Zinc during pregnancy: the most important questions and answers

Zink während der Schwangerschaft: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

A healthy body and mind are extremely important during pregnancy. In connection with physical health, well-known vitamins such as vitamin A, C or E are brought up. One essential mineral is all too often forgotten: zinc. Zinc is a crucial element for an intact immune system and a functioning metabolism. A deficiency would not only weaken the immune system, but also mess up the metabolism.

Since you are exposed to increased physical stress during your pregnancy, a balanced and full zinc balance is of great importance for you and your baby. In this article we will explain how important zinc really is before, during and after pregnancy.

the essentials in brief

  • Zinc is a vital mineral that is responsible for cell division, metabolic processes, the immune system and many other processes in the body.
  • Zinc cannot be produced by the body itself and must be obtained from food or supplements.
  • The recommended daily dose of zinc varies from 5-10 milligrams per day. In pregnant women, this dose increases to 25 milligrams.

Definition: what exactly is zinc?

Zinc is a vital trace element, which is only present in small amounts in our body. About 2-4 grams are temporarily stored in the body. It cannot be manufactured by the body itself, but is ingested through food.(4)

The functions of zinc are as follows:

  • involved in metabolic processes
  • protein metabolism
  • cell division
  • Important for some hormones
  • Important for the immune system
  • Important for sperm production

Background: What you should definitely know about zinc during pregnancy

Before we tell you tips and tricks on how to regulate your zinc balance, we will first explain some basic background information about the trace element zinc.

Below we have summarized the most frequently asked questions related to zinc in pregnancy and answered them for you.

What is the function and effect of zinc during pregnancy?

The mineral zinc is important for the development of the baby. As mentioned above, zinc has an influence on cell division and cell metabolism. These processes play a crucial role in pregnancy, which are supported by the correct zinc content.

The mineral zinc is particularly responsible for the following processes during pregnancy:(2)

Task Effect
cell division Zinc supports the cell division process in which a single cell becomes an entire human being
metabolism Metabolism is particularly high during pregnancy, which contributes to increased appetite and digestion.
cell differentiation The cell specializes in one task and continues to reproduce as such a cell.

Zinc requirements are increased during pregnancy and the risk of zinc deficiency increases.

How can zinc deficiency be counteracted during pregnancy?

Of course it is possible to compensate for the zinc deficiency through the daily diet. Here, however, you should primarily resort to higher doses of zinc-containing foods. (2)

Particularly good options for vegans or vegetarians would include wheat bran (13.3 milligrams/100 grams), soybeans (4.2 milligrams/100 grams) or peanuts (3.1 milligrams/100 grams).

The zinc content is significantly higher in animal products such as seafood (22 milligrams/100 grams), meat (8.4 milligrams/100 grams) or cheese (5.8 milligrams/100 grams).(6)

It is also possible to use dietary supplements, such as zinc tablets, if the daily zinc requirement cannot be covered by simple nutrition. However, it is important to consult your doctor. (5)

How effective is taking zinc as a dietary supplement during pregnancy?

If you eat a balanced and healthy diet, no additional intake of zinc as a dietary supplement is necessary.

However, if there is an increased need for zinc, as is the case with pregnant women, dietary supplements can and should be used. The additional intake of zinc makes it easier for pregnant women to achieve the higher daily dose of zinc in a much simpler and more targeted manner. (5)

However, it is important to only take zinc dietary supplements under medical supervision, since an overdose of zinc can harm not only you but also your child.(5)

Fish spices and citron lie on a cutting board

Animal products such as meat or fish are rich sources of zinc. (Image source: Image by Jeremy Stewart/unsplash)

How do I know if I'm zinc deficient?

Zinc can have such a powerful impact on the immune system. Symptoms of zinc are therefore also very diverse:(1)

  • hormonal disorders
  • Weakened immune system: runny nose or cough, flu infections or herpes
  • Skin Conditions: Dry or scaly skin, acne, eczema, or problems healing wounds
  • Disorders of the senses: visual, olfactory and taste disorders
  • Hair disorders: hair loss, dull or brittle hair, or premature graying
  • Nail disorders: Brittle nails, white patches on the nails or increased ridge formation

Note: A zinc deficiency can also be the cause of concentration difficulties, tiredness, listlessness or even exhaustion.

Will I get pregnant faster by taking zinc?

A varied and vitamin-rich diet creates good conditions to promote the desire to have children. If the metabolism is intact and the body is healthy, there is little in the way of the desire to have children. The recommended daily dose of zinc of 5-10 milligrams can also promote this project, since zinc makes the egg cells more fertile. (2.7)

What are the Effects of Zinc Overdose During Pregnancy?

However, if zinc is taken in addition, the upper limit of 40 milligrams per day should be observed. An overdose can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting in oneself.(3)

Taking more than 50 milligrams of zinc per day can even lead to zinc poisoning, which leads to copper deficiency due to the interaction between zinc and copper.

The lack of copper can then end in anemia and nerve damage. Therefore, you should be careful about taking zinc, especially during pregnancy.(8)

What is the daily requirement of zinc during pregnancy?

A daily dose of 5-10 milligrams is recommended by consumer protection. Pregnant women need 25 milligrams.

