Foods High in Zinc

An important mineral your body requires is zinc. And because your body doesn’t produce zinc naturally, zinc must be obtained through the food you eat or via supplements. Zinc is part of important bodily systems, including cell division, immune function, wound healing, and more.

Many foods, including meats and seafood, contain good amounts of zinc, in addition to foods high in protein like beans and nuts. Whole grains and dairy products also contain zinc that can help you balance out your diet.

Why You Need Zinc

After iron, zinc is the most abundant trace mineral in the body. These two nutrients can often be found in the same food sources, and both are important to overall health and function.

In one day, an adult woman should consume 8 milligrams of zinc while an adult male should consume 11 milligrams. The National Institutes of Health considers 40 milligrams of zinc the maximum an adult should have in a day.

You should speak to a doctor before taking a zinc supplement. Zinc can decrease the effectiveness of some drugs such as antibiotics, Penicillamine (a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis), and Thiazide diuretics (blood pressure drugs). Additionally, oral zinc supplements can cause:

  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting  

Zinc is a vital nutrient and contributes to the following:

Enzyme Function

Zinc is essential so that over 300 enzymes can properly function in the body, and it plays a role in processes like digestion, metabolism, and nerve health

Child Growth and Cell Division

Zinc has also been found to contribute to improved growth and development in children and plays a crucial role in cell division.

Slowed Progression of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a common condition among adults over 50 that causes blurred or reduced central vision. This is due to the thinning of the macula. Studies have shown that zinc might slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Healthy Skin

Zinc is a requirement for skin to function normally and to remain healthy. This is why products containing zinc have been used widely to treat skin conditions, including infections, acne, skin ulcers, and other skin disorders.

Treatment of a Cold

Research suggests that taking a zinc lozenge or syrup within 24 hours of cold symptoms starting can shorten the duration of a cold. However, intranasal zinc (zinc nasal spray) has been linked with the loss of smell which can be permanent.


Foods with Zinc

Zinc is in many foods that are part of a common diet, especially meat and seafood, and also whole grains, beans, and nuts. Here are seven foods with zinc:

1. Oysters

Oysters have by far the most zinc of any other food, with 74.1 milligrams in a 3-ounce serving of oysters that are cooked, breaded, and fried. That’s 673% of an average daily value.

2. Crab

Another shellfish packed with zinc is crab. One serving of cooked Alaskan king crab (3 ounces) has 6.48 milligrams of zinc, which equates to 59% daily value. Eat plenty of shellfish to get a big dose of your daily zinc intake.

3. Beef

Red meat, especially beef, packs a lot of zinc. A 3-ounce serving of a beef chuck roast gives you 8.44 milligrams of zinc.

4. Pork

Pork chops also offer a lot of iron and zinc to help you round out your diet. A serving of 4 ounces of pork chops contains 2 milligrams of zinc.

5. Lobster

In addition to oysters and crab meat, lobster is yet another shellfish that includes plenty of zinc. One small lobster has 4.74 milligrams of zinc. Pair your lobster with beans or peas and enjoy this zinc-filled meal.

6. Chickpeas

Legumes, including beans and nuts, contain significant amounts of zinc. Chickpeas are a great source of this nutrient. One serving of chickpeas (100 grams) contains 1.5 milligrams of zinc.

7. Cashews

Nuts make a great snack throughout the day, and many are great sources of zinc for your daily balanced diet. Cashews, for example, contain 3 milligrams of zinc in just one package or 56 grams. Cashews are a tasty way to increase your zinc intake throughout the day. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 03, 2020



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Dermatology Research and Practice: “Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review.”

FoodData Central: “Beef, chuck eye roast, boneless, America’s Beef Roast, separable lean only, trimmed to 0” fat, choice, cooked, roasted.”

FoodData Central: “CASHEWS.”

FoodData Central: “CHICKPEAS.”

FoodData Central: “Crustaceans, crab, alaska king, cooked, moist heat.”

FoodData Central: “Lobster, steamed or boiled.”

FoodData Central: “Mollusks, oyster, eastern, cooked, breaded and fried.”

FoodData Central: “Pork, fresh, loin, center loin (chops), bone-in, separable lean and fat, raw.”

Mayo Clinic: “Zinc.”

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Nutrients: “Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Growth Outcomes in Children under 5 Years of Age.”

Nutrients: “Iron and Zinc Nutrition in the Economically-Developed World: A Review.”

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