Importance/ Benefits of Zinc-Rich Food in Your Diet

Importance/ Benefits of Zinc-Rich Food in Your Diet

Importance/ Benefits of Zinc-Rich Food in Your Diet


Zinc is a trace element required by the body but is far more critical than we think. Did you know zinc plays a vital role in several body functions and chemical reactions and is also involved in the sense of smell and taste? Here's why you should include zinc in your daily diet! (8)

Why is Zinc Important to Your Body?

We've all heard about the importance of having a balanced diet. However, not a lot of focus is put into what should go into that balanced diet. While vitamins and proteins are important, various other nutrients should be included in your diet. Zinc is one such element. Zinc is required in minute quantities by the body for various physiological functions such as (1, 2):

  • Cell division and growth.
  • Formation of new cells, collagen fibres and other tissues required for wound healing.
  • Breaking down carbohydrates.
  • For senses of taste and smell.
  • To enable the healthy growth of the baby during pregnancy.
  • Boosts growth and development in children.
  • It improves immunity and boosts the body's immune cells to fight infections like the common cold.

What is the Recommended Intake of Zinc?

Though zinc is an essential trace mineral required by each age group, the recommended intake varies. While children below 3 years require 2 mg to 3 mg, those over 4 years require between 5 mg to 8 mg of zinc. In adolescent boys and girls, the amount of zinc is 11 mg and 9 mg, respectively. In adults, men require slightly more zinc than women. However, the zinc requirement in women increases when pregnant or lactating to 11mg and 12 mg, respectively. (2, 3, 9)

Eating a well-balanced diet is sufficient to get your required dietary zinc intake. 

Benefits of Zinc in Diet

Most nutritionists and healthcare professionals recommend consuming zinc-rich foods due to the various benefits that the mineral provides for the body's functioning.

1) Helps in Growth and Development 

Zinc plays an important role in cell growth, cell division, metabolism and reproduction (3). For this reason, this trace mineral is essential and is required for growth and development right from pregnancy to adulthood (8).

2) Keeps You Active All-Day-Long

Want to feel energetic and active all day? Adding Zinc to your diet will help you achieve that. Zinc is an antioxidant and reduces fatigue, tiredness and lethargy caused by free radical damage (2). 

3) Improves Acne

Acne affects nearly 9.4% of the world's population. (7) Sebum and oil produced by the skin glands, dirt, grime and pollutants are primary causes of acne. Zinc helps reduce inflammation related to acne and reduces the growth of acne-causing P.acnes bacteria (8). Studies also state that people with low zinc levels may have an increased risk of developing acne. (2, 3, 5)

4) Reduces Risk of Age-Related Diseases Like Acute Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Zinc reduces your risk for age-related diseases like AMD or age-related eye macular degeneration. Zinc is a known immunity booster and reduces oxidative damage by boosting the production of T-cells and natural killer cells (2, 4, 5). Getting adequate quantities of zinc also decreases the rate of infection in older adults.

5) Helps Stomach Ulcers Heal

Zinc helps in wound healing by promoting the formation of new cells, collagen and other tissues required. Collagen fibres are important for wound closure and repair, and zinc promotes this activity. Some studies state that consuming adequate quantities of zinc can quicken the healing of stomach ulcers. (2)

6) Improves Symptoms in Children With ADHD

Studies state that increasing zinc consumption in children with ADHD and deficient in the mineral can improve their symptoms and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity in these children. (2)

Foods that are Rich Sources of Zinc 

Now that you know all the ways Zinc can benefit your body, here are some food items where Zinc can be found abundantly. Your body absorbs around 20-40% of zinc found in foods. Did you know that the body more readily absorbs zinc present in animal foods than when it is found in plant foods? This is because zinc is best absorbed when your meal contains abundant proteins.

Here are some zinc-rich foods that you must include in your diet (4, 6, 10):

  • Oysters (the best sources of zinc), crab, lobsters, and other shellfish.
  • Beef
  • Poultry meat
  • Pork
  • Nuts
  • Legumes (including peanuts, lima beans, and soybeans)
  • Whole grains
  • Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Miso
  • Tofu
  • Yoghurt
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Oatmeal
  • Fortified cereals
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans

What Happens in Zinc Deficiency? 

Zinc deficiency is common in people who cannot absorb sufficient amounts of the mineral from the food. This can be due to digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease, having undergone gastrointestinal surgeries, or having chronic liver conditions. Signs, symptoms, and effects of zinc deficiency (3, 4):

  • Retardation of growth
  • Reduced immune function
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhoea and other GI symptoms
  • Weight loss

Some groups who are at risk of developing zinc deficiency are (9,10):


This is because of the limited availability of plant sources of zinc and reduced absorption compared to meat-eaters.

Pregnant and lactating women

There is an increased need for zinc during pregnancy and lactation, and not consuming adequate amounts of the mineral can result in a deficiency.


Alcohol affects your body's ability to absorb zinc and increases the elimination of the mineral, causing a deficiency.

People with sickle cell disease

Research states that nearly 44% of children with sickle cell disease have zinc deficiency due to the gap in demand and supply via diet or overall poor nutritional status.


Zinc is essential for our growth and development. The best way to get your daily zinc requirement is through diet. If you are deficient in this mineral, your physician will recommend the best way to restore its levels in your body. With several zinc-rich foods, loading up on the mineral is easy.

  1. Encyclopedia M, diet Z. Zinc in diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. 2022 [cited 16 May 2022]. Available from:
  2. Zinc Information | Mount Sinai - New York [Internet]. Mount Sinai Health System. 2022 [cited 16 May 2022]. Available from:
  3. Zinc [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2022 [cited 16 May 2022]. Available from:
  4. Office of Dietary Supplements - Zinc [Internet]. 2022 [cited 16 May 2022]. Available from:
  5. Zinc: Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources and Side Effects [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 16 May 2022]. Available from:
  6. Foods high in zinc [Internet]. 2022 [cited 16 May 2022]. Available from:
  7. A global perspective on the epidemiology of acne (cited 28th July 2022)
  8. Zinc- Uses, Side Effects and More (cited 06th September 2022)
  9. Zinc -Fact Sheet for Health Professionals (cited 06th September 2022)
  10. Zinc- The Nutrition Source (cited 06th September 2022)
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