Zinc is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining a sense of smell, keeping a healthy immune system, building proteins, triggering enzymes, and creating DNA. Zinc also helps the cells in your body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter.
A deficiency in zinc can lead to stunted growth, diarrhea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, and depressed immunity.
Conversely, consuming too much zinc can lead to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches in the short term, and can disrupt absorption of copper and iron in the long term.
If you have a zinc deficiency, then animal foods are better sources of zinc than plant foods. (2)
Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, chicken, tofu, pork, hemp seeds, nuts, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal, and mushrooms. The current daily value (DV) for Zinc is 11mg. Below is a list of the top ten foods highest in zinc by common serving size, for more, see the lists of vegetarian zinc foods, high zinc vegetables, high zinc fruits, and high zinc nuts.