Doctor's Note

A few other videos on potential nutrient deficiencies associated with plant-based diets:
Safest Source of B12
Vitamin B12 Necessary for Arterial Health

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on zinc and vegetarians. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on zinc and vegetarians. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    • elsie blanche

      Is zinc supplementation safe and maybe advisable for vegans? If so, any forms you suggest? The issue of cadmium in zinc supplements has been raised.

  • squidey

    What do you think about the ratio of zinc/copper in the diet? Iv read the ideal is 8/1 but that seems pretty much impossible on a plant based diet, thoughts?

    • Nickolas

      wheat germ has a better ratio than beef, although oysters are the best by far but oysters also have many other things I would not consider safe for consumption.

    • Nickolas

      Also I found that hemp seeds contain zinc without any copper. 28 grams will provide about 23% of your daily requirement for zinc.

  • Thinkabouddit

    My zinc levels are low. I eat walnuts and flax in my oatmeal, and black beans or potatoes or grains with steamed broccolli, kale, etc., vegetables.

    Is there a quality supplement that will up the zinc level?

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    I heard you need to keep a 10 to 1 ratio of zinc to copper. Is this true?

  • Keivan

    My wife was recently diagnosed with having very high levels of copper. What are the chances that her mostly vegan diet has contributed to this problem. There is a lot of hype about copper-zink imbalance in a vegetarian and vegan diets. Although high in zinc, nuts and beans are also generally high in copper. Is this fact or fiction?

    • Harriet Sugar Miller

      Since no one has answered you yet, I will. Yes, nuts, seeds and beans are generally high in copper–and while the phytic acid in those foods binds their zinc, calcium, iron and other minerals, their copper is still available to us for absorption. As you probably know, high copper can make you tired and fuels the spread of cancer. I also read recently that it may be linked to Alzheimer’s.

      Here’s the long version of the copper-zinc connection and some suggestions on how to increase zinc and lower copper:

  • Paul Naylor

    I am concerned about cadmium levels in zinc supplements. I have read that zinc orotate is the most bio-available type, but is it a good source of low cadmium zinc? I have also read that zinc gluconate has the lowest levels of cadmium but also low absorption. Which would you recommend Dr Greger? Thank you!

  • Derrek

    How much beans, nuts and grains should be eaten?

    • Thea

      Derrek: Most of the professionals that I follow recommend up to 1 to 2 ounces of nuts and seeds a day. But beans and grains can easily be half of the volume of food that you eat. Check out the PCRM Power Plate, which I find to be a really helpful visual guide:

      • Derrek

        I just follow 80/10/10

      • Derrek

        I also found a recommendation for legumes, grains and veggies and fruits but couldn’t find it anymore

      • Derrek

        It was on their website

  • Derrek

    What’s the rda for vegans for zinc? I heard there’s a problem absorbing it.

  • Derrek

    Do you recommend zinc supplements for vegans? How much should I be getting per day? I heard it’s harder to absorb for vegans. How much should I supplement each day?

  • Lauren Bateman

    I just reviewed the comments and questions here. Zinc is best absorbed from whole food, so a supplement is not a good choice. The best way is to be sure to find delicious ways to eat beans, whole grains and/or a palmful of nuts every day.