This excessive dose is due not only to the increased physical exertion, but also to the need for zinc for cell growth and cell metabolism.(1,8)

a half-naked pregnant woman stands outside and is illuminated by the sunlight

Zinc requirements increase significantly during pregnancy. (Image Source: Image by Igor Link/pixabay)

Does zinc help with hair loss and pimples after pregnancy?

Due to the increasing physical stress during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the trace element zinc is an all the more necessary mineral. Zinc is an important element for a well-functioning metabolism. (2)

The mineral is therefore also found in high concentrations in the skin and hair, which is why a deficiency can lead to hair loss and impure skin, among other things.

An additional intake of zinc would prevent excessive sebum production and calm the immune system in the event of severe irritation. It also promotes wound healing and healthy skin renewal. (1)

Zinc during pregnancy: Effective tips & tricks for the correct dosage of zinc

In order to adequately cover your zinc needs and prevent zinc deficiency, we will show you some measures that could be helpful.

Healthy and balanced diet

As mentioned above, a healthy and balanced diet is an important aspect that can have a preventive effect. (6)

In the table we have listed some foods with their corresponding zinc content:

Groceries Zinc content per 100 grams
oysters 22 milligrams
Meat 8.4 milligrams
pumpkin seeds 6.1 milligrams
Cheese 5.8 milligrams
sunflower seeds 5 milligrams
walnuts 3 milligrams
legumes 2-4 milligrams

To prevent zinc deficiency, you should include zinc-rich foods in your diet. This is particularly important during pregnancy.

Although the foods with the highest zinc levels are animal products, you can still get zinc from many purely plant-based products. Many nuts, seeds and kernels have a high zinc content.

However, vegans and vegetarians should keep an eye on their zinc levels, as they can quickly become undersupplied with the mineral.

Take additional dietary supplements

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have an increased need for zinc. If this cannot be covered by food, dietary supplements can be used.(5)

You should check with your family doctor beforehand whether dietary supplements are an option for you. Children and adolescents are discouraged from taking zinc as a dietary supplement, as excessive doses for too long can damage the immune system.(8)

Zinc supplementation may reduce the risk of preterm birth, but it does not affect the baby's weight at birth (5).

When buying zinc supplements, you should buy products that are in the middle price range. The cheap products from the drugstore are often combined with other vitamins, such as vitamin C, and are therefore not as effective. Furthermore, the dosage is often too low or too high and can therefore be dangerous for mother and child. (8th)

Note: The intake of dietary supplements, especially during pregnancy, should be clarified in advance with your family doctor.

Have zinc levels checked

If you cannot clearly assign the symptoms of zinc deficiency, it is advisable to have your zinc level checked either by yourself or by a doctor.

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, who will let you know whether or not they indicate a zinc deficiency.

To check, your doctor can take some blood from you and analyze it for your vitamin balance and your zinc level in the blood. The health insurance covers the costs for the small blood count once a year. If this is conspicuous, a complete blood count is requested.


How important zinc is for the body only becomes clear after extensive research. A mineral that not only keeps our immune system intact, but also contributes to a functioning metabolism. The importance of zinc also becomes clear in the event of a deficiency: The consequences can be nausea, skin diseases or even anemia and nerve damage.

The damage will also be passed on to your newborn during pregnancy. However, you can compensate for a deficiency relatively easily either through diet or through dietary supplements. However, the additional intake of zinc should always be done under medical supervision. Otherwise, the zinc levels should always be kept in mind, as this important mineral should not be neglected.


  • Foster M, Samman S. Vegetarian diets across the lifecycle: impact on zinc intake and status. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2015;74:93-131. doi:10.1016/bs.afnr.2014.11.003 Source
  • Hunt IF, Murphy NJ, Cleaver AE, et al. Zinc supplementation during pregnancy: zinc concentration of serum and hair from low-income women of Mexican descent. Am J Clin Nutr. 1983;37(4):572-582. doi:10.1093/ajcn/37.4.572 source
  • Kong X, Liu L, Sheng X. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1998;32(4):225-228 Source: https://europepmc.org/article/med/10322761
  • Muhamed PK, Vadstrup S. Ugeskr Laeger. 2014;176(5):V11120654. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25096007/
  • Ota E, Mori R, Middleton P, et al. Zinc supplementation for improving pregnancy and infant outcome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2015(2):CD000230. Published 2015 Feb 2. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000230.pub5 source
  • Saito H, Cherasse Y, Suzuki R, Mitarai M, Ueda F, Urade Y. Zinc-rich oysters as well as zinc-yeast- and astaxanthin-enriched food improved sleep efficiency and sleep onset in a randomized controlled trial of healthy individuals. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017;61(5):10.1002/mnfr.201600882. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201600882 source
  • Wilson RL, Grieger JA, Bianco-Miotto T, Roberts CT. Association between Maternal Zinc Status, Dietary Zinc Intake and Pregnancy Complications: A Systematic Review. nutrients. 2016;8(10):641. Published 2016 Oct 15. doi:10.3390/nu8100641 Source
  • Ackland ML, Michalczyk AA. Zinc and infant nutrition. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2016;611:51-57. doi:10.1016/j.abb.2016.06.011 Source
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