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7 Natural Ways to Add More Zinc to Your Diet (and Why You Should Care)
Why Zinc Matters
Zinc is a powerful micronutrient that's essential for immunity, cell growth and division, wound healing, and immune function. One recent study found that even a slight deficiency in zinc can affect your digestion. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc is 8mg/day for women (11mg/day for men) and a tolerable upper intake level (UI), which is essentially your maximum amount of any nutrient before it can pose a threat, is 40mg/day. You can get the proper zinc each day by incorporating zinc-boosting superfoods into your diet. But don't try to get zinc by popping a supplement. Non-food zinc supplements can actually be toxic! But rest easy, knowing zinc from food sources is nontoxic!
Food Faith Fitness
Animal Protein: Beef, Pork, and Lamb
Animal proteins are some of the best sources of zinc. Keep portion and calories in check but choosing lean beef, poultry, pork, or lamb. A 3-ounce serving of beef steak provides nearly 4.9mg of zinc, a pork chop of the same size has 2.8mg, and 3 ounces of lamb comes in just under 5.5mg. Enjoy these lean meats and get a hefty dose of zinc with this Moroccan-Style Paleo Pork Chop with Asian Noodles, a Broccoli Stir-Fry, or Curry Braised Lamb with Chickpeas.
Jenny Shea Rawn
Crustaceans: Crab and Lobster
Crustaceans are king when it comes to zinc! Did you know a 3.5-ounce serving of lobster has 7.27mg of zinc, while cooked crab offers roughly 4.27mg? Another excuse to dig into that fresh summer catch of the day. Get your seafood fix with these recipes for Lobster Bisque, Skinny Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, and Lobster Mac and Cheese.
The Foodie Physician
Mollusks: Clams and Oysters
Not far behind the crustaceans are the mollusks of the seafood family. Three ounces of oysters provide more than 67mg of zinc, while clams give you 2.32mg. Oyster happy hour anymore? You can also make amazing dishes at home like this Linguine with Clams and Oysters Rockefeller. You'll be surprised just how easy it can be.
Sara Haas, R.D.N., L.D.N.
Seeds: Pumpkin and Sunflower
Vegetarians, you can get your zinc by munching on pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. One ounce of pumpkin seeds delivers 2.13mg of zinc, and 2 tablespoons of sunflower seed butter (swipe it on multi-grain toast!) have 1.56mg. Start the morning off with a delicious Pumpkin Spice Muffin with Pepita Streusel or a creative Sunflower Seed Butter and Strawberry Wafflewich.
Shaw's Simple Swaps
Garden Produce: Mushrooms and Spinach
Mushrooms are full of nutrient-rich vitamins and minerals. A cup of cooked white mushrooms provides 1.4mg of zinc, which is exactly how much you also get from a cup of cooked spinach. Pump up the nutrition with these two zinc-friendly recipes: Sautéed Serrano Mushrooms and Heirloom Bean and Spinach Soup.
Cans Get You Cooking
Canned Beans: Chickpeas and Kidney
Adding more zinc to your diet can be as easy as opening up your pantry and grabbing a can opener. Canned beans, such as chickpeas and kidney beans, contain up to 2.5mg of zinc per cup. Top a salad with canned beans, mash them up and make a hummus, or use them in your next batch of Vegetarian Three Bean Chili.