Center for Young Women's Health




  • Zinc is important for your immune system.
  • Your body can't make zinc so you need to get it through your diet.
  • Teenage girls need about 8-9mg of zinc every day.

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?

Zinc is an essential mineral, which means that your body cannot make it on its own, so 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?

Oysters are the best source of zinc, but red meat and poultry are the most commonly eaten sources of zinc. Zinc is also found in:

Listed below are some foods rich in zinc.


Serving Milligrams (mg) of zinc per serving
Dairy Foods
Cheddar cheese 1 ounce 0.9
1% Milk 1 cup 1.0
Ricotta cheese, part skim ½ cup 1.7
Yogurt, plain, low-fat 1 cup 2.2


Grains and Cereals
Brown rice, cooked, long grain ½ cup 0.6
Cheerios® cereal 1 cup 4.4
Life® cereal ¾ cup 4.1
Wheat germ 1 Tbsp 1.2


Chickpeas ½ cup 1.3
Lentils ½ cup 1.3
Lima beans ½ cup 0.9


Meat, Poultry, Shellfish, and Eggs
Chicken breast 3 ounces 0.9
Egg, extra large 1 egg 0.7
Hamburger, lean 3 ounces 5.4
Shrimp 6 large 0.5
Sirloin steak 3 ounces 4.9
Turkey 3 ounces 2.6
Oysters 3 oysters 16.5


Soy Foods
Soybeans ½ cup 1.0
Tempeh ½ cup 1.0
Tofu, firm ½ cup 1.1


Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 2/23/2012


Related Guides:


Foods such as wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or products made from these foods are considered grains. Grains are high in carbohydrates which provide energy to your brain and muscles...



Foods such as beans, lentils, and peanuts are known as legumes. These foods are good sources of protein and fiber, and are used in many different cuisines...

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