Zinc

Key Facts
  • Zinc is important for your immune system.
  • Your body can’t make zinc so you need to get it through your diet.
  • Teenage girls need about 8-9mg of zinc every day.
  • Esta guía en Español
  • Young men's version of this guide

Zinc is a mineral that is important for your immune system. Zinc is also needed for wound healing and normal growth and development.

How much zinc do I need?

Because your body cannot make zinc, you must get it through your diet. The amount of zinc you need daily, or the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), depends on your age and gender. Girls age 9 to 13 years old need 8 milligrams of zinc each day. Girls age 14 to 18 years old need 9 milligrams each day.

What are some good sources of zinc?

There are many different foods that have zinc. Oysters contain the most zinc, but red meat and poultry are the most commonly eaten sources of zinc. Zinc is also found in:

  • Dairy products
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Legumes
  • Meat, poultry, and shellfish
  • Soy foods
  • Whole grains

Some foods rich in zinc are listed below:

Food Serving Milligrams (mg) of zinc per serving
Dairy Foods
Yogurt, plain, low-fat 1 cup 1.78
Ricotta cheese, part skim 1/2 cup 1.34
1% milk 1 cup 0.86
Cheddar cheese 1 ounce 1.0
Grains and Cereals
Brown rice, cooked, long grain 1/2 cup 0.7
Cheerios® cereal 1/2 cup 13.4
Life® cereal 1/2 cup 5.8
Wheat germ 1 Tbsp 2.4
Legumes
Chickpeas 1/2 cup 1.4
Lentils 1/2 cup 1.2
Lima beans 1/2 cup 0.9
Meat, Poultry, Shellfish, and Eggs
Chicken breast 3 ounces 0.8
Egg, large 1 egg 1.2
Hamburger, 95% lean 3 ounces 3.1
Shrimp 6 large 1.6
Sirloin steak 3 ounces 5.7
Turkey 3 ounces 2.8
Oysters 3 oysters 66
Soy Foods
Soybeans 1/2 cup 1.1
Tempeh 1/2 cup 1.1
Tofu, firm 1/2 cup 1.6