Science

Zinc and Multivitamins: Here's What to Consider

3 min read
Curious if you can meet your zinc needs through food alone? It really depends.
Curious if you can meet your zinc needs through food alone? It really depends.

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Zinc is a mineral that supports a variety of systems in the body, including normal immune function, bone support, and vision support.* (1,2,3)

Not getting enough zinc from the diet can lead to shortfalls—which is why getting the right amount of zinc is so important.*

But what, exactly, is the right amount?

How much zinc is really needed?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc (or the recommended amount of zinc needed each day) depends on age and assigned sex at birth†. Children 9-13 years have the same daily zinc needs, while adult women over 18 have lower recommended daily intakes (8mg) than males in their age group (11mg). That means men may need a little more help in the zinc department—which is where a multivitamin can come in handy.* (1)

Food sources of zinc

One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting enough zinc? Your diet. There are plenty of food sources of zinc—and incorporating the foods with a high zinc content into your diet can help support your daily zinc needs. If you’re an adult woman over 18, then you can likely meet those needs through diet alone.*

Foods high in zinc include (1):

  • Oysters (74 mg of zinc/serving)
  • Alaska king crab (6.5 mg/serving)
  • Red meat, like beef chuck roast (7 mg/serving) and beef patty (5.3 mg/serving)
  • Lobster (3.4 mg/serving)
  • Pork chop (2.9 mg/serving)

Meats, shellfish, seafood, and dairy products can be a good source of zinc—but eating animal foods isn’t the only way to get your dietary intake of zinc. There are plenty of plant foods that are good sources of zinc—and people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet can still get zinc from their food choices. Some vegan and vegetarian-friendly, zinc-containing foods include:

  • Baked beans (2.9 mg/serving)
  • Pumpkin seeds (2.2 mg/serving)
  • Zinc-fortified breakfast cereal (3.8 mg/serving)

Can recommended zinc intakes be met through the diet or is it important to supplement?

It depends. If you eat the right foods, hitting your daily zinc intake might be relatively simple—especially true for women, who have slightly lower zinc needs than men. But for men, taking a multivitamin with zinc may be a good idea. (Meet our zinc supplier here.)*

†As a health company that adheres to standardized nutrition research—which is often reliant on assigned sex at birth—we face some unique challenges regarding our gender-specific messaging. Our decision to use gendered terms is, unfortunately, a result of these limitations in nutrition research. In cases where complying with the binary distinction is necessary for scientific accuracy purposes, we want to make it very clear that we recognize a person’s gender identity might differ from their assigned sex.

References:

  1. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc Fact Sheet For Health Professionals. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health
  2. Shankar, AH; Prasad, AS. 1998, August. Zinc and immune function… Am J Clin Nutr. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health
  3. Yagi, T; Asakawa, A; Ueda, H; Ikeda, S; Miyawaki, S; Inui, A. 2013, April 5. The role of zinc… Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health
  4. Prasad, A. (1996). Zinc Status…Adults. Nutrition, 12(5), vi. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(96)00064-0

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