Zinc should be included in any healthy daily regimen, but zinc supplementation is particularly great for treating inflamed acne (acne vulgaris, cystic or hormonal acne). While zinc alone isn’t likely to clear acne, when taken in combination with vitamin A and selenium, we’ve seen dramatic results with our patients. There is a long list of reasons why zinc for acne is an effective treatment:
Zinc is an important anti-inflammatory for the skin. Inflammation is one of the root causes of acne.
Zinc assists with the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids which also helps reduce inflammation.
Zinc is naturally antibacterial which reduces the effect bacteria has on the skin.
Zinc is an important antioxidant for the skin.
Zinc helps break down substance P, the nerve chemical that causes sebum production when the body is stressed.
Zinc is responsible for transporting vitamin A for acne prone skin, an anti-acne nutrient, from the liver.
Zinc aids apoptosis, programmed cell death which is a natural part of your skin renewing itself. If apoptosis is delayed, as in the case of zinc deficiency, skin cells stick together instead of dying and sloughing off like they should, which leads to clogged pores
Zinc reduces keratinocyte activation. Keratinocytes are cells that produce keratin, a tough protein that binds skin cells together. Too much keratin prevents cells from separating and leads to blocked pores, as is the case in acne. By reducing keratin, zinc helps to keep skin pores open.
Zinc from food
People with acne often have low levels of zinc in their system. Approximately 30 – 45 mg per day is the therapeutic dose of elemental zinc for acne, but this isn’t necessarily easy to reach through diet alone. If you eat plenty of meat, and you don’t eat grains or beans much, then you might not need to supplement. Meats, crab and oysters are the best foods for zinc absorption. More isn’t better, you just need enough.
Zinc is naturally occurring in beans, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, whole grains, but most of the zinc in these foods will not absorb due to low bioavailability. If you primarily eat whole grains and beans for zinc, you might actually be more at risk for zinc deficiency because these foods contain phytates which bind up minerals like zinc and prevent you from absorbing them.
Signs of zinc deficiency
Zinc deficiency is common, affecting almost a quarter of the world. Here are some common signs: