healthy nutrition

Foods Containing Zinc – Diet Tips & Food List

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As you know, there are quite a few vitamins, nutrients and trace elements that are important for our body and that are absorbed thanks to various foods. This also includes zinc. In this article we would like to explain to you what function this trace element has in our organism and in which foods it occurs. You will also find out the daily zinc requirement and the typical symptoms of zinc deficiency and an overdose. Just read on and you will find rich foods in the table with which you can make your diet more balanced.

Foods containing zinc – what is zinc used for?

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Zinc has a much greater positive impact on our bodies than some might believe. In general, the element is important for our metabolism and if it runs well it naturally affects many other things. On the one hand, it strengthens the immune system and the body’s defenses. Of course, this ensures that we are better protected against diseases and that we get better faster if we have a cold. Growth is also influenced by the zinc balance. This is what makes the element so important during the growth phases of childhood and adolescence.

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The skin also needs foods that contain zinc, as this improves wound healing. So the skin copes with this task much better. The trace element improves the complexion by having an anti-inflammatory effect and helping with acne, psoriasis and neurodermatitis. Not only inflammation of the skin is inhibited by sufficient zinc in the body, but also of the stomach and intestinal mucosa. The storage of insulin, protein synthesis and the production of sperm are also heavily dependent on the zinc balance.

How much zinc a day is ideal and allowed?

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The daily zinc requirement depends mainly on gender. Women need 7 milligrams a day, while men should consume as much as 10 milligrams a day. But one shouldn’t think that more also means better at the same time. Because if you overdo it, you cause side effects that can even lead to poisoning. The recommended daily requirement should therefore not be exceeded. Below we have summarized the symptoms of zinc deficiency and then the signs of a zinc overdose. First of all, here are the needs for children depending on their age, which can be achieved with the help of zinc-containing foods:

  • Infants up to 4 months – 1 mg
  • Infants from 4 to less than 12 months – 2 mg
  • 1 to under 4 years – 3 mg
  • 4 to under 7 years – 5 mg
  • 7 to under 10 years – 7 mg
  • Girls 10 to under 13 years old – 7 mg
  • Boys 10 to under 13 years old – 9 mg
  • Girls 13 to under 15 years – 7 mg
  • Boys 13 to under 15 years old – 9.5 mg

Zinc deficiency signs


With all the positive effects, it is only logical that a deficiency in turn has many disadvantages. This leads to growth retardation and even diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver can be consequences of the deficiency. In principle, the opposite of what was explained above in the function follows. Zinc deficiency occurs when the recommended daily requirement is not adhered to over a long period of time.

Certain groups of people in particular are more often affected. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, because they have an increased need for zinc-containing foods. The same applies to athletes, as they in turn use up the zinc content more quickly due to the increased performance and therefore have to do more to take it up again.


It is not unknown that vegetarians and vegans should pay special attention to their vitamin and nutrient balance. Although people in this group have zinc-containing foods on their menu, they also consume more so-called phytic acid, which ensures that zinc can no longer be absorbed well by the body. Last but not least, older people should also be mentioned. They pay less attention to their diet, which is now insufficiently balanced for various reasons (be it loss of appetite or dental problems).


Some typical phenomena can be found in the following list:

  • cracked and dry skin
  • brittle hair up to hair loss
  • brittle nails
  • Skin inflammation and slower healing of wounds
  • Night blindness
  • Loss of appetite
  • impotence
  • weakened immune system
  • reduced performance, tiredness, difficulty concentrating
  • depressions

Zinc Poisoning Symptoms

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However, if you overdo it, you will of course have an excess of zinc, which can be pretty uncomfortable. However, this can hardly happen through the usual diet. Only those who take additional food supplements risk an overdose. Only in earlier times, when food was still stored in containers containing zinc, did poisoning occur frequently. Otherwise, the trace element is also not considered to be particularly toxic. Should an overdose occur, most of the time diarrhea, nausea or even vomiting will occur. When you inhale zinc (and also other metals) the so-called pouring fever or metal fever follows.

Where is zinc contained?


Many of the foods we like to eat every day contain zinc. This includes cheese, flakes and also the exotic Brazil nuts. We have compiled some foods with zinc in the following table together with the number of mg.

Zinc-containing foods – table as an overview

Food mg zinc / 100 g
Emmentaler 4.6
Camembert 2.7
Butter cheese 3.5-4
Beans 2.6
peanuts 3.0-3.5
Walnuts 2.7
Brazil nuts 4th
oatmeal 4.0-4.5
beef 4.4
liver up to 6.3
lamb 2.6 – 6
fish 0.4-1.1
chicken 1.0
Whole milk 0.4
yogurt 0.3-0.5
Corn 2.5-3.5
Mixed wheat bread 3.5
crispbread 3.1
Whole grain biscuits 2.7
Whole wheat pasta 3.0
Pasta 3.1
rice 1.7
Chicken egg 1.35
Dark chocolate 2.1
shrimp 2.3

All in all, you don’t have to worry about a deficiency as long as you eat a balanced and varied diet. If you still want to be sure, you can get advice from a doctor. He will certainly be able to recommend a specialist to you. If the symptoms mentioned above occur (regardless of whether they are due to a deficiency or an overdose), it is best to consult a doctor immediately. A blood sample can then be used to determine what you are lacking. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a zinc deficiency. Symptoms like this occur due to numerous other causes and should therefore be investigated as soon as possible.