Zinc and vegetarian diets

Med J Aust. 2013 Aug 19;199(S4):S17-21. doi: 10.5694/mja11.11493.


Well planned vegetarian diets can provide adequate amounts of zinc from plant sources. Vegetarians appear to adapt to lower zinc intakes by increased absorption and retention of zinc. Good sources of zinc for vegetarians include whole grains, tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts and seeds, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products. The inhibitory effects of phytate on absorption of zinc can be minimised by modern food-processing methods such as soaking, heating, sprouting, fermenting and leavening. Absorption of zinc can be improved by using yeast-based breads and sourdough breads, sprouts, and presoaked legumes. Studies show vegetarians have similar serum zinc concentrations to, and no greater risk of zinc deficiency than, non-vegetarians (despite differences in zinc intake).

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Zinc* / administration & dosage


  • Zinc