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Maintaining Proper Zinc Vitamin Intake Levels

Zinc vitamin deficiency can cause growth retardation, loss of appetite and impaired immune function. Zinc is necessary for many physical functions, including immune function, protein synthesis and wound healing. Your body can't store zinc, so you need a minimum daily intake. Here's how you can maintain a proper daily intake of the vitamin zinc.

Recommended Daily Zinc Intakes

The National Institute of Health recommends the following minimum daily intakes of zinc:

  • From birth to 6 months of age, both males and females require 2 mg of zinc per day.
  • From 7 months to 3 years of age, 3 mg are required.
  • From 4 to 8 years of age, 5mg are required for both boys and girls.
  • From 9 to 13 years of age, both boys and girls require 8 mg of zinc vitamin daily.
  • From 14 to 18 years of age, boys require 11 mg daily and girls, 9 mg daily. Pregnant girls in this age range require 13 mg of zinc vitamin daily. Lactating girls in this age range require 14 mg of zinc daily.
  • Men age 19 and above require 11 mg of zinc daily. Women age 19 and above require 8 mg of zinc each day.
  • Pregnant women age 19 and older require 11 mg of zinc daily, while lactating women in this age range require 12 mg of zinc daily.

Getting More Zinc In Your Diet

Many foods contain zinc. Oysters contain more zinc than any food, with 76.7 mg per serving. Other good sources of dietary zinc include:

  • Beef, with 8.9 mg per three ounce serving.
  • Crab, with 6.5 mg per three ounce serving.
  • Pork shoulder, with 4.2 mg per three ounce serving.
  • Breakfast cereals are also often fortified with zinc; most contain about 3.8 mg per 3/4 cup serving.

Zinc is also found in foods such as:

  • lobster
  • baked beans
  • cashews 
  • yogurt

However, grains and plant foods, as a rule, contain less zinc than do foods from animal sources. If your diet contains little or no meat, you'll need to make up for that by eating lots of dairy products.

Other Sources of Zinc

You can get the vitamin zinc from a dietary supplement. Many dietary supplements contain several forms of zinc, such as zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate and zinc acetate. Many supplements contain elemental zinc in addition to the vitamin zinc.

Zinc is also present in over the counter cold remedies, especially lozenges, nasal sprays and gels.

Risk Factors For Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is uncommon in North America. Most children, infants and adults in the United States get plenty of zinc in their diets. The elderly, however, are often at risk for low dietary zinc levels, simply because they can't afford the healthy food they need.

Gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn's disease, can decrease zinc vitamin absorption. Liver disease, renal disease, diabetes and other diseases can lead to zinc loss.

Vegetarians and vegans are at risk for low zinc levels because they don't eat meat, which is rich in zinc. Vegetarians should soak beans, seeds and grains before cooking, then allow them to sprout; this breaks down the phytates that can inhibit absorption of the zinc in these foods.

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