Needed for reproduction, growth, wound healing, sexual maturation and for maintaining a healthy immune system.
While it is found widely in plant foods, its absorption is reduced by phytates found in wheat bran, wholegrains and legumes.
Processing a food by soaking, fermenting or sprouting can reduce the phytate level and make zinc more readily available.
Daily Zinc requirements
Women over 51 years - 14mg
Pregnancy - 15-16.5mg
Breastfeeding - 16.5-18mg
Men - 21mg
Tips for meeting your Zinc needs
Eat legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains regularly
Soak legumes before cooking, then drain and cook in fresh water
Use sprouted legumes (e.g. mung beans) in salads and sandwiches
Avoid using large quantities of unprocessed wheat bran, which is high in phytates
Source: Dr Kate Marsh BSc, MNutrDiet, PhD, Grad Cert Diab Edn & Mgt Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian