Even though you only need 8 to 11 milligrams of zinc daily, the consequences of consuming insufficient quantities of this essential trace mineral can cause a wide range of deficiency symptoms. Some of these include loss of appetite and hair, poor wound healing, acne, absence of menstrual periods, night blindness and even depression. While zinc is present in many foods, some substances in your diet may decrease its absorption.
Include protein and zinc-rich foods such as oysters, crabs, beef, pork, poultry, milk, cheese and yogurt in your meals. Zinc is readily absorbed from these sources due to their high protein content and the presence of cysteine and methionine, two amino acids that enhance zinc absorption. (Ref 3)
Increase the amount of animal-based protein in your meals. Include meat on your plate of vegetables and foods with a high phytate content such as corn, cereals, rice and legumes. The higher animal-protein content of your meal increases absorption of zinc from plant-based foods as well.
Eat yeast-levened whole-grain breads. Enzymes present in yeast lower the amount of phytic acid in whole-grain flour, which in turn improves absorption of zinc.
Munch on a handful of nuts. Almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts or cashews provide a good afternoon or mid-morning snack. In addition, the high protein content of these nuts increases absorption of zinc that is naturally present in them. Similarly, zinc absorption is high from protein- and zinc-rich beans such as kidney, pinto and garbanzo beans.
Consume fermented soy foods, include miso and tempeh. Fermentation increases the bioavailability of zinc.
- Vegan diets contain high amounts of phytic acid, which reduces absorption of zinc. In such cases, your doctor may recommend zinc supplements to meet your needs for zinc.