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10 most interesting zinc foods

Foods that contain zinc

A varied diet and with the prominence of fruits and vegetables allows to supply each and every one of the vitamins and elements necessary for the proper functioning of our body. Among them, zinc is considered an essential micronutrient present in many foods.

Because there are continuous cases of zinc deficiency, we wanted to group the main foods with zinc, as well as teach you what can happen when we suffer a lack of this element or, something that also happens, an excess.

In this article we analyze the importance of zinc as an element and the main foods involved to achieve the necessary daily amount.

Role of zinc in the body

Zinc is necessary to cover the functionality of just over 300 enzymes, participating in many essential processes of our body. It is active in metabolizing all nutrients, strengthens our immune system and helps in tissue repair.

Our body does not have the ability to store excess zinc, so we must incorporate it daily according to the recommended daily needs.


Doses are different between men and women, as well as at specific stages, such as pregnancy. Likewise, children also have different recommendations.

Age Man Woman Pregnancy Nursing
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 13 mg 14 mg
+19 years 11 mg 8 mg 11 mg 12 mg

It is mainly children, the elderly and pregnant women who are most at risk of zinc deficiency. However, a balanced and healthy diet, with the incorporation of a wide variety of foods, more than covers the needs we have of this metal.

However, if we need to meet the demand, here we have 10 foods with zinc in large concentrations.

10 Foods with More Zinc to Eat

1. Meat and derivatives

Meat is an excellent way to provide protein, but also microelements such as zinc. It is one of the foods with the highest content, with 4.8 mg of zinc per 100 grams on average. This represents about 44% of recommended daily needs (RDAs)

In turn, it also provides us with a good amount of protein, iron, B vitamins and creatine.

However, you should keep in mind that in recent years there is enough research linking the consumption of high amounts of red meat with heart disease and cancer, according to the WHO.

Therefore, we must limit its consumption and combine it with other healthier foods to complete the needs of zinc.

2. Dark chocolate

Chocolate is an excellent nutrient to provide microelements. One of them of considered importance is zinc. In turn, it contains phytocompounds interesting for health.

The consumption of 100 g provides more than 30% of the daily amount we need, with more than 3 mg. However, you have to look for the highest percentage of chocolate, recommended above 70%.

The biggest drawback of this food is its high calorie content, since those 100 g provide the considerable amount of 600 kcal. Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation.

3. Seafood

Seafood contains a lot of microelements with low caloric content, but zinc is one of the most important. One of the most important are oysters. The consumption of a serving of 6 oysters gives us about 32 mg of Zn, the equivalent of acsi 300% of the RDA.

We also find imported amounts in crab (7.6 mg Zn per 100 grams, 69% RDA), or in mussels (14& CDR Zn per 100 g).

4, Seeds

The seeds contain a lot of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. There is a wide variety of these products that we can introduce into our diet to improve our diet and cover all needs.

Foods with zinc in the form of seeds of mThe high concentration are hemp seeds (30 grams provide more than 30% RDA Zn), sesame and pumpkin seeds.

In addition, they not only provide us with this element, but a large amount of fiber (remember that most of the population only takes 50% of the recommended amount), vitamins, healthy fats and other minerals.

Scientific studies have linked the habitual consumption of this type of seeds with the progressive reduction of hypertension and cholesterol, among other benefits.

  • Sesame: 7.7 mg (100 g)
  • Pine nuts: 6,5 mg (100 g)
  • Soybean: 4.9 mg (100 g)
  • Almonds: 3,1 mg (100 g)
  • Hazelnuts: 3.5 mg (100 g)

5. Nuts

Nuts, as a nut, provide a large amount of minerals, including zinc. In addition, they are full of properties and healthy fatty acids. Consuming 28 grams (the recommended daily serving), we will receive up to 15% of the recommended daily amount.

In addition, its consumption is related, according to scientific studies, to the prevention of a large number of heart diseases, development of various types of cancer and diabetes.

6. Legumes

If we are looking for food from plants, legumes take the cake in terms of zinc, especially beans, lentils or chickpeas.

Among them, lentils provide a very interesting cocktail of microelements, where 100 g gives us about 12% of the recommended daily amount of zinc.

The biggest problem in legumes and minerals is the content of phytocomponents that reduce the absorption rate of metals. Compounds such as phytates they make vegetable zinc worse absorbed than zinc from animals.

However, even so, it is highly recommended to consume vegetables and legumes, for the contribution of proteins without fats, fiber and vitamins. The diet high in vegetables is linked to a lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

7. Dairy

Dairy has always been linked to the contribution of calcium, although it is also linked to other nutrients. It is a food with zinc important in our day to day, given the ease of introducing it into our diet.

Products such as cheese, yogurts or milk are recommended when we are deficient in zinc, since this mineral is in a very available form for the body.

Dairy products as cheese and milk provide a lot of nutrients,

  • Zn contributed by the cheese: 30% RDA with consumption of 100 g.
  • Zn contributed by milk: 9% RDA with the consumption of a glass.

including zinc. 100 grams of cheese provide about 30% of RDA.

8. Eggs

Eggs are a highly nutritious source of protein, but also of several essential microelements. Its consumption has always been linked to the increase in bad cholesterol, but it has not been able to be demonstrated in recent scientific trials.

Its frequent consumption is related to magnificent beneficial properties. An egg gives us about 5% of the RDA in zinc.

9. Whole grains

Cereals also provide us with an interesting fraction of this element. Products such as wheat, quinoa, oats or rice contain moderately large amounts.

However, with them we also have the same problem as with the consumption of legumes, since they contain a substance known as phytate which reduces its absorption in the intestine.

Read more: properties of quinoa

  • Wheat bran: 16.2 mg per 100 g.
  • Wheat germ: 17 mg per 100 g.
  • Corn: 2.2 mg (100 g)
  • Brown rice: 2 mg (100 g)

10. Vegetables

In general, fruits and vegetables are not an interesting source of zinc, although they are of other essential components.

Among them, potatoes, kale and green beans are the ones that contain the most of this metal. The potato provides 1 mg per 100 g consumed (9% RDA). Beans and cabbage, when we consume 100 g, contribute just under 3% RDA.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency

Once we have seen foods with zinc, we will know what symptoms offers the deficiency of this element, something that can happen in children and pregnant women or with breastfeeding babies.

The organism you need this element for cell multiplication and to maintain the functions of the immune system. When we suffer from zinc deficiency, our body can give us signals that something is going on, showing it as follows:

  • Diarrheic processes
  • Weight loss (equal to calories consumed)
  • Slow healing
  • Reduced attention
  • Decreased sense of taste and smell
  • Loss of appetite

In pregnant women, the consumption of zinc is essential as it is part of the growth of the fetus, such as folic acid. In turn, this microelement is also related to the ability to fertilize. Likewise, it also occurs in men, where a continuous lack can cause impotence.

Alcoholics can also suffer from this deficiency, since the consumption of alcohol limits the correct absorption of this element.


As we said at the beginning of the article, excess zinc is eliminated, so we need to incorporate it daily into our diet. A simple blood test will denote the lack of the microelement and a medical specialist will give us the appropriate corrections. It can also be detected by a urinalysis.

In general, it will be recommended to consume foods with zinc or take supplements based on this metal.

Many times, the lack of zinc causes other microelements to also be found in insufficient quantities. This happens with copper, since it is linked to zinc and influences its correct absorption.

Zinc supplements

A simple way to correct the deficiency of this element is with the intake of supplements. Especially recommended when we have feeding problems or do not tolerate the foods with zinc mentioned above.

Some supplements can be found based on the following complexes or chelates, to increase their absorption rate.

  • Zinc citrate: This supplement assimilates as well as zinc gluconate, but provides a less bitter and more attractive taste.
  • Zinc sulfate: a simple and inexpensive way to provide zinc, while also reducing acne symptoms.
  • Zinc gluconate: one of the best-selling and best-known forms of zinc.
  • Zinc acetate: another way to complexify and keep this element soluble to facilitate its absorption by the body.
  • Zinc picolinate: some research shows that this form improves the absorption of this element, in a better percentage than gluconate or zinc citrate.
  • Zinc orotate: one of the most common zinc supplements on the market.

Benefits of consuming zinc in recommended amounts

Improves the response of the immune system

Zinc is an element related to the immune function of the organism, as several scientific investigations have shown. A review of 18 studies that evaluated the involvement of this element against the common cold showed that its consumption in the first 24 hours of symptoms reduced the duration of symptoms by one day. [See studys]

In addition, it can also function as an antioxidant, acting against inflammation and chronic diseases. A trial conducted on 50 adults found that consuming 45 mg of zinc gluconate for one year reduced the frequency of infections and various markers of inflammation. [See study]

May improve sugar levels

This element also plays an essential role in regulating blood glucose levels as well as insulin secretion. [See information]

Some research concludes that foods with zinc can help regulate sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

Other research shows that it can reduce insulin resistance, which is very important for preventing diseases such as diabetes.

Helps fight acne

Zinc is commonly used to improve skin health and reduce common problems such as acne. It has been shown that the form of zinc sulfate it is especially helpful in lessening severe acne symptoms.

May improve cardiovascular health

Several studies analyze the intake of zinc to prevent certain heart diseases, by reducing the values of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

A review of 24 trials found the efficacy of zinc supplements in lowering levels of LDL cholesterol (considered to be bad), along with triglycerides, whose high levels are linked to serious heart disease. [Source of information]

Research conducted on 40 young women concluded that optimal blood zinc levels are linked to lower levels of systolic blood pressure. [See study]

Possible side effects

So far we have seen which are the foods with more zinc, what happens when we do not reach the right levels and its involvement in our body. However, it can also happen that we take a larger volume than we should.

In general, a healthy diet makes it impossible to raise levels above normal, to the point of considering them dangerous. However, with the taking of supplements the thing changes and we can suffer side effects.

Some symptoms of excess go through diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and stomach pain. In general, it is not recommended to take more than 40 mg of elemental zinc so as not to suffer from these problems, the evolution of which can cause serious diseases and cause the deficiency of other antagonistic elements.

Possible symptoms of excess

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain and diarrhea
  • Common infections
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Reduction of good cholesterol
  • Changes in taste perception
  • Lack of copper

About Andrew Parkinson

Andrew Parkinson is a highly accomplished pharmacist with a passion for improving healthcare. With a wealth of experience in both community and clinical pharmacy settings, he's known for his dedication to patient well-being. Mr. Parkinson actively engages in medication management, offering personalized solutions and promoting better health outcomes. He has also played a pivotal role in educating patients on proper medication usage and potential interactions. Andrew's commitment to advancing the field of pharmacy and ensuring safe and effective drug therapies has garnered him recognition as a trusted and invaluable healthcare professional, making a positive impact on countless lives.

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