains 5.2 mg of zinc.
Including lean beef shank or other beef cuts in your diet, will provide about 30-60 percent of the daily zinc requirement. However, make sure you trim the fatty bits of the meat, and use less oil for cooking.

Poultry and Eggs

Those who are not fond of having red meat can include poultry alternatives in the diet plan. About 2 mg of zinc is present per 100 gm of chicken pieces.
One medium-sized chicken leg can provide about 15-20 percent according to the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). 100 gm of eggs contain about 1.5 mg zinc.

Pork

Another good source of zinc is pork; 100 gm of lean pork pieces contain about 4-5 mg of zinc, thus providing 25-30 percent of RDA.
But here, the major concern is the high fat content. So, the serving amount and preparation technique of pork should be taken into consideration.

Dairy Products

Vegetarian people should include adequate amounts of dairy products in the diet for deriving zinc mineral. Yogurt is the best dairy source of zinc; consumption of 250 ml yogurt provides 15 percent of the required zinc amount. Milk and cheese also contain high traces of zinc.

Edible Seeds

Another plant-based food packed with zinc mineral is edible seed. The commonly consumed items under this are sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, and watermelon seeds. 0.25 cup/36.00 grams of sesame seeds contain about 2.79 mg of zinc.
Other Foods that contain high percentage of zinc include:
  • Dark chocolate
  • Crimini/Shiitake mushrooms
  • Dried fruits
  • Fresh fruits
  • Chickpeas
  • Wheat germ
  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Canned vegetables
  • Seafood
  • Veal liver
  • Lamb
  • Miso
  • Scallops
  • Swiss chard
  • Oats

What Causes Zinc Deficiency?

Though the importance of zinc in the human body system was known since a long time, zinc deficiency orhypozincemia was revealed only in the 1960s, when Egyptian teenagers suffered from dwarfism and slow sexual maturation. Since then, several studies on zinc supplements have been conducted to improve the health of people with zinc insufficiency.
Zinc deficiency can be attributed to lack of zinc in the diet, loss of zinc during food processing, and certain diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. Agricultural plants, grown in the zinc-deprived soil, contain lower amounts of zinc.
The percentage of hypozincemia is high among low-income populations, especially in people whose staple food consists of cereal-based diets with little or no meat products. In order to prevent zinc deficiency, one should include zinc rich foods in the diet or take zinc supplements.
As you see, most of the protein rich foods contain zinc in high amounts. You can incorporate them in the diet to reap the benefits of both nutrients. While lack of zinc poses several health risks, high zinc intake is also a medical concern. Too much of zinc can lead to fatigue, weak immune system, altered iron metabolism, and copper deficiency. 
Hence, relying on zinc supplements is not recommended for a prolonged period. To be on the safer side, it is always advisable to consult a physician about the daily recommended doses before taking any form of zinc supplements for treatment purposes.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.