Young women's version of this guide

What is zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that is important for your immune system. Zinc is also needed for wound healing and normal growth and development.

How much zinc do I need?

Because your body cannot make zinc, you must get it through your diet. The amount of zinc you need daily, or the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), depends on your age and gender. Girls age 9 to 13 years old need 8 milligrams of zinc each day. Girls age 14 to 18 years old need 9 milligrams each day.

What are some good sources of zinc?

There are many different foods that have zinc. Oysters contain the most zinc, but red meat and poultry are the most commonly eaten sources of zinc. Zinc is also found in:

  • Dairy products
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Legumes
  • Meat, poultry, and shellfish
  • Soy foods
  • Whole grains

The tables below list some foods that are rich in zinc.

Dairy FoodsServing Milligrams of zinc per serving
Yogurt, plain, lowfat1 cup2.2
Ricotta Cheese, part skim½ cup1.7
1% Milk1 cup1.0
Cheddar Cheese1 ounce1.0
Grains and CerealsServingMilligrams of zinc per serving
Brown rice, cooked, long grain½ cup0.7
Cheerios® cereal1 cup4.7
Life® cereal3/4 cup4.4
Wheat germ1 tbsp0.8
LegumesServingMilligrams of zinc per serving
Chickpeas½ cup1.3
Lentils½ cup1.3
Lima beans½ cup0.8
Meat, Poultry, Shellfish, and EggsServing Milligrams of zinc per serving
Chicken breast3 ounces0.8
Egg, large1 egg0.6
Hamburger, 95% lean3 ounces5.5
Shrimp6 large1.6
Sirloin steak3 ounces4.5
Turkey3 ounces1.8
Oysters3 oysters16.5
Soy FoodsServing Milligrams of zinc per serving
Soybeans½ cup0.8
Tempeh½ cup1.3
Tofu, firm½ cup1.1