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Foods That Block Zinc Absorption

author image Dr. Robert Manning
Dr. Robert Manning holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and practices in upstate New York. He has worked in a multitude of settings including the veterans affairs system, inpatient hospitals and private practice. He has been a writer and contributor to various Web-based publications for five years, and produces health-related works in his local community.
Foods That Block Zinc Absorption
A bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and almonds. Photo Credit: Vladislav Nosick/iStock/Getty Images

Zinc contributes to a large number of bodily processes including wound healing, immune response, growth and development and insulin activity. There is no part of the body that stores zinc, so a regular dietary supply is necessary. Unfortunately, some foods and supplements block zinc absorption, according to the 2000 "Journal of Nutrition." Avoiding these foods and supplements can ensure a healthy level of zinc intake.

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Fiber and Zinc Absorption

Dietary fiber is not typically well digested. Found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, excessive fiber in the diet can inhibit the absorption of zinc by binding to it. You should consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, but most Americans only get half of this amount. Taking in more than the recommended amount, or having a meal that is particularly high in fiber, may make the zinc unavailable to the body and it is excreted through the intestines. Many grain products, along with other foods high in fiber, also contain phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of zinc.

Iron Supplements and Zinc

Supplemental iron can inhibit the absorption of zinc when taken at the same time. Supplemental iron is typically non-heme, meaning it comes from sources other than animal products. This non-heme iron competes with zinc for the cells that absorb the minerals, and the cells have a greater affinity for non-heme iron than for zinc.

Soy Protein and Zinc

Soy proteins and other legume proteins contain a chemical called phytic acid. This chemical is an inhibitor of trace mineral absorption, including zinc. Additionally, soy protein itself interferes with the absorption of zinc.

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