Getting enough foods high in zinc is essential for many functions in the body to work as they should. Zinc is one of those minerals responsible for almost everything, from protein synthesis to cellular metabolism, as well as hormone and energy regulation. A powerful antioxidant, zinc is directly related to cell division, wound healing, thyroid regulation, maintaining good vision and even increased libido. Zinc also plays a major role in healthy hair growth, as the growing of our hair depends on normal cell reproduction.
Depending on your age, various life cycles and events (such as pregnancy, lactation, and vegetarianism) the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of zinc can vary from 2 mg to 13 mg, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Since your overall health DOES make a difference; what goes on inside your body reflects on the outside, especially when it comes to your hair.
Why Do Vegetarians Need to Increase Zinc Consumption?
Many grain and plant-based foods contain a substance, called phylates which causes the zinc to bind, making absorption less efficient and decreasing the bioavailability, says the Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Since the body can’t store zinc, it’s necessary to keep up with it on a daily basis.
The Best Foods High in Zinc
If you are suffering from zinc deficiency or just want to make sure you get enough every day, you can try incorporating some of these foods high in zinc into your diet.
Although most fish, including crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops and salmon, contain zinc, the oyster is really king. Just six medium ones will give you more than 400% of your RDA! They’re versatile, too—you can eat them cooked, breaded or canned. Oh, and it’s the high zinc levels that make oysters increase the libido. Oysters also have Vitamin C (a good antioxidant), B-12, iron and selenium.
Meat and Poultry
After oysters, this is the next best thing. Just 3 ounces of beef will give you 7 grams! As for poultry, the dark meat has a little more than the white.
Such as chickpeas and lentils, aren’t just packed with zinc, but also with vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you use chickpeas, combine them with sesame seeds, another high-zinc food, to make hummus—and the count is almost 7 grams. Eaten alone, chickpeas and lentils are about 4 grams.
Just one cup of shitake or crimini will give you 9% and 7%, respectively, of the RDA. Don’t let these little guys fool you—they pack a powerful punch when it comes to healing properties. In fact, one study revealed that shitake mushrooms were found to increase immune system function.
One cup of raw spinach contains about 0.16 grams of zinc, while a cup of this cooked veggie has a little more than 1.30. What’s more, this green, leafy vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and is credited for everything from increasing circulation to fighting depression.
One cup of quinoa contains 185 grams, or 13% of the RDA of zinc. Quinoa is often referred to as a grain because it’s cooked in a similar manner, but it really a seed that is much more closely related to spinach, chard and beets. Quinoa is packed with nutrients and it contains all 9 essential amino acids that are the building blocks of protein; in fact, ancient Inca warriors used to revere it because it gave them so much endurance. Quinoa, by the way, is gluten-free and makes a great substitute to wheat pasta.
They might be tiny, but they are huge when it comes to nutrients; just one ounces gives you more than 2 grams of zinc. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with antioxidants and minerals, can boost the immune system, aid menopausal symptoms and aid cardiovascular health.
It only takes 100 grams of pine nuts to fulfill your daily requirement of zinc. They also contain Vitamin E, a natural anti-oxidant antioxidant that fights free radicals—those rogue cells responsible for speeding up aging—and Vitamin C, another natural anti-oxidant that boosts immunity. Fun Fact: Pine nuts aren’t really nuts at all but, rather seeds, from pine trees.
Yes, you read that right! Dark chocolate—and the darker, unsweetened, the better. One hundred grams has almost 9.6 mg of zinc. Now, moderation is key, so keep it to one small, one-ounce square a day.
They contain around 10 mg of zinc per 100g serving. Remove the seeds directly from the squash and eat them raw, or dry or roasted. Actually, roast some squash and pumpkin seeds together for a super-healthy autumn treat.
Steel Cut Oats
Just ½ cup will give you 6% of your zinc RDA, while ½ cup brown rice will give you 4%.
Remember, It’s All About Nourishment!
It always circles back to nutrients. Unfortunately, with our depleted soils and pollution, the food we get is not always as nourishing as it was 50 years ago – meaning, foods high in zinc might not always contain as much of the mineral as they are supposed to. So if you are eating healthfully but still not getting your desired results, a natural supplement that supports healthy hair growth from within might be exactly what you need.