The 10 Best Foods High in Zinc

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN

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.

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 15mg.

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.
Advertisement (Bad ad? How to mute ads)

Top 10 High Zinc Foods

Oysters1 Oysters
  • 240% DV (36mg) zinc per 6 oysters
  • 1030% DV (155mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 407% DV (61mg) zinc per 100 grams

Other Seafood High in Zinc

-68% DV zinc in a king crab leg
-35% DV in 20 small clams
-34% DV in 1 cup of canned blue crab
-23% DV in a 3oz serving of lobster
-19% DV in a 3oz serving of octopus
See the full list of over 100 fish high in zinc.

A steak on a plate2 Beef (Chuck Steak)
  • 103% DV (15mg) zinc per 5oz steak
  • 77% DV (12mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 73% DV (11mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Red Meat High in Zinc

-95% DV zinc in a ribeye steak
-44% DV in 3oz of a chuck beef roast
-37% DV in a 3oz hamburger patty
-30% DV in 3oz of ground buffalo
-28% DV in a 3oz lamb shank
See the full list of meats high in zinc.

A Roast Chicken3 Chicken Leg
  • 36% DV (5mg) zinc per roasted leg (thigh and leg)
  • 15% DV (2mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 14% DV (2mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Poultry High in Zinc

-24% DV in 1 cup of roast duck
-17% DV in a chicken drumstick (leg)
-14% DV in 3oz of roast turkey

A block of tofu4 Tofu
  • 26% DV (4mg) zinc per cup
  • 15% DV (2mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 10% DV (2mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Soy Products High in Zinc

-35% DV in 1 cup of natto
-17% DV in 1 cup of green soybeans
-13% DV in 1 cup of tempeh
See over 60 beans and legumes high in zinc.

A pork chop5 Lean Pork Chops
  • 24% DV (4mg) zinc in a 6oz chop
  • 14% DV (2mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 14% DV (2mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Pork Products High in Zinc

-43% DV zinc in a pork chop with the fat
-26% DV in 3oz of pork spare ribs
-26% DV in a 3oz Boston steak
-24% DV in 3oz of salami
-18% DV in a Bratwurst Sausage
-16% DV in 3oz of SPAM

Hemp Seeds6 Hemp Seeds
  • 19% DV (3mg) zinc per oz
  • 24% DV (4mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 66% DV (10mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Nuts and Seeds High in Zinc

-19% DV zinc in a 1oz handful of watermelon seeds
-14%DV in a 1oz handful of squash/pumpkin seeds
-12% DV per oz of pine nuts
-10% DV per oz of sunflower seeds
-10% DV per oz of pecans
See the top 10 nuts and seeds high in zinc.

Lentils7 Lentils
  • 17% DV (3mg) zinc per cup
  • 15% DV (2mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 8% DV (1mg) zinc per 100 grams

Beans High in Zinc

-17% DV zinc in 1 cup of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
-16% DV in 1 cup of large white beans
-15% DV in 1 cup of black-eyed peas
-13% DV in 1 cup of navy beans
-13% DV in 1 cup of black beans
See the full list of beans high in zinc.

Plain yogurt with raspberries8 Low-Fat Yogurt
  • 16% DV (2mg) zinc per cup
  • 23% DV (3mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 6% DV (1mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Dairy Foods High in Zinc

-16%DV zinc per 16oz glass of milk
-11% DV in 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta
-8% DV in a 1oz slice of Swiss cheese
-8% DV in 1oz of grated parmesan
-7% DV in 1oz of Gouda
See all dairy products high in zinc.

A bowl of oatmeal with blueberries9 Oatmeal
  • 16% DV (2mg) zinc per cup
  • 19% DV (3mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 7% DV (1mg) zinc per 100 grams
Fortified breakfast cereals can provide 124% DV zinc per serving.
See 200 breakfast cereals high in zinc.

Shiitake Mushrooms10 Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 13% DV (2mg) zinc per cup cooked
  • 32% DV (5mg) zinc per 200 calorie serving
  • 9% DV (1mg) zinc per 100 grams

More Vegetables High in Zinc

-13% DV zinc in 1 cup of green peas
-9% DV in 1 cup of cooked spinach
-9% DV in 1 cup of cooked white button mushrooms
-9% DV in 1 cup of lima beans
-7% DV in 1 cup of cooked asparagus
For more see the top 10 high zinc vegetables.

See All 200 Foods High in Zinc

Advertisement (Bad ad? How to mute ads)

Health Benefits of Zinc

High Risk Groups for a Zinc Deficiency

Click to View Comments

Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office Of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet
  3. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51:301-23.
  4. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.
  5. Beck FW, Prasad AS, Kaplan J, Fitzgerald JT, Brewer GJ. Changes in cytokine production and T cell subpopulations in experimentally induced zinc-deficient humans. Am J Physiol 1997;272:E1002-7.
  6. Bahl R, Bhandari N, Hambidge KM, Bhan MK. Plasma zinc as a predictor of diarrheal and respiratory morbidity in children in an urban slum setting. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68 (2 Suppl):414S-7S.
  7. Brooks WA, Santosham M, Naheed A, Goswami D, Wahed MA, Diener-West M, et al. Effect of weekly zinc supplements on incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea in children younger than 2 years in an urban, low-income population in Bangladesh: randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2005;366:999-1004.
  8. Meydani SN, Barnett JB, Dallal GE, Fine BC, Jacques PF, Leka LS, et al. Serum zinc and pneumonia in nursing home elderly. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1167-73.
  9. Black RE. Zinc deficiency, infectious disease and mortality in the developing world. J Nutr 2003;133:1485S-9S.
  10. Prasad AS, Beck FW, Bao B, Snell D, Fitzgerald JT. Duration and severity of symptoms and levels of plasma interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor, and adhesion molecules in patients with common cold treated with zinc acetate. J Infect Dis 2008 ;197:795-802.
  11. Turner RB, Cetnarowski WE. Effect of treatment with zinc gluconate or zinc acetate on experimental and natural colds. Clin Infect Dis 2000;31:1202-8.
  12. Eby GA, Halcomb WW. Ineffectiveness of zinc gluconate nasal spray and zinc orotate lozenges in common-cold treatment: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Ther Health Med 2006;12:34-8.
  13. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51:301-23.
  14. Black RE. Therapeutic and preventive effects of zinc on serious childhood infectious diseases in developing countries. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68:476S-9S.
  15. Bhutta ZA, Bird SM, Black RE, Brown KH, Gardner JM, Hidayat A, et al. Therapeutic effects of oral zinc in acute and persistent diarrhea in children in developing countries: pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:1516-22.
  16. Lukacik M, Thomas RL, Aranda JV. A meta-analysis of the effects of oral zinc in the treatment of acute and persistent diarrhea. Pediatrics 2008;121:326-36.
  17. Fischer Walker CL, Black RE. Micronutrients and diarrheal disease. Clin Infect Dis 2007;45 (1 Suppl):S73-7.
  18. Van Leeuwen R, Boekhoorn S, Vingerling JR, Witteman JC, Klaver CC, Hofman A, et al. Dietary intake of antioxidants and risk of age-related macular degeneration. JAMA 2005;294:3101-7.