Zinc : a Mineral for Vegetarians/Vegans to Manage


Zinc is an essential mineral as about 100 enzymes depend on it to promote biochemical reactions in the body. Zinc also:

-Supports immunity

-Promotes wound healing

-Helps preserve sense of taste and smell

-Promotes DNA synthesis

-Supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.


Women >19 years: 8 mg/day (11 mg/d for pregnancy; 12 mg/d for lactation)

Men >19 years: 11 mg/day

Tolerable Upper Intake: 40 mg/day (ensure to remain below this value)

Meeting optimal zinc requirements exclusively from plant sources is 100% achievable. Thus, food sources are recommended before the use of supplementation. 


Why Zinc is of concern to Vegetarians/Vegans

-Zinc competes with calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium for absorption. If an individual uses a single-mineral supplement, this can inhibit the absorption of the other minerals.

Tip 1: Take mineral supplements between meals

Tip 2: Split supplement into two doses per day

-Zinc, in certain food sources, can be bound with phosphorus in compounds called phytates and is thus unavailable for absorption.

Tip 3: Soak, sprout, ferment, and blend plant foods to break the cell wall, release phytases, and increase mineral bioavailability.

-The extent of mineral absorption is dependent on the nutritional status of an individual. For example, plant iron foods are absorbed more efficiently when an individual has a low serum ferritin level in comparison to an individual with sufficient iron storage.

-The absorption of zinc is more proficient in a diet high in animal protein compared to a plant-based diet, thus vegetarians/vegans are more likely to become deficient if intake is not monitored.


Plant Based Zinc Sources

Grain Products
3/4 cup Fortified Breakfast Cereals : 3.8 mg
3/4 cup Raisin Bran: 1.5 mg
1 cup Oatmeal, cooked: 2.3 mg

Meat Alternatives
1/2 cup Tofu, firm, raw: 2.0 mg
1/2 cup Tempeh, raw: 1.0 mg
1/2 cup Baked Beans: 2.9 mg
1/2 cup Kidney Beans: 0.9 mg
1/2 cup Chickpeas : 1.5 mg
1/2 cup Lentils, boiled: 1.3 mg

1/4 cup Peanuts, raw: 1.2 mg
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds: 1.7 mg
1 oz Walnuts, dried: 1.0 mg
1 oz Almonds, dry roasted, without salt: 1.0 mg
1 oz Chia Seeds: 1.0 mg
1 oz Cashews: 1.6 mg
2 tbsp Peanut Butter: 0.9 mg

1 oz Pecans, dry roasted: 1.4 mg

How to Increase Mineral Absorption

– – Soak – –

Utrecht Health Coach

– – Sprout – –

Utrecht Health Coach

– – Ferment – –

Utrecht Health Coach

– – Blend – –


By soaking, sprouting, fermenting, or blending plant foods, the bioavailability of zinc (the capacity of absorption by the intestine) is significantly increased. This is not only true for the absorption of zinc but also for calcium, iron, and magnesium! These traditional food practices possess more benefits such as removing gas-causing compounds for easier digestion, promoting enzyme production, and reducing anti-nutritional enzyme inhibitors.


Don’t know where to get started? Try this Macaroni & “Kaas” recipe by Ellazondo Nutrition which calls for soaked cashews.




Mahan, L., & Escott-Stump, S. (2011). Nutrition and Bone Health. In Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy (13th ed., pp. 614-635). St. Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier.


Davis, Brenda, RD & Melina, Vesanto, MS, RD. (2014). Minding Your Minerals. Becoming Vegan Comprehensive Edition (1st ed., pp. 4106-4736). Summertown, TN 38483: Book Publishing Company.

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