Where is the most zinc found: list of 15+ foods

Zinc deficiency in the body affects activity, mood, immunity and appearance. To understand how to compensate for the deficiency of this microelement, we will study the composition of the daily diet, find out which foods contain the most zinc and in what quantities they should be consumed.

Where is the most zinc found: list of 15+ foods

most zinc found: list of 15+ foods

Zinc is one of the most important trace elements; it is necessary for the construction of new cells, the synthesis of RNA and DNA molecules containing and transmitting genetic information, for the production of proteins, amino acids, hormones and enzymes. The human body does not produce this substance on its own. In this article, together with an expert, we will figure out which foods contain the most zinc. 

Useful information about zinc

A hundred years ago, scientists recognized the indispensability of zinc for maintaining the physiological functions of the body. Our tissues contain about 2-3 g of this substance, most of it in muscles (60%) and bones (30%) (1).

This is why zinc is useful for our body.

Participates in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism Necessary for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Helps synthesize insulin, a pancreatic hormone that processes glucose
Has antioxidant properties Maintains skin elasticity, helps fight photoaging and hyperpigmentation, strengthens bones, has a beneficial effect on hair and nails
Helps regenerate tissue Actively participates in the synthesis of collagen, a component that promotes rapid healing of wounds and damage.
Supports the functioning of the nervous system and sensory organs by stimulating fatty acid metabolism Participates in the transmission of nerve impulses through neurons, reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, improves memory and mental activity
Affects taste and smell Unusual taste preferences of women at the beginning of pregnancy arise due to a lack of zinc, which is necessary for the full development of the fetus.
Reduces the likelihood of chronic inflammation Oxidative stress leads to chronic inflammation, which can cause various diseases. Zinc helps reduce oxidative stress and levels of inflammatory proteins in the body
Synthesizes and regulates the action of more than 300 enzymes Among them are pancreatic, intestinal and other enzymes, they improve and facilitate digestion

Why does the body need zinc?

1. To strengthen the immune system . Zinc supports the immune system, which protects us from infections , malignancies, chronic and autoimmune diseases.

2. To maintain healthy skin . Skin disease such as acne, or acne, occurs in almost 9.4% of the world’s population, especially in adolescents (2). The reason is blockage of the sebaceous glands, bacteria and inflammation. Often in such cases, ointments containing zinc are prescribed, and sometimes zinc is also recommended to be taken orally.

3. To reduce inflammation . Zinc is an important compound that reduces inflammation . It reduces oxidative stress and helps fight infections.

4. To protect your eyesight . Zinc helps the body absorb vitamin A, which is involved in creating the pigment melanin. More melanin protects vision from harmful ultraviolet rays.

5. For reproductive health . Zinc is especially useful for women – with a sufficient amount of this microelement in the body, hormonal levels are stabilized, the manifestations of premenstrual syndrome (headache, tearfulness, irritability) are reduced, and libido increases.

6. For the proper development of the fetus in the mother’s belly . Zinc stimulates cell division and growth, ensuring harmonious development after birth. A deficiency of this microelement can lead to impaired bone growth and various pathologies of fetal development.

List of foods rich in zinc in large quantities

Since the body does not produce zinc on its own, it needs the necessary dose of this useful trace element from the outside. Here is a list of foods that are richest in zinc.

1. Oysters

These seafood contain the maximum amount of zinc – 61 mg per 100 g. It can be said that oysters are the richest zinc product on earth.

2. Sesame seed

It has high nutritional value, so it is good to include it regularly in your diet. Sesame contains vitamins, amino acids, proteins and other useful elements. The proportion of zinc in roasted sesame is high – 10.2 mg per 100 g.

3. Poppy seeds

Poppy not only enhances the taste of baked goods, but also contains quite a lot of zinc – 7.9 mg per 100 g.

4. Pumpkin seeds

They contain 7.8 mg of zinc per 100 g. It is enough to eat 150 g to get the daily requirement of this element.

5. Egg yolk

The yolk contains a lot of useful substances, including zinc: 7.7 mg per 100 g.

6. Kamchatka crab

An expensive product that is rarely used in everyday nutrition. But if you have the opportunity to serve it, you shouldn’t give up on this idea: per 100 g of crab meat contains 7.6 mg of zinc.

