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Zinc profile, daily requirement, food and more

Zinc - profile, daily requirement & more

Want to know more about zinc? Then you'll find it here! I'll explain the most important details about this essential trace element. We start with a profile and then continue with absorption, daily requirements, physiological importance, overdosing, deficiency symptoms and the foods containing the most zinc. I have also summarized information for vegans and vegetarians and which food supplements can be useful.

Here is in advance a short Overview for you:

  1. Profile
  2. Recording
  3. Daily requirement
  4. Meaning
  5. Overdose
  6. Deficiency
  7. Foods
  8. Vegan
  9. Food supplement

Notice: This article is not a substitute for medical advice, but merely provides general information about zinc. Please consult your doctor if you feel unwell or want to prevent health problems with medical care.

Zinc PROFILE at a glance

Assignment: Essential trace element, element category transition metals
Important for: Protein synthesis, wound healing, insulin storage, strengthening the immune system
Daily requirement: 11-16 mg/day (m), 7-10 mg/day (w) from 19 years of age.1
Recording: through food intake or dietary supplements
Overdose: Upper Limit (UL): from 25-40 mg/day2,3
Deficiency symptoms: including growth disorders (children and adolescents), hair loss, skin changes, weakened immune system
Food: Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseed, oat flakes, peanuts
Food supplement: As drops, capsules, powder or (effervescent) tablets

How to absorb zinc?

Zinc intake through oatmeal

Zinc is required for numerous processes in the body and is a co-factor in the formation of over 300 enzymes. Zinc is therefore involved in more enzyme processes than all other trace elements combined. For optimal absorption, you should pay attention to a few things, as there are both beneficial and inhibiting factors.

The absorption of zinc is mainly Inhibited by phytic acid.4 Other inhibitors include polyphenols, calcium and other divalent cations, and some drugs. Therefore the Zinc absorption is promoted when food is prepared in such a way that the phytic acid is broken down. You can achieve this by soaking, sprouting, heating or fermenting food. A high protein intake also has a positive effect on zinc absorption. If you combine zinc with organic acids, the absorption also increases.5

Examples of organic acids are:

  • Citric acid from fruit such as raspberries or oranges,
  • Malic acid from fruits such as plums or blueberries,
  • Lactic acid from fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sourdough bread or (soy) yogurt

Similar to Iron the body is also able to increase the absorption of zinc if too little zinc is supplied to the body.

What is the daily requirement of zinc?

The daily requirement of zinc depends strongly on the phytate content of the foodwhich is why the DGE reference values are divided into low, medium and high phytate intake. As most people have difficulty estimating their phytic acid intake, I recommend the preparation methods mentioned above to reduce phytic acid.

For adult men, the daily requirement is between 11 and 16 mg/day. And adult women need between 7 and 11 mg/day.1 The following table shows the reference values in mg for the daily zinc intake of children and adolescents.

Children and teenagersMalefemale
1 to under 4 years33
4 to under 7 years44
7 to under 10 years66
10 to under 13 years98
13 to under 15 years1210
15 to under 19 years1411
Reference values in mg for the daily zinc intake of children and adolescents1

What functions does zinc have in the body?

As already mentioned, zinc is the trace element that is involved in by far the most Enzyme systems is involved. Furthermore, it is important for the Insulin storage or the regulation of blood glucose levels, the Wound healing and the Protein synthesis. In men, the trace element also supports the Sperm formation.6 Zinc is also particularly important for a well-functioning Immune system.7

Here is an overview of all the functions:

  • Co-factor in the enzyme system
  • Blood glucose regulation
  • Wound healing
  • Protein synthesis
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Sperm formation

Is an overdose of zinc possible?

A corresponding overdose through the diet is Extremely unlikely. However, it is possible to ingest too much zinc through overuse of supplements. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and headaches.3

Causes and symptoms of zinc deficiency

The likelihood of suffering from a severe zinc deficiency is unlikely with a balanced, energy-rich diet. Alcoholics are particularly at risk because their zinc absorption is inhibited.

Potential deficiency symptoms depend on the age and sex of the person concerned. In children and adolescents Growth disorders occur. Other symptoms are Hair loss, skin changes, night blindness and disorders of the sense of smell and taste. Since zinc also affects the Wound healing and the Immune system can also weaken them. Men can benefit from a impaired spermatogenesis be affected.8

Particularly at risk: Alcoholic.

What foods contain zinc?

After all this information, you're probably already curious about which foods contain particularly high levels of zinc. Basically, the nutrient is mainly found in meat and cheese. However, as I have opted for a plant-based diet for ethical, ecological and health reasons, I prefer the following, plant sources of zinc:

  • Wheat Germ (18 mg per 100 gram)
  • Poppy (8.1 mg per 100 gram)
  • Sesame (7.7 mg per 100 gram)
  • Pumpkin seeds (6.5 mg per 100 gram)
  • Flaxseed (5.5 mg per 100 gram)
  • Oatmeal (4.2 mg per 100 gram)

Zinc supply with a vegan diet

According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), zinc is defined as a potentially critical nutrient in a plant-based diet.9 One reason for this is that meat and cheese are particularly good sources of zinc. With a a balanced plant-based dietwhich contains seeds and nuts, you can cover your zinc requirements.

Find the right zinc supplement

Zinc supplements come in many different forms, such as. Drops, capsules, (effervescent) tablets or powder. At the same time, there are also multi-nutrient preparations or dietary supplements that only contain zinc. You should therefore consider whether you want to cover several nutrients with one preparation or supplement just one nutrient in particular.

If you decide to take a zinc supplement, it may be useful to take the Coordinate nutritional supplements with your family doctorto avoid an overdose. If supplementation is advisable, the following preparations in drop, tablet, powder or capsule form are recommended.

Vegan multi-nutrient capsules: you get here*

Immune capsules with zinc, vitamin C, selenium and iron you get here*

Cover zinc supply safely

As you have read, there are factors that inhibit or promote zinc absorption. With a plant-based diet, it can be helpful to avoid the inhibiting factors and make use of the promoting ones. If you eat a balanced diet, you can prevent deficiency symptoms. And if you also exercise regularly and Spend time in the fresh airthese measures can also help many Prevent diseases.

Do you have any questions or suggestions about this article on zinc? Then please write me a comment.

All the best,

Julian from CareElite

PS: You're interested in it, why we live vegan? You can read our reasons in the linked article! And if you want to know more about nutrients, take a look at the article about Vitamin B12.


1 German Society for Nutrition e. V.: Zinc,, [20.05.2021].

2 European Food Safety Authority: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for Vitamins and Minerals,, [20.05.2021].

3 National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals,, [05/20/2021].

4 C. L. Adams, M. Hambidge, V. Raboy, J. A. Dorsch, L. Sian, J. L. Westcott, N. F. Krebs: Zinc absorption from a low-phytic acid maize,, [20.05.2021].

5 B. Lönnerdal: Dietary factors inlfuencing zinc absorption, in: The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 130, Issue 5,, [20 May 2021].

6 S. Schrör: Zinc: Effect and daily requirement, [20.05.2021].

7 Haase, Hajo; Rink, Lothar (2014): Multiple impacts of zinc on immune function. In: Metallomics : integrated biometal science 6 (7), pp. 1175-1180. DOI: 10.1039/c3mt00353a, [20.05.2021]. 

8 S. Schrör: Zinc deficiency,, [20.05.2021].

9 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: Supplement to the position of the German Nutrition Society regarding population groups with special nutritional needs,, [20.05.2021].

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Julian Hölzer

Julian Hölzer

Hi, my name is Julian and I am a trained vegan nutritionist. In 2016 I started to get involved with veganism and quickly learned how big an impact our diet has on the environment and how diverse plant-based diets can be. That's why I want to inspire you to get involved with veganism too.

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