You can find zinc in all sorts of foods including milk and beans. The mineral is important for growth and development during childhood. Now, a study of 200 seventh graders suggests extra zinc in the diet may give the brain a boost and improve their performance in school.
"Perhaps the most interesting finding is increased memory performance in adolescents occurred at the highest level of zinc supplement which is twice as much as the daily allowance," says Lisa Sutherland, PhD, UNC nutrition researcher.
Specifically, adolescents who drank orange juice packed with 20 milligrams of zinc performed better on memory and attention exercises compared to those who did not get the supplement.
The study was funded in part by the Department of Agriculture. Researchers say if further studies show the same findings, that could change dietary guidelines for adolescents to include more zinc.
For now, it's recommended teens get eight to 10 milligrams of zinc a day, but no more than 23 milligrams. Which, they say, you can get by eating a balanced diet. Good sources are fortified cereals, red meat, beans, and nuts.