Health Matters

What are good food sources of Zinc for my joint cartilage?


‘Zinc has earned recognition as a micronutrient of outstanding and diverse biological, clinical, and global public health importance’. Last month we showed zinc’s benefits for knee and other cartilage. We saw that zinc activates > 300 bodily enzymes, that it’s used in > 3000 different human-proteins representing 10% of all body proteins. So, it’s IMPORTANT!!

Australia’s government recommends a daily zinc intake from food (RDA) of 14mg (men), 8mg (women), 11 & 12mg during pregnancy and lactation. Other countries recommend even higher intake levels. Many Australian men (37%) and women (9%) have inadequate zinc intakes compared to the estimated average requirement (EAR). For males 71 years and older, 66% get inadequate zinc, as do 82% of pregnant women worldwide. Were we to compare Australians actual zinc intakes to levels to RDA (which are higher that EAR) levels these percentages would be worse again. Zinc is particularly important for pregnant women, who are vulnerable due to additional zinc demands associated with pregnancy and foetal development. Vegetarians generally get less zinc, have lower serum zinc concentrations and are vulnerable to zinc insufficiency & deficiency. The elderly are at risk often pay less attention to diet and eat less.

There are many reasons why our modern diet and lifestyles make it much more difficult to get enough zinc (more next month) So that you get an idea of foods to eat regularly to improve zinc nutriture I’ve listed zinc content (per 100g) for common foods below. Obviously, plant foods are poorer sources. In order of zinc content, fruits < vegetables < legumes < nuts ≈ ground spices ≈ fish/animal products  < liver < oysters.  All foods are uncooked.

To help you understand what foods to eat to maximise zinc intake, I’ve listed the zinc content (per 100g), for foods Australian’s commonly eat.

Fruits: mandarins 0.06mg; oranges 0.07mg; mango 0.07mg; apples 0.02-0.1mg; passion fruit 0.08mg; pears 0.09mg-0.15mg; kiwifruit 0.11mg; lemon (peeled) 0.1mg; banana 0.16mg; lemon peel 0.25mg; pawpaw 0.3mg;
Vegetables: tomatoes have 0.12mg; capsicums 0.2mg; chicory 0.2mg; radish 0.2mg; swedes 0.2mg; turnips 0.2mg; celery 0.21mg; pumpkins 0.07 – 0.3 mg; cabbage 0.2-0.3mg; onions 0.22mg; potatoes 0.28mg; cucumbers 0.16-0.4mg; celeriac root 0.5mg; corn 0.5mg; sweet potatoes 0.5mg; silver beet 0.5mg; kale 0.56mg; English spinach 0.6 mg; snow peas 0.6mg; beetroot 0.8mg; garlic 1.0mg; sundried tomatoes 13.6mg;
Legumes: red kidney bean 1.0mg, peas 1.05mg; fava bean 1.2mg; lentils 1.6-2.3mg; soya flour 4.1mg;
Grains: wheat flour 0.84mg (white) 1.3mg (wholemeal); rice 1.2mg (white) 1.7mg (brown); millet 2.7mg (bulrush); rye 2.8mg (wholegrain); 5.96mg rice (wild); wheat germ 7.7mg;
Ground spices (dried): paprika 4.33mg; turmeric 4.5mg; coriander 4.7mg; curry 4.7mg; sage 4.7mg cumin 4.8mg; thyme 6.18mg cardamom 7.47mg; cocoa 7.5mg (compare this with coffee which contains just 0.01mg)
Nuts/Seeds (dried): hazelnut 2.2mg; walnut 2.53mg; almonds; peanuts 3.0mg; 3.63mg; brazil 4.1mg; linseeds 4.34mg; pine nuts 5.3mg; sesame 5.53mg; sunflower 5.82mg; pumpkin 7.46mg; poppy 7.9mg; watermelon seeds 11.1mg;
Fish: salmon 0.42mg → sardines 3.1mg;
Animal products: chicken 0.67-1.1mg; whole egg 1.13mg; lamb 0.54-5.7mg; parmesan cheese 6.5mg; beef 0.94-6.6mg;
Organ meats veal liver; 12.0mg;
Oysters 11 -91mg;


It’s easy see why the elderly who tend to eat less, and why vegans/vegetarians, or pregnant/nursing mothers who don’t plan meal composition well, risk zinc deficiency.

The same holds true for non-vegetarians who eat poorly.

You can supplement but this has its own issues.

Eating good food is the best way of getting your zinc. You can now appreciate why I’m a big fan of organ meats & oysters.

If you have any health issues and would like to know how diet may help, please give the clinic a call.

Article Written + Submitted by:

Andreas Klein Nutritionist + Remedial Therapist from Beautiful Health + Wellness
P: 0418 166 269

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