Neither sex fares well when it comes to eating enough foods rich in zinc, a mineral that is integral to normal growth and sexual development. Two in three teenage boys and three in four teenage girls fail to meet the recommended dietary allowance of 15 milligrams and 12 milligrams a day, respectively. A shortage of zinc weakens immunity, so that youngsters may develop more infections than usual; minor cuts may take longer to heal, too.
It’s best to replenish the body through the diet.
Vegetarians, however, may be particularly prone to zinc deficiency. Much of the zinc in fruits, vegetables and bread is not always fully absorbed. Lean red meat is an ideal source of zinc, as are chicken and fish. A multi-vitamin with zinc provides the daily requirements for this mineral.
Foods Rich in Zinc
- Meats: lean beef, pork, liver.
- Dairy products: nonfat dry milk, cheese.
- Poultry: dark-meat chicken, turkey.
- Shellfish, particularly oysters.
- Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, squash, watermelon, lentils.
- Nuts: peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pine nuts.
- Yeast-leavened whole-wheat breads and bread products.
- Wheat germ, whole-grain cereals.
- Dry beans.