23 High Zinc Foods for Vegans and Vegetarians

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
Powered by USDA Nutrition Data.
23 High Zinc Foods for Vegans and Vegetarians

Zinc is an essential nutrient required by the body for creating over 300 enzymes, and maintaining our sense of taste and smell. (1,2)

Health benefits of zinc include enhanced immune function, faster wound healing, and reduced duration of the common cold. (3,4,5,6)

Zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, impotence, delayed wound healing, abnormal taste, and mental fatigue. (7,8)

Phytates, which are present in whole-grain breads, cereals, and legumes, do inhibit the absorption of zinc. (9) To compensate for the bioavailability of zinc, vegans and vegetarians should aim to consume 22mg or 200% of the daily value (DV) of zinc. Further, they can eat foods fortified with zinc.

Vegan and vegetarian sources of zinc include fortified cereals, wheat germ, tofu, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal, wild rice, squash seeds, and milk. The daily value (DV) for zinc is 11mg per day. (10)

Below are 23 vegan and vegetarians foods high in zinc. For more, see the articles on high zinc nuts, high zinc fruits, and high zinc vegetables.

Zinc Requirements By Age and Gender

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc ranges from 3mg to 11mg per day. The daily value for zinc is 11mg per day. (9)

Life StageRDA
Infants
0-6 months old*2mg
7-12 months old3mg
Children
1-3 years old3mg
4-8 years old5mg
Males
9-13 years old8mg
14-18 years old11mg
19-50 years old11mg
50+ years old11mg
Females
9-13 years old8mg
14-18 years old9mg
19-50 years old8mg
50+ years old8mg
Pregnancy
14-18 years old12mg
18+ years old11mg
Lactation
14-18 years old13mg
18+ years old12mg
*The amounts for children less than 6 months old is the adequate intake (AI) not RDA.
Source: Dietary Reference Intakes for Zinc.

Use the ranking tool links below to select foods and create your own food list to share or print.


View more nutrients with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. Lesburg CA, Huang C, Christianson DW, Fierke CA. Function and mechanism of zinc metalloenzymes Biochemistry. 1997 Dec 16;36(50):15780-91. doi: 10.1021/bi971296x. 9398308
  2. Wagner PA. Zinc and the special senses Geriatrics. 1985 Mar;40(3):111-3, 117-8, 124-5. 3972248
  3. Cai C, Lin P, Zhu H, Ko JK, Hwang M, Tan T, Pan Z, Korichneva I, Ma J. Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation J Biol Chem. 2015 May 29;290(22):13830-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.620690. Epub 2015 Apr 13. 25869134
  4. Wellinghausen N, Rink L. Zinc and the immune system J Leukoc Biol. 1998 Nov;64(5):571-7. doi: 10.1002/jlb.64.5.571. 9823760
  5. Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 30;2015(4):CD001364. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub5. 25924708
  6. Visser ME, Durao S, Sinclair D, Irlam JH, Siegfried N. Zinc Supplementation Reduces Common Cold Duration among Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials with Micronutrients Supplementation Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 May 18;5(5):CD003650. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003650.pub4. 28518221
  7. Crider K, Williams J, Qi YP, Gutman J, Yeung L, Mai C, Finkelstain J, Mehta S, Pons-Duran C, Menéndez C, Moraleda C, Rogers L, Daniels K, Green P. Zinc Deficiency Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Feb 1;2(2022):CD014217. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD014217. 36321557
  8. Crider K, Williams J, Qi YP, Gutman J, Yeung L, Mai C, Finkelstain J, Mehta S, Pons-Duran C, Menéndez C, Moraleda C, Rogers L, Daniels K, Green P. Zinc Deficiency Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Feb 1;2(2022):CD014217. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD014217. 36321557
  9. Gibson RS, Raboy V, King JC. Dietary factors influencing zinc absorption Nutr Rev. 2018 Nov 1;76(11):793-804. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy028. 30010865
  10. U.S.FDA - Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels
MyFoodData provides free nutrition data tools and articles to help you organize and understand the foods you eat.

Try the recipe nutrition calculator, or daily meal planner.

Create a free account to log and track foods.