13 Best Foods High In Zinc

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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There are many excellent foods high in zinc for a healthy diet, but in case your doctor recommends increasing your intake, it’s good to understand how your diet may have to change.

Importance of Zinc

Zinc is a critical component of nervous system function, digestion, hormone production, muscle growth, and development. Its connection to the hormonal processes of the body is perhaps its most important function, particularly when it comes to fertility, energy levels, mood, and diabetes. Zinc helps boost the immune system and can be found in every single cell of the body since it is required for cell division.

Foods rich in zinc (sliced salmon, meat, prawns, garlic, mushrooms, almonds, cashews, spinach, & legumes) on a wooden table

Zinc Deficiency

Some of the most recognizable signs of zinc deficiency symptoms include

  • Hair loss
  • Changes in appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced healing speed
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Nervous system dysfunctions.

Zinc deficiency is most common for those who don’t eat meat, such as vegetarians and vegans since these animal protein sources contain the highest levels of zinc. Aside from vegetarians, people who suffer from leaky gut syndrome and other digestive disorders may struggle to uptake enough of the zinc in their food, resulting in a deficiency.

Foods High in Zinc

If you want to boost your zinc levels, try adding to your diet foods high in zinc like lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, oysters, cocoa powder, kidney beans, shrimp, kefir and yogurt, cashews, mushrooms, and chicken, among others.

  • Lamb: Six ounces of lamb provides nearly 14 milligrams of this mineral, which is about 90% of your daily requirement.
  • Grass-Fed Beef: 200 grams of beef provides approximately 60% of your daily needs.
  • Chickpeas: One of the best non-meat sources of zinc, 2 cups of chickpeas offer 35% of your zinc for the day.
  • Oysters: With a whopping 8-9 milligrams per oyster, eating two of these will put you over 100% of your zinc requirement.
  • Cocoa Powder:  Along with antioxidants, the cocoa powder also delivers 2 milligrams of zinc per ounce.
  • Kidney Beans: One cup of kidney beans contains 12 milligrams of zinc, more than 100% of your daily needs.
  • Shrimp: Eating six large shrimp will provide about 1.5 milligrams of zinc, just over 10% of your daily requirement.
  • Kefir and Yogurt: One cup of kefir has about 10% of the zinc you need each day.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: A single cup of pumpkin seeds contains about 45% of your zinc intake for the day, in addition to other antioxidants that help prevent various health conditions.
  • Spinach: With an extremely dense nutrient profile, spinach delivers about 10% of your daily zinc requirement in each cup.
  • Chicken: At only 1 milligram per 100 grams of chicken, it isn’t the best source of zinc, but it is one of the most common elements in a person’s diet!
  • Mushrooms: 100 grams of mushrooms deliver about 7% of your daily requirement of zinc.
  • Cashews: Every 100 grams of cashews provide about 50% of your zinc needs each day.

There are some other sources of zinc including lozenges, capsules, and gels. You can also find zinc in almost all common supplements and multivitamins.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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