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Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral - needed in only small amounts by our bodies but with many important functions. Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite, poor growth, loss of hair, a poorly functioning immune system (leading to constant illness), poor wound healing and changes in taste sensation.

How much zinc do we need?

Age (years)

RDI* Zinc (mg/day)

Infants

7-12 months

3

Children

1-3

3

4-8

4

9-13

6

Boys

14-18

13

Girls

14-18

7

Men

19-70+

14

Women

19-70+

8

Pregnant women

14-18

10

19-50

11

Breastfeeding women

14-18

11

19-50

12

Who needs more and why?

  • Teenagers need more zinc to help with their growth and development.

  • Vegetarians. The absorption of zinc, and iron, is lower in vegetarian diets because vegetarians eat more legumes and wholegrains (these contain phytates, which reduce zinc absorption) while avoiding meat (which is a source of zinc).

Zinc content of foods

Zinc is found in seafood (especially oysters), lean red meat, chicken, wholegrain cereals, beans, lentils and seeds, and dairy.

Foods rich in Zinc

Zinc (mg)

1 raw oyster

1.5

1 cup smoked mussels

4.1

1 grilled rump steak

8

1 roast chicken breast

1.9

1 wholegrain bread roll

0.8

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1.4

10 roasted peanuts

1.2

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1.1

1/4 cup edam cheese

1

1 cup reduced fat milk

1

Tips to increase your zinc intake

To increase your zinc intake try:

  • adding beans to salads or casseroles

  • yoghurt as a snack

  • including roast beef in your wholegrain sandwich at lunchtime.

If you are concerned about your intake of zinc, please discuss it with your doctor.

Last modified: 
08/05/18