How much zinc in beef, pork, poultry & other meats?

Meat is rich in highly bioavailable zinc. Beef, in particular, contributes 20% of zinc intake in modern diets. A steak can provide more than 150% of the required daily dose. Pork, chicken, and turkey are also zinc-rich foods.

Is meat rich in zinc?

Meat is an excellent dietary source of zinc. Just a small 3 oz serving of meat provides 20-45% of the recommended daily intake!

The zinc content depends on the type of meat. Even different parts of animals have different zinc concentrations. For instance, chicken wings have 150% more zinc than chicken breast!

Actually, beef is the richest common food in zinc! A serving of ground beef provides 45% of the Daily Value (DV). A medium steak provides 16.9 mg of zinc. This dose is 153% of the DV. Beef liver has a much lower zinc content, though.

zinc (mg)
per 100g
zinc (mg)
per serving
% DV
beef, ground5.844.9645%
chicken liver43.4131%
beef liver3.42.8926%
bacon3.232.7525%
pork, ground3.212.7325%
turkey, ground3.112.6424%
chicken, ground3.082.6224%
lamb2.131.8116%
ham1.351.1510%
chicken, wings1.641.413%
chicken, breast0.650.555%
Zinc content of meat.[1]

The second-richest meat in zinc is pork. It has 3.21 mg of zinc per 100g. A serving provides 25% of the DV.

Turkey and chicken have a similar zinc content. They have approximately 3.1 mg of zinc per 100g. A serving provides 24% of the DV.

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Do we absorb zinc of meat?

Actually, zinc in meat and other animal-based foods is highly bioavailable. We absorb up to 50% of zinc in beef, pork, poultry, and other meats.[2]

On the contrary, we absorb only a small percentage of zinc in plant-based foods. For comparison, it’s estimated that zinc bioavailability of beef is about fourfold greater than breakfast cereals.[3]

What inhibits zinc absorption?

Plant-based foods have a low zinc bioavailability, due to their high phytate and polyphenol content. These are common anti-nutrient compounds. They bind to zinc as well as other minerals, inhibiting their absorption.[4]

Phytate in plants has the most negative effect on zinc absorption of meat.

Foods high in phytate are beans, whole grains, herbs, seeds, and nuts. We absorb only 5-10% of zinc of these phytate-rich foods.

Also, high doses of iron from dietary supplements can have a negative effect on zinc absorption. Iron in foods doesn’t negatively affect zinc absorption, though.[5]

Can I depend on meat to meet our daily needs?

The recommended daily intake of zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men.

In fact, meet is one of the main dietary sources of zinc in modern diets. For instance, beef contributes 20% of zinc intakes from food in the United States. Not only is beef high in zinc, it’s also commonly consumed.

However, we shouldn’t depend on meat for zinc. Consuming high amounts of animal-based foods can be bad for health. They’re packed with saturated fatty acids, which in high doses can be dangerous for health.

According to the American Heart Association, we shouldn’t consume more than 13 g of saturated fat a day on a 2,000 calorie diet. It can raise LDL-cholesterol, and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. Just a steak can provide more saturated fat than the maximum safe dose![6]

Can we get too much zinc from meat?

Zinc in meat is unlikely to cause zinc toxicity. Overconsumption of meat won’t exceed the maximum safe dose of zinc. The only food that we have to eat in moderation, as it’s particularly high in zinc, is oysters.

Most people could consume extremely high doses of zinc only from supplements.

Foods high in zinc

First, all animal-based foods (e.g. dairy, fish, seafood, or eggs) are excellent dietary sources of zinc.

We can get high amounts of zinc from plants as well. Whole grains (e.g. oatmeal), beans, seeds, and nuts are great plant-based sources of zinc.

Actually, most breakfast cereals are a major source of zinc in the U.S. diet! Many are fortified with zinc.

On the contrary, fruits and vegetables contain very little zinc.

Most noteworthy, people who follow a plant-based diet should consume many plant-based foods high in zinc, as the bioavailability of zinc in plants is very low. So, vegetarians and vegans might benefit from zinc supplementation.[7]

You’ll find a wide variety of zinc supplements on iHerb.

Zinc deficiency is very common worldwide, though. About 2 billion people are deficient in zinc.[8]

Health benefits of zinc

Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the human body after iron. It’s involved in the activity of over 100 enzymes!

Zinc plays a key role in energy metabolism, protein synthesis, sense of taste/smell, immune system, blood sugar levels, digestion, bone health, reproduction, wound healing, vision, and central nervous system.