Foods that Contain Zinc

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About Zinc

Zinc is a trace element that is essential to the human body. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, in 1961 low zinc diets were associated with adolescent nutritional dwarfism in the Middle East. Especially in developing countries, zinc deficiency is classed as a public health issue. Eating a diet rich with foods that contain zinc is one way to help prevent zinc deficiency.

The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends the following daily dosages of zinc:

  • Children six months of age and under: 2 mg
  • Children 7 months to 3 years of age: 3 mg
  • Children 4 to 8 years of age: 5 mg
  • Children 9 to 13 years of age: 8 mg
  • Males aged 14 to 18: 11 mg
  • Females aged 14 to 18: 9 mg
  • Females aged 14 to 18, Pregnant: 13 mg
  • Females aged 14 to 18, Lactating: 14 mg
  • Males aged 19 and older: 11 mg
  • Females aged 19 and older: 8 mg
  • Females aged 19 and older, Pregnant: 11 mg
  • Females aged 19 and older, Lactating: 12 mg

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, the National Academy of Sciences recommends adults not consume a level higher than 40 mg per day of zinc. Too much zinc can lead to zinc toxicity. The symptoms of this include stomach upset, diarrhea containing blood and vomiting.

The following are foods high in zinc content. These foods can add flavor, texture and variety to any eating plan. It should be noted that cooking can reduce the original zinc content in food. For example, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods, cooked navy beans lost 50 percent of their original zinc content.

Calf’s Liver

One four ounce serving of braised calf’s liver has 187.11 calories and 72 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc. This comes from the 10.8 mg of zinc in that serving.

Other nutrients found in high amounts in braised calf’s liver include copper, folate, selenium, tryptophan, vitamin A and vitamins B2 and B12.


With 30.7 percent of the recommended daily value, or 4.6 mg of zinc, lamb is a great food source of zinc. One 4 ounce serving of roasted lamb loin also contains 229.07 calories and is high in other nutrients, as well.

Some of the other nutrients found in lamb include protein, tryptophan, selenium and vitamins B3 and B12.

Pumpkin Seeds

One quarter cup serving of raw pumpkin seeds contains 186.65 calories and provides 2.57 mg or 17.1 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc.

Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorus, vitamin K and tryptophan.


One cup of low-fat yogurt contains 155.05 calories. This one cup serving also provides 2.18 mg or 14.5 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc.

Yogurt is also rich in calcium, iodine, protein, phosphorus, potassium, molybdenum, and vitamins B2 and B12.

Crimini Mushrooms

Crimini mushrooms provide 1.56 mg of zinc per five ounce serving. This equals 10.4 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc. Crimini mushrooms also are high in selenium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins B2, B3 and B5. One five-ounce serving of crimini mushrooms contain 31.19 calories.


Spinach is loaded with nutrients and in that list is zinc, providing 9.1 percent of the recommended daily value per 1 cup of boiled spinach. This constitutes 1.37 mg of zinc per serving.

Spinach is also high in iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, vitamin K and vitamins B2 and B6.


One cup of boiled asparagus contains 43.2 calories. In that one cup serving, there are 0.76 mg of zinc. This provides 5.1 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc.

Asparagus is another one of the foods that contain zinc that is also loaded with other nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in asparagus in high amounts are folate, tryptophan, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber and vitamins B1, B2 and B6.


Zinc. World’s Healthiest Foods.

Zinc. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements.

Zinc. Micronutrient Information Center. Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University.