7. Chicken hearts

From 100 g of product, 7.3 mg of zinc enters the body.

8. Wheat bran

They contain the same amount of useful mineral as chicken hearts – 7.3 mg.

9. Basil

We grow this aromatic spice in our gardens and add it to many dishes to replenish the supply of phytoncides, fiber and vitamins in the body. However, not everyone knows that basil also contains zinc – 7.1 mg per 100 g.

10. Lean beef

When cooked, this product is also a good source of zinc – 6.9 mg per 100g.

11. Cocoa powder

Legumes such as beans and peas contain a fairly large proportion of zinc – approximately 3.3 mg per 100g; lentils contain slightly more – 3.8 mg. But cocoa beans contain the most of this microelement – 6.8 mg per 100 g.

12. Pork liver

Contains 6.7 mg of trace elements per 100 g. Pork liver is best consumed in stewed form.

13. Pine nuts

The richest source of zinc among all nuts is 6.5 mg per 100 g. But this trace element can also be found in other nuts – cashews, peanuts.

14. Beef tongue

It is considered a delicacy because it has a delicate taste and goes well with various foods. High quality protein is easily digestible. 100 g of tongue contains approximately 4.8 mg of zinc.

15. Hard cheese

Any hard cheese contains zinc, but most of all it is found in Dutch cheese – 5 mg, and Swiss cheese – 4.4 mg per 100 g. In other types of cheese, the amount ranges from 4.5 to 3.5 mg.

Table of foods high in zinc

The best source of zinc is animal food. However, it is also found in plant products, albeit in smaller quantities.

Product Amount in mg per 100 g
Oysters 61
Sesame  10.2
Poppy seeds 7.9
Pumpkin seeds 7.8
Egg yolk 7.7
Kamchatka crab 7.6
Chicken hearts 7.3
Wheat bran 7.3
Basil 7.1
Beef 6.9
Cocoa powder 6.8
Pine nuts 6.5
Beef tongue 4.8
Hard cheese 3.5

When can zinc deficiency occur?

Microelement deficiency can develop during pregnancy and chronic diseases. It also often manifests itself in people who are vegetarians and vegans or who do not eat enough meat, fish and other sources of protein. Living in an area where the soil is poor in zinc can also lead to a lack of it in the body.

1. During pregnancy

In the first trimester of pregnancy, zinc is responsible for cell division and the formation of baby tissues in the womb. Therefore, an increased daily dose of zinc-rich foods is necessary for expectant mothers. Russian scientists concluded that 94% of children born with zinc deficiency also experienced a deficiency at school age. Children with normal levels of microelements at birth are physically stronger and taller. (3)

2. For chronic diseases

The following diseases lead to zinc deficiency:

  • diabetes;
  • sickle cell anemia;
  • chronic renal failure, hemodialysis;
  • chronic liver diseases,
  • chronic viral hepatitis
  • cirrhosis of the liver;
  • ulcerative colitis;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • celiac disease.

3. If there is a lack of zinc-rich foods in the diet

Vegetarians and vegans who avoid consuming animal protein are at greater risk. Such food is the main resource of this microelement. In addition, phytic acid in some types of plant foods, such as legumes, significantly slows down the absorption of zinc. 

Intentional refusal of foods containing zinc leads to Prasad’s disease – nutritional deficiency of the microelement. It was first described in residents of high mountain areas with low zinc content in the soil, who ate a monotonous carbohydrate-vegetable diet devoid of animal proteins.

Symptoms of Prasad’s disease are short stature (up to dwarfism), geophagia (eating clay), hypochromic anemia (lack of hemoglobin in red blood cells), which causes weakness, dizziness, fatigue, hair loss, disturbances of smell and taste.

4. In childhood and old age

Zinc deficiency is mainly dangerous for young children and the elderly. WHO conducted a study that found that adding zinc to infants’ diet reduces the likelihood of diarrhea by 18-33%. Other studies have shown that consuming 45 mg of zinc per day reduces susceptibility to infections in older adults by 66%. After the age of 50-60, many people experience a lack of zinc, since, as a rule, people of this age consume less than 10 mg of this element per day, with a minimum required level of 15 mg (4).

