Micronutrients
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Sources of Zinc

Sources of Zinc

Zinc is one of the most overlooked micronutrients with the symbol of Zn and an atomic number of 30. Zinc has not been recognized as its importance demands.  Yes, zinc, one of the micronutrient that is not only important to prescribe during pregnancy and lactating period yet has equally required during every growth period including childhood to adolescence from adolescence to adulthood and being adult to elderly.

Looking upon its magnificent benefits to each age group it would better be called it as a mother of micronutrient. Zinc is primarily found in the pancreas, liver, kidney, bones, and muscles and additionally distributed among cells in the body and is also an intracellular trace element.

Functions of zinc :

The zinc content of a healthy body of 65 – 72 kg is 1.5 to 2.5 g  aim to do various functions of a healthy maintained body.

  • Enzymatic function

Zinc plays an important role in enzyme action. Almost 200  enzymes rely on zinc to catalyze their chemical reaction which has broad and diverse functions throughout the body.

  • Structuring and functioning of the protein

Zinc is essential for proper functioning of cellular metabolism as it protects the cellular membrane and protects it from damage and keep the cell proteins structure stabilize.  it also helps to bind the protein to the DNA and helps the cell in growth, gestation and disease prevention.

  • Immune functioning

Zinc is important in the production and regulation of the cellular and humoral immune response also helps the release of hormones and nerve transmission. By improving and boosting the immune system zinc makes and maintain strong and healthy bones.

  • Antioxidant functioning

Zinc is an essential part of the important antioxidant enzyme (Cu/Zn SOD ). This enzyme is particularly important in the protection of cell lipids from peroxidation and breakdown.

Functions of ZincSources of Zinc

Zinc is found in many food groups including meat group (which includes fish and shellfish also)cereals, nuts and seed and yes, fruits and vegetables. These food groups also comprise many other nutrients also to boost the body mechanism and enhance the proper functioning of the body.

Foods high in zinc

Here, I have given details about foods that are rich in zinc. Fruits are a major source of zinc, you can find below the list of Zinc Rich Fruits and Vegetables.

Oysters :

you will be surprised to know that bivalve oysters are the powerhouses of zinc per medium size oyster contains about 5.3mg of zinc. This marvelous creature is not only the powerhouse of zinc but also contains protein which is low in calories necessary in muscles building, along with that it also contains precious necessary minerals and vitamins. vitamins include vitamin B-12, vitamin C or ascorbic acid used as an antioxidant and also iron . all these nutrients work together to make a stronger immune system.

Dark chocolate :

To boost your zinc content in the body, chocolate can play an amazing role, just bite square of sweetened dark chocolate and re-boost your zinc energy.  9.6 mg  of zinc is present in 100 grams of unsweetened dark chocolate and 6.8 mg zinc is present in  Cocoa powder.

Wheat germ:

according to 100%, dietary allowance recommended a sprinkle of wheat germ on salads, dressings, slices of bread, buns can give you almost 17mg of zinc per 100gram serving.

Asparagus :

a spring vegetable called  Asparagus, or garden asparagus, or also called sparrow grass, scientific name Asparagus Officinalis, contains  540 mcg zinc per 100-gram serving

Sesame seeds :

Sesame seeds used multi-purposely in bread, buns, sesame seed flour, tortillas as well as sweets and baked products contain a very good amount of zinc almost 10 mg per 100 gram serving

Nuts almonds and cashews  :

If you want some extra zinc from nuts and dry fruits side? Have some cashews, almonds, peanuts and pine nuts to boost your zinc intake because nuts not only carry health beneficial fats but also fibers as well as minerals and vitamins. Among all types of nuts cashews and almonds would be a better choice.

Spinach :

Among superfoods , spinach would probably on the top as it contains almost every nutrient among which zinc is most important .1.4mg of zinc can be gained from a cooked one cup spinach.  Not only zinc but also iron is also present in ma agnificent amount  and thus helps improving blood health. So lets add these green leafy veggies to the diet to brighten up the body.

Red meat:

An excellent source of zinc is meat and most importantly  red meat which can be either lamb meat, beef meat or pork meat. A serving of 100 grams contains almost 4.8 grams of zinc that is usually recommended daily intake for a person. Besides zinc red could be a great source of iron , vitamin B complex and proteins. So if you are underweight , red meat could be a good source of weight gain with all essential minerals and nutrients.

Pumpkin seeds:

Pumpkin seeds has been one of the best source of zinc as na utritional power house as it contains phosphorus , magnesium , iron, copper , manganese as well as protein . per 100 grams of pumpkin seeds contains 7.64mg of zinc

Watermelon seeds:

it would be a surprise for you because yes dried watermelon seeds contains a relatively high amount of zinc  almost about 10mg per 100 grams.

Garlic :

The pungent smell bearing garlic is ready to offer you moderate levels of zinc that is naturally occurring and is readily incorporated in every meal.  Most importantly garlic also acts as a detox because of the presence of other minerals like manganese , vitamin B6, vitamin C and yes selenium.

Zinc Rich Foods for Vegetarians

Vegetarian and semi vegetarian diets are low in bioavailability of zinc. Chronic or strict dieting for weight loss often leads to zinc deficiency, but still there are many foods that can be a good source of zinc.

  • Cereals
  • Wheat germ
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Squash seeds
  • Shellfish
  • Oysters
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Mushrooms
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Neem leaves
  • Neem seeds
  • Neem fruits

Zinc is particularly  low in bioavailability in vegetarian and semi-vegetarian  diet yet there is still some foods that appear to be the really good source of zinc to meet the demand

Beans and Legumes

Legumes including lentils, chickpea, red beans and black beans, edamame, and hummus adds extra zinc and minerals. Around 1.1mg  zinc is recommended daily. About more than half is provided by legumes in the different ratio

Nuts  andSeeds

Nuts and seeds including  pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds dried , almonds , cashews  and yes pine nuts are a superficial natural source of zinc supply  so adding the to your diet can give you extra zinc and other micronutrients.  These can be easily added to yogurt, salads ,dressings and sweet dishes .

Wheat germs

Wheat germ could be the best source of zinc if a person is not a gluten intolerant means person should be gluten free than wheat germ along with zinc will be a good source of protein as well as vitamin E.

Yeast

Specifically nutritional yeast is one of the best source of zinc for people who are dependant on plant based diet just 40% zinc for 4 tablespoons and 20%  for 2 tablespoon

Zinc rich sources for vegetarian

  • Mushroom
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Fenugreek
  • Bitter gourd
  • Sunflower
  • Lentils
  • Whole wheat bread
  • White beans
  • Wheat bran
  • Corn
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs

Vegetable sources  of Zinc per 100 gram serving

  • Mushroom (shiitake dried) : 100 g of mushrooms  (shitake dried) contains 7.7mg of zinc
  • Mushrooms (morel) : 100 g of  2mg of mushrooms ( morel) contains 2mg of zinc
  • Mushrooms (shiitake ): 100 g of mushrooms (shitake) contains 1mg of zinc
  • Mushroom (crimini ): 100 g of mushroom  (crimini) contains 1.1mg of zinc
  • Tomatoes ( dried): 100 g of  tomatoes (dried) contains 2mg of zinc
  • Lemon grass: 100 g of lemon grass contains 2.2mg of zinc
  • Lentil sprouts: 100 g of lentil sprouts contains 1.6mg of zinc
  • pea: 100 g of pea contains 1.2mg of zinc
  • Pea sprouts: 100 g of pea sprouts contains 1.1mg of zinc
  • Garlic: 100 g of garlic contains 1.2 mg of zinc
  • Parsley: 100 g of parsley contains 1.1mg  of zinc
  • Hot chili pepper sun dried: 100 g of hot chili pepper sun dried contains 1mgof zinc
  • Alfa Alfa: 100 g of Alfa Alfa  contains 0.9mgof zinc
  • Melon: 100 g of melon contains 0.8mgof zinc
  • Radish: 100 g of radish contains 0.6mg of zinc
  • Kale: 100 g of kale contains 0.6mgof zinc
  • Asparagus: 100 g of asparagus contains 0.5mgof zinc
  • Sweet white corn: 100 g of sweet white corn contains 0.5mg of zinc
  • Broccoli: 100 g of broccoli contains 0.5mg of zinc
  • Spinach: 100 g of spinach contains 0.5mg of zinc
  • Argula: 100 g ofargula contains 0.5mg of zinc
  • Okra: 100 g of okra contains 0.4mg of zinc
  • Dandelion: 100 g of dandelioncontains 0.4mg of zinc
  • Kidney beans sprout: 100 g of kidney beans sprout contains 0.4mg of zinc
  • Cassava : 100 g of cassava contains 0.3mgof zinc
  • Ginger: 100 g of ginger contains 0.3mgof zinc
  • Celeriac: 100 g of celeriac contains 0.3 mgof zinc
  • Boiled potato : 100 g of boiled potato contains 0.3mgof zinc
  • Cauliflower: 100 g of cauliflower contains 0.3mgof zinc
  • Turnip: 100 g of turnip contains 0.3mgof zinc
  • Carrot: 100 g of carrot contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • Kimchi: 100 g of kimchi contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • Red cabbage: 100 g of red cabbage contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • Collards : 100g of collards contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • Cucumber :100g of cucumber contains 0.2mg of zinc

Zinc rich fruits

Here is the list of zinc rich fruits, not only they taste good but are filled with blessings of mother nature.

  • Pomegranate
  • Avocados
  • Some berries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Loganberries
  • Dates
  • Dried figs
  • Dried apricots
  • Kiwi
  • Banana
  • Prunes
  • Tangerine
  • Strawberries
  • Raisins
  • Cantaloupe
  • Plantain
  • Apricots

High zinc fruit sources  per 100 gram serving

  • Apricot (dried) : 100 g of  apricot (dried) contains 1 mg of zinc
  • Peaches (dried) : 100 g of peaches (dried) contains 0.8 mg of zinc
  • Prunes : 100 g of prunes contains 0.8mg of zinc
  • Blueberries wild: 100 g of blueberries (wild) contains 0.7mg of zinc
  • Avocadoes : 100 g of avocados contains 0.6mg of zinc
  • Banana dried: 100 g of banana (dried) contains 0.6mg of zinc
  • Black berries: 100 g of black berries contains 0.5mg of zinc
  • dried plum prunes: 100 g of dried plum prunes contains  4mg  of zinc
  • dates: 100 g of dates contains 0.4mg of zinc
  • raspberries : 100 g ofraspberries contains 0.4mgof zinc
  • raspberries (frozen): 100 g of raspberries contains 0.4mgof zinc
  • pomegranates: 100 g of pomegranates contains 0.4mg of zinc
  • olives : 100 g of olives contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • raisins: 100 g of raisins contains 0.2 mg of zinc
  • apricots: 100 g of apricots contains 0.2 mg of zinc
  • apples ( dried) : 100 g of apples  (dried)contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • banana: 100 g of banana contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • figs: 100 g of figs contains 0.2mg of zinc
  • kiwi: 100 g of kiwi contains 0.1mg of zinc
  • strawberries: 100 g of strawberries  contains 0.1mg of zinc
  • pineapple: 100 g of pineapples contains 0.1mg of zinc
  • limes: 100 g of limes  contains 0.1mgof zinc
  • pear: 100 g of pear contains 0.1 mg of zinc
  • plum: 100 g of contains 0.1mg of zinc
  • tamarinds: 100 g of tamarinds contains 0.1mg of zinc
  • mango: 100 g of mango contains 0.1mg of zinc
  • papaya: 100 g of papaya contains 0.1mg  of zinc
  • grapefruit: 100 g of grapefruit  contains  1mg of zinc

zinc intake requirement-RDA

Age in year Daily requirement mg/day Safe limit. (do not exceed mg/day)
Men 19 years and older 11 40
Women 19 years and older 8 40
Pregnant and lactating women 11 40
Breastfeeding women 19 years & older 23 40
  • these amounts include zinc from both food and supplements.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc a vital micronutrient for a proper an balanced functioning of the body is necessary to be maintained in the body. Otherwise, its deficiency provokes hazardous effects onto the body, decreasing its efficiency and functioning. moreover, many other minerals and vitamins also need zinc to be utilized properly like zinc plays an important role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to retina and thus aids in improved eyesight and vision and its deficiency would cause impaired vision and eyesight.

Zinc deficiency would cause

  •  Neurosensory disorders
  •  Mental lethargy
  •  Neuropsychiatric disorders
  •  Neurotransmitting disorders
  •  Thymic atrophy
  •  Skin Lesions
  •  Acrodermatitis
  •  Infertility
  •  Hypogonadism
  •  Retard genital development

Signs and symptoms of   zinc deficiency

Mild to severe zinc deficiency is more common or you can say, children , adolescents, pregnant and lactating women are at a higher risk of its deficiency.

Zinc deficiency signs and symptoms include

  •  Dermatitis
  •  Inflammatory acne
  •  Reduced wound healing
  •  Whitish spots  on nails
  •  Hair loss issues
  •  Hair thinning
  •  Hair loss
  •  Hair corkscrew and coiling
  •  Night blindness
  •  Slow and stunted growth
  •  Late puberty and sexual development
  •  Poor sperm production
  •  Reduced fertility both in men and women
  •  Impaired enzyme function
  •  Neurotransmitter impairment causing depression
  •  Irritability
  •  Lethargy
  •  Poor focusing
  •  Weakened immune system
  •  Weakened antioxidant mechanism
  •  Poor resistance to  environmental pollutants and radiations
  •  Lipid peroxidation got increased
  •  Increased infections rate
  •  Increased cold flu and UTI ’S

Absorption of zinc

Zinc is mainly absorbed in the duodenum and ileum. Zinc can be more bioavailable from the water we drink rather than any food we consume.

Zinc absorption from plant sources is usually low often about  ( 10 – 14 % ). Approximately 33 % zinc is absorbed from foods in body but this absorption varies from ( 5 %  – 48 % ) depending upon the calcium, fiber and phytate content remember that all these decreases the bioavailability of zinc.

Phytates which are present in most of the foods like legumes, cereals, and bread and inhibit the absorption of zinc and iron.

Malabsorption of zinc occurs in a variety of digestive disorders including pancreatic insufficiency, inflammatory bowel disease, and even chronic diarrhea.  The rarely inherited disorder acrodermatitisenteropathica is characterized by improved zinc absorption and profound zinc deficiency.

Few factors affecting zinc absorption includes

  • High dose calcium supplements may increase zinc loss.
  • Heavy consumption of alcoholic reduces absorption and increases the loss of zinc.
  • Liver and kidney disease increases zinc requirement
  • Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus increase urinary zinc loss and can lead to deficiency.
  • Chronic infection or inflammatory disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis ) increase zinc requirement.

Organically  bound forms of zinc :

Zinc is mostly present in organically bound form like zinc gluconate, orientate, protein hydrolysate and chelated forms. These forms have generally greater bioavailability than zinc sulfate .under stress conditions redistribution of zinc occurs.

Author’s Note:

My name is Bushra Shahid. I have done my graduation in food science and technology and now  I am exploring the world of food to crave a path to a healthy and energetic lifestyle because ‘’a healthy food is necessary for a wealthy mood’’.

Goodluck- Team Nutrition Lab

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16 Comments

  1. well written article!i consume lentils, brocolli, and spinaach in veg, and apricots , dates and strawberries in fruits .

  2. Wow! Had no idea before about the importance of zinc ? thanks for sharing ? very well written easy and understand able ?

  3. Wow!!!Such an awesome article . Just came to know the countless benefits of zinc . Well written article and keep posting such amazing stuff . Thank you!

  4. By going through the diseases,one can realize the vital role that zinc is playing in our lives! Very informative and well written article. Good job!?

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