How Much Zinc Do I Need?

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The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is the average daily amount that is sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy people.

Check out the list below to find how much zinc you need each day...

  • Age 7 months to 3 years: 3mg for males and females
  • Age 4-8 years: 5mg for males and females
  • Age 9-13 years: 8mg for males and females
  • Age 14-18 years: 11mg for males, 9 mg for females
  • Age 19+: 11mg for males, 8mg for females
  • During pregnancy: 11mg
  • While lactating: 12mg

The Daily Value (DV) for zinc on the Nutrition Facts label is 11 mg for adults and children age 4 years and older.

Who is at Risk for Zinc Deficiency?

An analysis of NHANES III data found that 35-45% of adults age 60 years or older had low zinc food intake that put them at risk for zinc deficiency.

Even considering zinc supplements or the zinc contained in multivitamin/mineral supplements, 20-25% of older adults still had inadequate zinc intake.

Adults from families who are food-insufficient (defined as a lack of financial resources for consistent access to the wide variety of nutrient-dense foods necessary for overall good health) had even lower intakes of zinc, often below 50% of the RDA.

Potential causes of zinc deficiency include gastrointestinal surgery and digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel symptom due to decreased zinc absorption and increased zinc losses.

Other diseases associated with zinc deficiency include chronic liver disease, chronic renal disease, sickle cell disease, and diabetes. Chronic diarrhea is also known to lead to zinc deficiency. 30-50% of people who are alcoholics exhibit zinc deficiency because alcohol decreases zinc absorption and increases its excretion from the body.

People who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet that does not include meat may also be at risk for zinc deficiency due to a combination of consuming less zinc and the zinc in plant foods being less available for absorption.

Is it Possible to Consume Too Much Zinc?

Consistently taking in more zinc than needed from food and/or supplements is known to lead to toxicity.

The UL (tolerable upper intake level) for zinc is:

  • 4mg age 0-6 months
  • 5mg age 7-12 months
  • 7mg 1-3 years
  • 12mg 4-8 years
  • 23mg 9-13 years
  • 34mg 14-18 years
  • 34mg for pregnancy and lactation
  • 40mg for anyone age 19 years or older

Want to learn more about zinc? Don't miss...

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CPT, CHWC


  1. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. updated 7-15-20; accessed 11-28-20
  2. Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(12):1286. Published 2017 Nov 25. doi:10.3390/nu9121286
  3. Hunger and Health. Feeding America. Understand Food Insecurity. accessed 11-28-20
  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food Data Central. Oysters, steamed. published 10-30-20; accessed 11-28-20
  5. Zinc Supplements and Lozenges Review. updated 11-3-20; accessed 11-29-20
  6. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Are Anti-Nutrients Harmful? accessed 11-28-20
  7. Wessels I, Rolles B, Rink L. The Potential Impact of Zinc Supplementation on COVID-19 Pathogenesis. Front Immunol. 2020;11:1712. Published 2020 Jul 10. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.01712
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