Healthy Foods and Vitamins

Where is Zinc Found in Food?

Which is your Best Choice: Zinc from animal or Plant Sources?

Zinc is considered one of the essential trace elements important for human health, and it is present in all cells of the body, and it is needed to perform many of its functions such as: improving the performance of the immune system, helping to heal wounds, and it has a role in cell division and growth, and carbohydrate metabolism, in addition to enhancing Insulin works, as the body needs for the senses of smell and taste. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, and during childhood, it contributes to healthy growth.

It is worth noting that zinc is not stored within the human body, so enough of it must be obtained through the daily diet, and its nutritional supplements can also be consumed if necessary.

Where is zinc found in food

The body absorbs 20-40% of the zinc found in food. The body usually achieves the best absorption of zinc from animal sources compared to plant foods . It should be noted that it is concentrated in red meat, fish, and poultry. It is usually preferable to take zinc supplements with a meal that contains protein because Because it contributes to increasing its absorption, however, some may have to obtain zinc from plant sources for special circumstances or due to following certain diets, according to the following:

Vegetarian people

People who follow a vegetarian diet need larger amounts of some nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, the most important of which are iron and zinc. These people need 150% of the recommended daily allowance of zinc compared to ordinary people.

This is due to the difficulty of absorbing zinc from plant foods, which makes them need to compensate for this deficiency by focusing on eating foods that provide zinc in high concentrations, such as brown rice, oats, bread, nuts, and legumes. Soy products such as tofu and fortified breakfast cereals.

The problem of absorbing zinc from plant sources can be overcome by following some of the following techniques and methods:

Fermentation of whole grains, soaking of legumes, and germination of seeds and grains. Eat large amounts of protein with foods containing zinc to improve its absorption. Choose sourdough or sourdough bread. Take zinc supplements at different times and away from meals.

People who are Allergic to Gluten

People with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten sensitivity are among the most vulnerable to zinc deficiency. This is due to the body’s inability to absorb food properly, which makes them limited to certain foods that are often not fortified with the nutrients the body needs.

Therefore, it may be more appropriate for them to obtain animal sources of zinc in addition to taking zinc supplements to obtain a sufficient amount of it, with the need to ensure that the recommended amount of zinc does not exceed 40 milligrams of zinc for adults to avoid the harms of excessive zinc, in addition to the necessity of avoiding wheat products, especially those that contain gluten.

Plant sources of zinc

Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans contain large amounts of zinc. 100 grams of cooked lentils contain one milligram of zinc, or the equivalent of 12% of the daily amount, but they also contain phytates, which inhibit the absorption of zinc. Zinc and other minerals are in the intestine, which means that zinc absorption from animal sources is better than absorption from legumes.

It is worth noting that legumes are a good source of zinc for vegetarians. Especially those who follow a strict vegan diet. In addition, it is a good source of proteins and dietary fiber.

Heating, soaking, and fermentation processes for plant sources of zinc can increase the bioavailability of this mineral.


Eating nuts such as pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and almonds can increase zinc consumption, as 28 grams of cashews contain 14% of the daily amount. In addition, nuts contain other nutritional elements such as: healthy unsaturated fats. , especially monounsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and a number of other vitamins and minerals.

Some vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are poor sources of zinc, but there are some vegetables that contain reasonable amounts that can contribute to meeting the body’s daily needs, especially for people who do not eat meat, including: potatoes and sweet potatoes, of which a large grain provides one milligram.

Of zinc, which is equivalent to 9% of the recommended daily amount for men, in addition to green beans and curly cabbage, which provide 3% of the daily amount per 100 grams.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains reasonable amounts of zinc, as every 100 grams of 70% to 85% dark chocolate contains 3.3 milligrams of zinc, or the equivalent of 30% of the daily amount.

In contrast, it also contains a high percentage of zinc. Sugar and calories: every 100 grams of it contains 600 calories, and for this reason it cannot be considered a major source of zinc.

Whole grains

Whole grains such as: wheat, quinoa, rice, and oats contain zinc, as 100 grams of oats contain one milligram of zinc, which is equivalent to 9% of the recommended daily amount for men.

However, it is worth noting that grains contain phytate compounds, as in legumes, and whole grains contain larger amounts of them compared to refined grains without hulls, and therefore they provide the body with a smaller amount of zinc.

Despite this, it is better for the health of the body, and it is also a good source of many important nutrients, such as: fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium.

It is worth noting that consuming whole grains provides many other health benefits, including a reduced risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, as a systematic review was published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in 2013, and recommended eating whole grains instead of refined ones.

The study also indicated the need to consume at least two servings of whole grains daily to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Animal Sources of Zinc

There are many nutritional foods rich in zinc, which are able to meet the daily needs of it. The following paragraph can answer people who wonder about knowing where zinc is found in food?


Meat is a good source of zinc, as red meat in particular contains large amounts of it, but abundant amounts of it can also be found in all different types of meat, including beef and lamb, as eating 100 grams provides Beef contains approximately 11 milligrams of zinc, which is equivalent to 99% of the daily amount. [8]


Oysters are low-calorie sources of zinc, and oysters in particular contain large amounts of zinc. 6 medium-sized oysters provide approximately 52 milligrams of zinc, which is equivalent to 472% of the daily amount. Other types of oysters are a good source of zinc.

Also, even though they contain a small amount of it, such as shrimp and mussels; 100 grams of them provide 14% of the daily amount of zinc.

Milk and Dairy Products

It contains many nutrients, including zinc, and milk and cheese are prominent sources of zinc with a high ability to be absorbed in the body, as they contain bioavailable zinc, and approximately 473 milliliters of milk contains 16% of the amount. Recommended daily intake for men.


Eggs contain moderate amounts of zinc, which can help meet the recommended daily requirement for men of this mineral,  and a large egg provides 5% of the daily amount,  in addition to being a source of choline. It is a nutrient that most people do not get enough of.

Types of Nutritional Supplements Available

  • Zinc gluconate: It is the most common type and does not require a prescription. It is commonly used in cases of colds, and is available in a concentration of 76 milligrams.
  • Zinc acetate: Using zinc acetate helps relieve the symptoms of the common cold, and is usually added to soothing throat lozenges.
  • Zinc sulphate: Using zinc sulphate helps treat zinc deficiency, in addition to contributing to the treatment of acne. It is available in different concentrations and pharmaceutical forms.
  • Zinc picolinate: It is the best absorbed type in the body compared to the previous types, and is available in different concentrations and doses.
  • Zinc citrate: This type is characterized by its good absorption, like zinc gluconate, but it has a less bitter and more delicious taste.

Groups that need zinc supplements It is worth noting the cases that require zinc supplements and it is not enough to rely on natural sources, we explain them as follows:

  • Severe deficiency of zinc.
  • Treatment of Wilson’s disease with zinc acetate.
  • Treatment of acute diarrhea in children.
  • Alleviating the symptoms associated with the common cold.
  • Preventing the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vision loss.

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I am Khaliq Alvi. Currently I am doing P.hd on Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Sorbonne University. Previously, I have also done masters in Molecular Nutrition and Food Technology.

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