How much zinc is in a banana?

Bananas are a common and nutritious fruit found around the world. They provide a range of important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. One of the minerals bananas contain is zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral which plays many vital roles in keeping the human body healthy. But how much zinc exactly is found in a banana? And how significant is the amount toward meeting the recommended daily intake for zinc? This article provides a detailed look at the zinc content of bananas and what this means in terms of health benefits.

How Much Zinc is in a Banana?

A medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 0.15 mg of zinc.

This amounts to around 1% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc, which is:

– 11 mg per day for adult males
– 8 mg per day for adult females

So a single banana provides a small amount of zinc.

The specific zinc content can vary slightly depending on factors like:

– Banana size: Larger bananas contain a bit more zinc.
– Banana origin: There are subtle differences in nutrient composition depending on where the banana was grown.
– Ripeness: As bananas ripen, their zinc content decreases slightly. An overripe banana will have less zinc than a firm, just ripened one.
– Soil properties: The mineral composition of the soil affects the mineral levels in crops. Zinc soil deficiencies mean less zinc gets absorbed by the banana plant.

But these variations are minor. A medium banana always provides around 1% of the RDA for zinc.

Top Zinc-Rich Foods

While bananas do contain zinc, there are many other foods that are higher in this important mineral. Here are some of the top food sources of zinc:

Food Serving Zinc (mg)
Oysters 6 medium oysters 76.3
Beef 100g 8.7
Crab 100g 7.6
Lobster 100g 7.3
Baked beans 1 cup 6.9
Yoghurt 1 cup 4.7
Chickpeas 1 cup 4.5
Cashew nuts 1oz 3.4
Milk 1 cup 3.2

As the table shows, good food sources of zinc provide at least 3-4 times more zinc per serving compared to a banana. Oysters are by far the best source, with over 75 mg of zinc per serving.

So while bananas do contain some zinc, they are not considered one of the major dietary zinc providers.

Benefits of Dietary Zinc

Getting enough zinc from your diet is important for many aspects of health. Here are some of the key benefits of this mineral:

– Boosts immunity – Zinc plays vital roles in immune system function. It helps activate T-cells and is needed for healthy macrophage activity.

– Facilitates growth and development – Zinc is crucial for cell division and growth. It is especially important for infants, children and teens.

– Supports wound healing – Zinc assists in collagen synthesis and acts as an anti-inflammatory during wound repair.

– Maintains taste and smell – Zinc is needed to maintain proper taste bud and olfactory function. Deficiency causes reduced ability to taste and smell.

– May help treat diarrhea – Taking zinc supplements can shorten the duration of diarrhea in infants and children.

– Regulates blood sugar – Zinc contributes to normal insulin production and blood sugar control.

As a trace mineral, zinc only needed in small daily amounts to gain these advantages. But deficiencies can occur if dietary intake is inadequate. Groups at higher risk of zinc deficiency include:

– Vegans and vegetarians – As zinc is most abundant in animal foods.

– Developing countries – Where soil zinc levels may be low.

– Alcoholics – Who frequently have poor diets and impaired absorption.

– Digestive disorders – Which inhibit zinc absorption.

So while bananas offer a small zinc boost, relying on them alone is not enough. Make sure to eat a variety of zinc-rich foods to meet your daily needs.

Daily Zinc Intake Recommendations

The recommended daily intakes for zinc are listed below:

Age Male Female
0-6 months 2 mg 2 mg
7-12 months 3 mg 3 mg
1-3 years 3 mg 3 mg
4-8 years 5 mg 5 mg
9-13 years 8 mg 8 mg
14+ years 11 mg 8 mg

These daily recommendations can easily be met through a healthy balanced diet containing good sources of zinc.

A banana only provides around 1% of an adult’s zinc RDA. So bananas should be eaten as part of a diet with a variety of zinc-rich foods. Relying solely on bananas for your zinc intake would not be sufficient.

Health Risks of Zinc Deficiency

Not getting enough zinc from your diet over an extended period can lead to zinc deficiency. This poses various health risks including:

– Weakened immune function – Low zinc diminishes immune cell activities, increasing susceptibility to pathogens.

– Impaired growth and development – Zinc deficiency during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence can stunt growth.

– Loss of appetite – Zinc deficiency reduces appetite regulation, leading to poor nutrition.

– Diarrhea – Gastrointestinal zinc losses can be exacerbated by diarrhea in a recurrent cycle.

– Delayed wound healing – Zinc is needed for collagen formation and modulating inflammation during tissue repair.

– Skin conditions – Low zinc is linked to acne and other chronic inflammatory skin disorders.

– Vision loss – Zinc supports the retina and deficiency is tied to poor night vision.

– Loss of smell and taste – Zinc is essential for maintaining taste bud and olfactory function.

– Cognitive decline – Low zinc can impair neurological function and is linked to worse memory in the elderly.

– Birth defects – Severe maternal zinc deficiency may increase the risk of malformations.

Although outright zinc deficiency is uncommon in developed countries, mild insufficiency is reasonably common. Ensuring you eat enough zinc-rich foods daily is important for avoiding deficiencies.

Toxicity from Excess Zinc

While zinc deficiency poses health risks, consuming extremely high zinc levels can also be harmful:

– Stomach cramps and nausea are common digestive symptoms of zinc excess.

– Impaired copper absorption – High zinc impairs copper uptake, potentially causing copper deficiency.

– Blood disorders – Excess zinc can cause anemia and reduced white blood cell counts.

– Neurological effects – Very high zinc may impair neurological function, causing issues like lightheadedness and confusion.

Toxicity from dietary excess is very rare as the body has efficient zinc excretion mechanisms. But high supplement doses over 150 mg daily substantially increase toxicity risks.

Sticking to zinc intake within recommended daily levels from normal dietary sources avoids potential harms from deficiency or excess.

Maximizing Your Zinc Absorption from Bananas

To get the most zinc from bananas:

– Eat them when ripe – Unripe bananas have less digestible zinc. Allow them to fully ripen to maximize nutrient absorption.

– Include the peel – Banana peels contain additional zinc. Leave a portion of the peel on or blend it into smoothies.

– Pair them with citrus – Foods high in vitamin C like oranges help your body absorb non-heme zinc from plant foods.

– Avoid phytates – These compounds in whole grains and beans inhibit zinc absorption, so avoid combining bananas with high phytate foods.

– Take care with storage – Lengthy food storage depletes vitamin C and increases zinc-binding phytates, reducing the zinc your body can utilize.

– Consider cooking – Light cooking can increase the bioavailable zinc in some plant foods through the breakdown of zinc-binding molecules. But avoid overcooking bananas which destroys nutrients.

Using techniques like these can help maximize the usable zinc you get from bananas and other foods in your diet.


While bananas do contain a small amount of zinc, their zinc content is relatively low compared to other dietary sources of this essential mineral. A medium banana provides around 0.15 mg of zinc, or 1% of the RDA for adults.

Getting adequate zinc is vital for immunity, growth, wound healing, taste and maintaining overall health. The recommended daily intake for zinc depends on age and gender but is easily achieved through a healthy balanced diet containing zinc-rich foods like red meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, eggs and beans.

Eating bananas as part of a varied diet with good sources of zinc can contribute toward your daily requirements. But relying solely on bananas for zinc would not adequately meet your needs. Maximize the usable zinc from bananas by eating them ripe, preserving the peel, pairing them vitamin C foods and using careful storage and preparation techniques.

While bananas offer some dietary zinc, ensure you eat a diversity of foods to gain the full benefits of this essential trace mineral.

Leave a Comment