Zinc-rich foods – List and health benefits

Zinc is vital – and yet most of us neglect its importance. After all, everyone is talking about iron deficiency and how important vitamin C or A is to the body. However, zinc is an extremely important trace element that the body can not produce itself. Zinc is THE beauty mineral. But it can not only do miracles for your skin and hair but also strengthens the immune system. Here is a list of the best zinc-rich foods that should satisfy everyone’s needs.

Good reasons to eat high zinc-containing foods

high zinc containing foods for beautiful skin

Zinc does little miracles in the body. About two to four grams of the mineral are distributed in bones, skin, and hair, as well as in the liver, muscles, and kidneys. On the one hand, it ensures that the skin and hair look beautiful – which many women and men desire. In addition, zinc is a valuable helper in the defense of viruses, because it strengthens the immune system. So if you often suffer from colds, you should be careful not only to take the classic dose of vitamin C but also zinc.

Zinc is important for various functions in the body and involved in numerous metabolic processes. As a result, the mineral may influence, for example, various hormones, such as the thyroid gland.

Zinc deficiency is usually rare, as there are many foods containing zinc, which most of us eat regularly. However, it’s possible with very one-sided nutrition, as a vegan diet. Typical signs are tiredness, weight loss, lack of concentration or increased susceptibility to disease. Also, hair loss or skin problems can indicate a zinc deficiency. However, it is usually not necessary to take supplements because there are many zinc-rich foods.

How much zinc per day is healthy?

Depending on the diet, sufficient zinc intake is surprisingly easy. An adult woman needs about 7-10 mg of zinc a day (pregnant and nursing women need more), men about 11-16 mg.

Those who follow a balanced and varied diet eat enough zinc-containing food to cover this need. Zinc is mostly found in meat or cheese. But vegetarians and vegans can also meet their needs with oatmeal, whole wheat grains, nuts or seeds. However, the body can absorb zinc from animal foods better.

By the way: Fruit and vegetables basically only supply a small amount of zinc (0.1 to 1 mg per 100 g). However, since larger quantities of both should be consumed daily, this food group is also a very important source of zinc.

There are also elements that increase or interfere with zinc absorption. Citric acid, which is found in various types of fruit, helps for increasing zinc intake. Phytate and oxalic acid, however, have a strong negative effect on zinc absorption.  Especially grains and nuts contain high amounts of phytate. However, the content can be lowered by fermentation, germination, roasting or soaking.

List of zinc-rich foods for meat-eaters and vegetarians

top zinc rich foods oysters


When it comes to zinc-rich foods, oysters are by far the absolute frontrunner. In the 100 g portion oysters, there is 22 mg of zinc! Other seafood can not even compete: 100 g scallops contain just about 2 mg of zinc and crabs just 2.2 mg per 100 g.

Egg yolk

100 g of egg yolk has a total of 3.8 mg of zinc – a very good value. But if you look at the values of eggs as a whole, they are not so good in terms of zinc content. The egg white has per 100 g only 0.02 g of zinc. Therefore, you can eat only the egg yolk.

zinc rich foods red meat steak

Meat and liver

When it comes to zinc-rich foods, meat is generally a good supplier. Veal and beef contain particularly high levels of up to 4.8 mg zinc per 100 g. Roasted rump steak provides the most zinc, 5.9 mg per 100 g.

100 g lamb shank: 3.7 mg zinc
100 g medium-fat pork: 2.3 mg zinc
100 g chicken wing: 1.3 mg zinc

If you like to eat liver, you should definitely put in on your menu, because it is a very good source of zinc.

100 g calf liver: 6.1 mg zinc
100 g lamb liver: 3.9 mg zinc
100 g beef liver: 4.8 mg zinc
100 g pork liver: 6.5 mg zinc
100 g chicken liver: 3.2 mg of zinc

high zinc content in cheese ideal for vegetarians

There is a lot of zinc in cheese!

Cheese belongs to the group of zinc-rich foods. How much zinc is included varies greatly from the cheese type. Hard and blue cheeses have a significantly higher zinc content than, for example, cream cheese.

100 g Parmesan (45% fat): 5.8 mg zinc
100 g blue cheese (50% fat): 5 mg zinc
100 g Butter cheese (30% fat): 4.7 mg zinc
100 g Emmental: 5.8 mg zinc
100 g Gouda: 4.2 mg zinc

zinc rich foods for vegetarians and vegans oatmeal and pumpkin seeds

Zinc-rich foods for vegans

Cereals and legumes

Most people eat wheat as flour in the form of bread or pasta. In this case, however, it contains very little zinc. As wheat germ or even wheat bran, it looks quite different.

100 g wheat germ: 8.6 mg zinc
100 g wheat bran: 9 mg zinc

Wild rice delivers 6 mg of zinc per 100 and can be served as a side dish to any meal.

If you eat a portion of oatmeal every day, you are doing your body a real favor. The breakfast cereals not only contain a lot of iron and protein but also have a high zinc content. 100 g of oatmeal contains 4 mg of zinc. The other cereals cannot compete with that.

For legumes, soybeans rank number one in terms of zinc content:

100 g soybeans: 4.2 mg zinc
100 g lentils: 3.4 mg zinc

high zinc foods vegan seeds and nuts pecan pumpkin buckwheat cashew

Seeds and nuts that contain zinc

Seeds and kernels not only provide a lot of magnesium, but they also contain some zinc. The front runners are pumpkin and sunflower seeds, as well as sesame and poppy seeds.

100 g pumpkin seeds: 6.1 mg zinc
100 g sunflower seeds: 5.7 mg zinc
100 g pine nuts: 4.2 mg zinc
100 g poppy seeds: 8 mg zinc
100 g sesame seeds: 7.7 mg zinc
100 g chia seeds: 4.6 mg of zinc

In 100 g of Brazil nuts there ist 4 mg of zinc. However, the pecan, which is so popular in the USA, is the leader with around 5.3 mg zinc per 100 g.

The other nut varieties contain a little less zinc:
100 g cashews: 2.1 mg zinc
100 g peanuts: 2.8 mg zinc
100 g hazelnuts: 1.9 mg zinc
100 g walnuts: 2.7 mg zinc
100 g almonds: 2, 2 mg of zinc


Cocoa powder has a total of 5.9 mg of zinc per 100 g. But even though dark chocolate contains some superpowers, high sugar content is often a drawback.

So there are quite a lot of zinc-rich foods, for meat-eaters as well as for vegetarians and vegans, with which the daily needs can be covered and a zinc deficiency can be avoided. Pay attention to a balanced diet. In this way, you are usually on the safe side and can also prevent other nutrient deficiencies.