Good Sources of Zinc in Food

Updated April 17, 2017

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is required in the diet on a daily basis, but only in small amounts. Zinc is found in a variety of foods, cooked and raw. Zinc is found in the human body, mostly in the strong muscles, the red and white blood cells, eye retina, skin, kidneys, bones and pancreas. If you have a zinc deficiency, which is rare, there are many supplements in the market.

Function of Zinc

Zinc performs many necessary functions in the human body, including keeping your immune system healthy, aiding digestion, controlling diabetes, and healing wounds. It is very beneficial for eye health, appetite, night blindness, healthy pregnancy, hair and skin. Zinc sprays are often used for wounds, burns or other injuries to promote healing. Zinc has become a popular remedy for reducing the length of colds; according to the American Cancer Society, there are mixed reviews on this.

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency

You will have very definite symptoms should you be lacking adequate zinc in your daily diet. Some of these conditions are low blood pressure, loss of appetite, fatigue, depression and loss of the senses of smell and taste. You also may be subject to frequent colds and infections. There could be growth failure in children from zinc deficiency.

Raw Foods

There are a wide variety of raw foods which contain adequate amounts of zinc. Pumpkin seeds: 1/4 cup contains 2.18mg; sesame seeds: 1/4 cup contains 2.80mg; maple syrup: .55mg in 2 tsp; and low fat yoghurt: 2.18mg in one cup. Crimini mushrooms have 1.56mg in a five-oz. serving.

Cooked Foods

There aris a wide variety of cooked foods that contain zinc, with animal protein the richest source. The highest content of zinc goes to calf's liver with a whopping 10.80mg per 113gr. serving, beef tenderloin with 6.33mg for a 113gr serving, and vegetables such as asparagus, summer squash, collard greens and green peas with between 1 and 3mg per one-cup serving. Seafood has high zinc content, especially oysters.

Daily dosage

The necessary daily dosage of zinc is quite small and easy to reach. Males who are 14 years and older require approximatley 11mg , and women between the ages of 14 and 18 require 9 mg. Females who are 19 years and over require 8mg per day. Pregnant women require a little higher dosage, 10 or 11 mg.

Too Much Zinc

It is possible to consume too much zinc in your daily diet. The National Academy of Sciences set a tolerable upper limit of 40mg of zinc for individuals over 19. You will have obvious symptoms such as a metallic bitter taste along with possible nausea, vomiting, cramps and stomach aches. Dr. John Swartzberg of UC Berkeley recommends that you get the required dose of zinc from food sources and not supplements.

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About the Author

Carol Stanley has been a writer and speaker for over 30 years. She has written for several Arizona publications including the "Arizona Republic." She attended the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Arizona. She authored the book "For Kids 59.99 & Over," among other publications.