Zinc - Information and Sources

Zinc is an essential mineral present in small amounts in all tissues. Bones and teeth contain more, as does the pancreas and there is around 0.7mg/100ml blood. It is however, only needed in small amounts from the diet. Even though we only need small amounts, some people do not have high zinc levels because only 20-30% of the zinc we consume is actually absorbed in the intestine. Absorption is decreased by dietary fibre, calcium, copper, phytate (from raw unprocessed bran), and phosphate. The presence of amino acids and peptides in the gut increase zinc absorption. Adult males require 9.5mg of dietary zinc per day, females 7mg per day.

The following foods are significant sources of zinc:

  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Other nuts and seeds
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Dairy products (especially yoghurt and hard cheese)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Peas
  • Wholegrain foods
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Rye, rye flour and rye bread
  • Oats and oat flour
  • Free range eggs
  • Wheatgerm