How to properly consume foods with zinc

In order for zinc to be absorbed, it is important to know how to prepare foods that contain it. Heat treatment is often recommended, in which the amount of zinc increases. Sometimes, on the contrary, it is better to eat the product raw.

1. Oysters are best eaten baked, since raw seafood contains much less zinc – only 39.3 g.

2. It is recommended to consume sesame roasted: seeds prepared in this way contain 10.2 mg of zinc, while raw ones contain much less: only 6.7 mg per 100 g.

3. Legumes, cereals , nuts and seeds contain phytates – salts of phytic acid. They retain phosphorus, which prevents the absorption of zinc. Therefore, before preparing and consuming, it is better to soak seeds, nuts and legumes for several hours to remove phosphorus. 

4. It is recommended to eat Kamchatka crab boiled – this way the zinc is better preserved in its meat.

5. There is no need to cook the bran: the microelement is better preserved and absorbed without heat treatment.

7. All useful substances, including zinc, are preserved not only in fresh, but also in dried basil.

Doctor’s recommendations and advice

Diana Chekunova, guest nutritionist at the “Warm Conversations” network of boarding houses for the elderly, explains:

— Recently, zinc deficiency has become a common problem – it is observed in 20% of the world population. This is one of the basic minerals that is responsible for the full functioning of the body. Previously, zinc was not considered one of the main “protectors” of health, but now its influence is considered extremely important.

Most often, this problem is encountered by people who maintain a strict diet, as well as those suffering from allergies or gastrointestinal diseases . Zinc intake may be insufficient if the diet is poor and restricts various food groups that contain it, such as nuts, seeds or organ meats. 

The so-called “zinc hunger” can be observed in people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, with disorders of the thyroid gland and liver. Being under constant stress can also cause micronutrient deficiency.

It is impossible to completely restore the balance of zinc through nutrition, but it is quite possible to maintain its level in the body. The main source of the microelement is meat products and seafood (oysters, crab, shrimp). Zinc is also found, for example, in nuts (cashews, walnuts and pine), seeds, beans and dark chocolate. 

It is recommended to reduce the consumption of coffee drinks, strong tea and alcohol. If you have a severe zinc deficiency, your doctor may recommend taking zinc supplements.

Questions and answers

Together with an expert, we answered the most common questions about zinc and the products that contain it.

How to determine zinc deficiency in the body?

Nutritionist Diana Chekunova:

— If less than 1 mg of zinc enters the body for a long time, then “zinc starvation” occurs. The first signs are shown by the skin – acne, furunculosis, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, poor wound healing. 

Hair becomes brittle and falls out , and weight may begin to increase. Sometimes the nails become brittle and white spots appear on them. 

Zinc also affects brain function. If memory deteriorates, concentration and attention decrease, the doctor sometimes recommends taking a test for zinc content in the body. It is important to remember that a deficiency of this substance provokes Alzheimer’s disease. Nervousness, increased irritability, insomnia, and sometimes gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and diarrhea appear.

What is the daily value of zinc for women, men and children?

It is easy to calculate the daily requirement of zinc using the table. There are significant differences between the daily amount of zinc for children and adults, as well as for pregnant and lactating women.

Age Daily dose of zinc
Infants from 0-6 months 2-3 mg
Children from 6 months. up to 13 years old 3-8 mg
Teenagers 14-18 years old 9-11 mg
Men under 50 years old 15 mg
Men over 50 years old 13 mg
Women under 50 years old 12 mg
Women over 50 years old 10 mg
Pregnant women 14-15 mg
Women breastfeeding 17 mg

What foods interfere with the absorption of zinc?

  • Coffee. It is better not to overuse it, as it contains polyphenols – they can affect the absorption of zinc.
  • Medicines that interfere with zinc absorption. For example, antibiotics, hormonal agents, oral contraceptives, diuretics. 
  • Iron and phytic acid. Excessive amounts of them in legumes and nuts can hinder the absorption of zinc.
  • Alcohol. The ethanol contained in it impedes absorption in the intestines and reduces the level of zinc in the body.
by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment