Zinc is a trace mineral - needed in only small amounts by our bodies but with many important functions. Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite, poor growth, loss of hair, a poorly functioning immune system (leading to constant illness), poor wound healing and changes in taste sensation.

How much zinc do we need?

Age (years)

Zinc (mg/day)

Infants 7-12 months 3
Children 1-3 3
  4-8 4
  9-13 6
Boys 14-18 13
´╗┐´╗┐Girls 14-18 7
Men 19-70+ 14
Women 19-70+ 8
Pregnant women 14-18 10
  19-50 11
Breastfeeding women 14-18 11
  19-50 12
 *Recommended Daily Intake

Who needs more and why?

Teenagers need more zinc to help with their growth and development.
Vegetarians. The absorption of zinc, and iron, is lower in vegetarian diets because vegetarians eat more legumes and wholegrains (these contain phytates, which reduce zinc absorption) while avoiding meat (which is a source of zinc).

Which foods contain zinc?

Zinc is found in seafood (especially oysters), lean red meat, chicken, wholegrain cereals, beans, lentils and seeds, and dairy products.

Zinc content of foods

Foods rich in Zinc Zinc (mg)
1 raw oyster 1.5
1 cup smoked mussels 4.1
1 grilled rump steak 8.0
1 roast chicken breast 1.9
1 wholegrain bread roll 0.8
1 cup cooked chickpeas 1.4
10 roasted peanuts 1.2
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds 1.1
1/4 cup edam cheese 1.0
1 cup reduced fat milk 1.0


Tips to increase your zinc intake

To increase your zinc intake try:

  • adding beans to salads or casseroles
  • yoghurt as a snack
  • including roast beef in your wholegrain sandwich at lunchtime.

Concerned about your zinc intake?

If you are concerned about your intake of zinc, please discuss it with your doctor.