Foods high in zinc

Zinc has recently become a hot topic as it has been seen as an important health supplement in the fight against the coronavirus COVID-19.

In fact, zinc lozenges were recommended by Dr. James Robb specifically for the COVID-19 pandemic, as they have been shown to help inhibit the replication of viruses (including coronaviruses) in the nasopharynx and throat.

Three weeks ago, I went into my local drugstore to stock up on zinc and to my surprise not a single bottle remained.

What happened? Had zinc suddenly become the craze item that will be out of stock for the next 2 months — much like toilet paper?

Not to worry.

If you’re looking to add more zinc to your diet, there are plenty of natural sources of zinc outside of supplementation.

Tasty options that include oysters at the top of the list. And if you’re vegan, wheat germ isn’t a bad option either, containing more than your daily requirement at 18.83 mg per serving.

My nutritional data analysis for zinc

I conducted an in-depth analysis of the USDA FoodData Central nutritional database[1] in order to determine which out of over 328,000 foods were the highest in zinc.

The chart below is a direct result of my findings.

The top 10 foods highest in zinc

These are the the top 10 foods highest in zinc, ranked highest to lowest by zinc amount per serving.

Rank Food Serving Size Zinc Per Serving (mg) Zinc Per 100 g
1 Oysters CannedCooked, moist heat 3 oz (85 g) 77.307566.81 90.9578.6
2 Beef chuck roast (trimmed to 0" fat) 1 piece, cooked, excluding bones, etc (yield from 1 lb raw meat) (235 g) 20.163 8.58
3 Wheat germ, plain 1 cup (113 g) 18.8371 16.67
4 Beef tenderloin roast, boneless (trimmed to 0" fat) 1 roast cooked, roasted (462 g) 17.094 3.7
5 T-bone steak, bone-in (trimmed to 1/8" fat) 1 steak cooked, grilled (360 g) 16.884 4.69
6 Turkey back 1 back cooked (bone removed) (524 g) 16.1392 3.08
7 Baked beans 1 cup (253 g) 13.8644 5.48
8 Turkey breast 1 breast, cooked, roasted (863 g) 13.1176 1.52
9 Sesame seeds 1 cup (128 g) 13.0944 10.23
10 Lamb foreshank (trimmed to 1/4" fat) 1 piece, cooked, braised excluding bones, etc (yield from 1 lb raw meat) (148 g) 11.3812 7.69

What is zinc?

Zinc is a trace mineral, an inorganic compound which promotes a healthy immune system, taste function, skin and eye health, as well as plays a role in male fertility.

Why is zinc important?

A zinc deficiency may cause loss of taste or appetite, and signs of inadequate zinc intake include (but are not limited to) white spots on nails.

How much zinc do I need per day?

11 mg[2][3]

What about zinc supplementation?

I take a zinc supplement periodically for general male fertility health, and to boost my immune system whenever I feel myself coming down with something.

This is a picture I took of the brand I’m currently using in my supplementation stack:

You can buy it from Amazon.

When should I take a zinc supplement?

I prefer taking zinc at night, because I’ve felt woozy more than once while taking it during the day.

This is not to say you should take it at night, but rather to encourage you to figure out what works best for you.


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019.
  2. Riebe, Nicholas J. (2018). Foodalytics: A Data-Driven Approach To Discovering The Healthiest Foods. (pp 24-25). Minneapolis, MN: HaleGenic Publishing.
  3. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. “Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Elements.” Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Ed. Catherine A. Ross, Christine L. Taylor, Ann L. Yaktine, et al. National Academies Press, 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.

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