ZINC – Why You Need it and How Much is Necessary?

by Margaret Stoklosa

Zinc is a necessary co-factor for many bodily processes and systems.  Protein synthesis, immune functioning, visual acuity, taste sensations, and sexual development all need zinc as a backbone. Diseases of the digestive tract (e.g., Crohn’s, Celiac) as well as procedures such as gastric bypass impact zinc absorption and zinc status. Deficiency can manifest as: depression, anemia, diarrhea, dermatitis, night blindness, anorexia, susceptibility to infections, and taste abnormalities. Zinc is also required for the proper conversion of thyroid hormone to its active form. Clinically, zinc deficiency can appear as white spots on fingernails, decreased alkaline phosphatase values, or poor wound healing. 

Some individuals require larger zinc amounts due to genetic predisposition or zinc-depleting medications (e.g. Phentermine, prednisone, birth control, thiazide diuretics). The richest food source of zinc is oysters with some meats, whole grains and legumes providing an acceptable amount. 


Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation 
Until 6 months 2mg 2mg   
7-12 months 3mg 3mg   
1-3 years 3mg 3mg   
4-8 years 5mg 5mg   
9-13 years 8mg 8mg   
14-18 years 11mg 9mg 12mg 13mg 
19+ 11mg 8mg 11mg 12mg 

How to get to 10mg daily 


  • Greek yogurt, 6oz – 1.0mg 
  • Pumpkin seeds, 1oz – 2.2mg 
  • Blueberries, 1/2cup – 0.1mg 
  • Peanuts, 1oz – 0.8mg 
  • Zinc: 4.1mg 


  • Lentils, 1.2cup – 1.3mg 
  • Egg, large – 0.6mg 
  • Romaine, 1 outer leaf – 0.06mg 
  • Cherry Tomatoes, 1.2cup – 0.1mg 
  • Zinc: 2.06mg 


  • Turkey breast, 3oz- 1.5mg 
  • Cheddar cheese, 1.5oz – 1.5mg 
  • Broccoli, 1.2cup – 0.4mg 
  • Mushrooms, Portabella, 1.2cup – 0.4mg 
  • Zinc: 3.8mg 

Good Sources of Zinc 

  • Oysters, Eastern, farmed, raw, 3 ounces -32mg 
  • Oysters, Pacific, cooked, 3 ounces -28.2mg 
  • Beef, bottom sirloin, roasted, 3 ounces -3.8mg 
  • Blue crab, cooked, 3 ounces -3.2mg 
  • Cereals, oats, regular and quick, unenriched, cooked with water, 1 cup -2.3mg 
  • Pumpkin seeds, roasted, 1 ounce -2.2mg 
  • Pork, center loin (chops), bone-in, broiled, 3 ounces -1.9mg 
  • Turkey breast, meat only, roasted, 3 ounces -1.5mg 
  • Cheese, cheddar, 1.5 ounces -1.5mg 
  • Shrimp, cooked, 3 ounces -1.4mg 
  • Lentils, boiled, ½ cup -1.3mg 
  • Sardines, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 ounces -1.1mg 
  • Greek yogurt, plain, 6 ounces -1.0mg 
  • Milk, 1% milkfat, 1 cup -1.0mg 
  • Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce -0.8mg 
  • Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked, ½ cup -0.7mg 
  • Egg, large, 1 egg -0.6mg 
  • Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup -0.6mg 
  • Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice -0.6mg 
  • Fish, salmon, cooked, 3 ounces -0.5mg 
  • Broccoli, chopped, cooked, ½ cup -0.4mg 
  • Cherry tomatoes, raw, ½ cup -0.1mg 
  • Blueberries, raw, ½ cup -0.1mg 




I hope that you find these suggestions helpful, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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