If you are vegetarian or on a mostly meet/fish/cheese free diet, you are at risk of not consuming sufficient amounts of zinc through your food.
According to the US NIH (National Institutes of Health), the groups at risk of zinc deficiency include: vegetarians, people w. gastrointestinal & other diseases, pregnant & lactating women, older infants who are exclusively breastfed, people w. sickly cell disease, and alcoholics.
The bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is lower than from non-vegetarian diets and in addition, vegetarians typically eat high levels of legumes and whole grains, which contain phytates that bind zinc and inhibit its absorption.
(There are some studies that seem to prove that zinc levels between vegetarians and non-vegetarians do not differ significantly, though we remain cautious and would suggest testing your minerals levels if in doubt.)
The best common plant sources of zinc are legumes, nuts, seeds, and oatmeal. As stated above, phytates, which are commonly found in plant foods, can reduce zinc absorption, and some researchers have suggested that this increases the zinc needs of vegetarians by up to 50 %.
Source (incl table 2 below): https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/#en2
Benefits of Zinc:
- Zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system
- Zinc contributes to normal cognitive function
- Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal hair, skin, nails and bones
- Zinc contributes to the normal metabolism of vitamin A
- Zinc contributes to normal fertility and reproduction
- Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal testosterone levels in the blood
- Zinc contributes to normal DNA synthesis and is an antioxidant that contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative damage
- L-Methionine is an amino acid
- Zinc contributes to normal metabolism of fatty acids