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Zinc supports a good immune system, wound healing and normal growth and development at all ages. It is a mineral that you only need a small amount of each day to be healthy.



Zinc is found in a wide range of foods. Good food sources of zinc are high protein foods such as:

  • seafood,
  • meat, fish and poultry,
  • dairy foods,
  • tofu, and
  • nuts, seeds and legumes.


In general, your body is able to absorb zinc better if your diet contains meat or other animal products. If you follow a vegetarian diet, you may need to eat more foods rich in zinc to meet your zinc requirements.


The amount of zinc you need depends on your age, gender and life stage. The table below reflects the amount most people need to be healthy. You may need more zinc if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.


  Recommended amounts (mg/day)                                                                     
0-6 months 2
7-12 months 3
1-3 years 3
4-8 years 4
9-13 years 6
Adolescents (14-18 years)  
Girls 7
Boys 13
Adults (19+ years)  
Women 8
Men 14



If you are not getting enough zinc, you may find that:

  • your immune system does not work as well,
  • your growth and sexual development is affected,
  • you struggle to conceive,
  • you are losing more hair than normal,
  • you are more prone to infection,
  • you experience taste changes,
  • you have a loss of appetite, or
  • you develop some skin or eye conditions.



There is no evidence of side effects from zinc that is naturally found in food. However, if you take zinc supplements over an extended period of time, this can be toxic to your body and result in:

  • a poorer immune system,
  • decrease in HDL cholesterol, otherwise known as ‘good’ cholesterol, and
  • develop a copper deficiency.


There are no reliable zinc tests available, so if you feel that you may have a zinc deficiency it is wise to monitor your zinc intake, and seek advice from a health care professional.


The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.



Better Health Channel


National Health and Medical Research Council


Dietitians of Canada


Eat Right Ontario