Zinc – Great Vegan Sources

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Foods High in Zinc

Some of the best food sources of zinc are, unfortunately, not vegan. Oysters (314mg/100g dry weight) and other seafood, such as whelks (47mg/100g dry weight), are often considered aphrodisiacs and this may be connected to their high zinc content (remember what we learnt about zinc and sex?). There are, however, loads of plant-based zinc-rich foods and these have the added bonus of generally avoiding the potential problem of heavy metal contamination that can occur with seafood (think mercury, lead, and arsenic).

Boosting Zinc Intake Naturally

A great way to boost your daily zinc intake is to simply sprinkle a little wheatgerm 16.2mg/100g dry matter) on your cereal every morning, or add it to smoothies, breads, and biscuits. Pinenuts (6.7mg/100g dry matter) are also great and are a tasty (though annoyingly expensive) snack or salad ingredient. Adzuki beans also give you a decent amount of zinc at 5.7mg/100g (dry matter). Other great vegan sources of zinc (and other minerals) include:

  • Cashews (1.6mg zinc/28g and 5.1g of protein)
  • Pumpkin seeds (2.9mg zinc/28g and 5.2g of protein)
  • Sunflower seeds (1.5mg zinc/28g and 4.8g of protein)
  • Pecans (1.4mg zinc/28g and 2.7g of protein)

Balancing Zinc and Copper

If you are going to boost your zinc levels significantly (through zinc supplements, say)then it can be a good idea to simultaneously give your copper intake a little hike too by including things like mushrooms (8.73mg/100g dry matter), tofu (1.33mg/100g dry matter)and Brazil nuts (1.81mg/100g dry matter). The brazils are also a great vegan source of selenium, but don’t eat more than about 40g/day or you might take in too much selenium!

Vegans and Zinc

Just as with other important macrominerals, magnesium for instance, it is easy enough to get sufficient amounts in the diet even when vegan. Food sources of zinc are abundant so as long as you eat a varied diet and keep an eye on inhibitors of zinc absorption you’re unlikely to develop a zinc deficiency as a vegan.

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