Vegan For Life
by Jack Norris, RD &
Ginny Messina, MPH, RD
|Table 1. Zinc Dietary Reference Intake (mg)4|
|0 - 6 mos||2||2|
|7 - 12 mos||3||3|
|1 - 3 yrs||3||3|
|4 - 8 yrs||5||5|
|9 - 13 yrs||8||8|
|14 - 18 yrs||11||9||13||14|
Zinc is not found in large amounts in plant foods, but vegetarians tend to have adequate zinc status. The best, common plant sources of zinc are legumes, nuts, seeds, and oatmeal. Table 2 shows the zinc content of selected plant foods.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include poor growth and delayed sexual maturation in children, poor wound healing, hair loss, impaired immune function, and dermatitis (especially around body orifices) (1).
Protein increases zinc absorption. Because of this, foods high in protein and zinc, such as legumes and nuts, are good choices (2). The leavening of bread (most bread is leavened) and fermenting of soyfoods (tempeh and miso) also enhances zinc absorption (2).
There is some concern that factors in a vegetarian or vegan diet can reduce zinc absorption, increasing needs for vegetarians by up to 50% (5). A modest zinc supplement of 50 to 100% of the RDA should be safe for those who are concerned. Zinc supplementation can reduce copper absorption, so it is best to keep zinc supplementation moderate over the long term.
|Table 2. Zinc in Plant Foods3|
|Tofu||firm, raw||1/2 cup||2.0|
|Garbanzo beans||boiled||1/2 cup||1.3|
|Pinto beans||boiled||1/2 cup||0.8|
|Kidney beans||boiled||1/2 cup||1.0|
|Peanut butter||2 tbsp||0.9|
|Sunflower seeds||roasted||1/4 cup||1.7|
|Corn||yellow, boiled||1 cup||0.9|
|Cashews||dry roasted||1/4 cup||1.9|
|Chia seeds||dried||1 oz||1.0|
|Broccoli||boiled, chopped||1/2 cup||0.4|
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. (Link)
4. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Zinc. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. Accessed 12/15/2010. (Link)
5. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc (2001) Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Accessed 12/28/2010. (Link)