Zinc helps the body heal by fighting off bacteria and viruses. It is required for growth, reproduction, metabolism, and blood clotting. Found in all body tissues, it acts as an antioxidant, blocking free radical damage and helping control the aging process. Furthermore, we need this mineral to help produce certain proteins and DNA, so it is essential to get enough each day to stay healthy and maintain a robust immune system. Many healthy foods contain enough zinc to meet the daily requirements, naturally.


Infants, pregnant women, children, and adolescents run the highest risk of zinc deficiency. People who consume too much alcohol, endurance athletes, and those with gastrointestinal issues are also at risk of a deficiency. Baked, roasted, or broiled, three ounces of lamb has 6.7 milligrams or 45 percent of your daily requirement of zinc, along with generous servings of protein, selenium, taurine, and creatine.


Pumpkin Seeds

One cup of pumpkin seeds yields 6.6 milligrams (44 percent of the daily requirement) of zinc. Though most people are unlikely to eat that many seeds in one day, even a small handful of this benefit-packed snack can have a positive impact on zinc levels. In addition, pumpkin seeds are known for helping reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women, and can also promote prostate and mental health.


Grass-Fed Beef

Eating 100 mg of grass-fed beef is a great way to meet 30 percent of your daily zinc requirement. Grass-fed beef also has more omega-3 fatty acids than regular beef, which helps fight cancer, improve blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and controls weight.


Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans

One cup of chickpeas has 17 percent of your daily zinc. It is also one of the most versatile legumes and tastes great in salads, stews, and side dishes. Chickpeas have complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested by the body, ensuring more is used for energy instead of going to fat stores.


Cocoa Powder

A single ounce of cocoa powder offers 13 percent of the average daily requirement for zinc. Cocoa is also a great source of epicatechin and catechin, antioxidants that alleviate inflammation and disease. The high concentration of these flavonoids adds a surprising health kick to desserts and hot chocolate, with benefits such as improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.



Cashews are a universal favorite due to their unique flavor and satisfying creamy composition. One ounce has 11 percent of the daily RDI of zinc. The high-protein snack contains lots of unsaturated fatty acids, not to mention an array of other nutrients that can help fend off heart disease, promote bone health, and boost brain function. Because they help you feel full, these nuts curb food cravings, contributing to weight maintenance.


Kefir or Yogurt

Cultured dairy products like yogurt and kefir are probiotics. One cup of either has ten percent of the daily recommended amount of zinc and also delivers a whole host of digestive benefits. Both also play a role in improving cardiovascular health and helping regulate mood. The probiotic nature of kefir helps improve the gut microbiome, which has health benefits for the whole body.



Enjoy 1 cup of mushrooms and receive nine percent of your daily zinc. Among the fungi's many nutritional benefits are immunity, cancer-fighting abilities, and properties for heart and brain health. The lightly flavored treat can be incorporated into almost any dish, from pizza to soups, and salads to casseroles.



One cup of spinach has nine percent of the average RDI of zinc. This powerhouse is also one of the most nutritious foods in the world. So, take a tip from Popeye and eat your spinach to get protective carotenoids that reduce the occurrence of many health concerns, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.



One serving of chicken has seven percent of our daily zinc needs. It's also packed with B vitamins like niacin, B6, and B12, as well as pantothenic acid. Maintain high energy levels by including chicken in two or three meals each week.



Along with having a ritzy reputation, oysters are considered one of the richest known sources of bioavailable zinc in the world. Just three hours after test subjects consumed 120 grams of oysters, test results showed that serum zinc levels reached an average of 142 ug/mol, which falls within the optimal range. The mineral is especially important to pregnant women, as it is essential for optimal fetus growth. Zinc's bioavailability applies whether oysters are raw or cooked.


Crab and Lobster

Not only are crab and lobster excellent sources of lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but each also provides a significant portion of the daily zinc requirement. Of the recommended 8 mg for women and about 11 mg for men, one steamed hard shell crab provides about 3.8 mg. On average, boiled or steamed lobster tail provides approximately 4 mg. This is just another great reason to enjoy that next seafood bake.

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Whether cooked up for breakfast or used to make bread, one cup of oats has over 1 mg and up to 4 mg of zinc, as some cereals are fortified with extra zinc. Oats are also an excellent source of fiber, which helps ensure bowel health and reduce the risk of heart disease. When it comes to getting the best nutrition from this whole grain, the less processed, the better. While instant oats are easy to use, steel-cut or groats are the best at keeping blood sugar in check, because they take longer to digest.

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One whole egg provides about 4 percent of the recommended daily allowance of zinc. But the real value of eggs comes from their versatility. They can be easily combined with other foods to provide that extra source of protein and minerals. For example, a simple ham, cheese, and spinach omelet boosts your intake of zinc, iron, and other vital nutrients.

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Getting the daily requirement of zinc from vegetarian diets is challenging. Phytic acid, which is found in various foods, such as legumes and seeds, inhibits zinc absorption. Studies indicate that women who consume a vegetarian diet need approximately 25 percent more zinc than their omnivorous counterparts. Tofu, coagulated soy protein, is one of the best sources. The process of making tofu, which involves stages of soaking and heating, reduces phytates, and makes zinc more bioavailable.

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