Zinc is an important nutritious mineral found in our body that protects the immune system and metabolism function by fighting off harmful cells and bacteria.
This superstar mineral is also thought to help keep you healthy by reducing illnesses, preventing colds, and being extremely important for wound healing.
But zinc has also been studied for other medical concerns, too. It is actually one of the most studied element for various skin concerns, including acne. Moreover;
It’s been proven that people with acne have up to 24% less zinc compared to people with healthy skin and this tells us that zinc deficiency can be associated with acne severity.
While our body usually gets enough zinc through a varied diet, some people may find temporary supplementation beneficial.
In this article, you’re going to find out about the 5 key benefits of zinc for your skin.
What Are The Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?
Symptoms of zinc deficiency tend to be linked to the roles this mineral performs in the body. If you have some of the following symptoms, it may be an indication that you have a zinc deficiency:
- Constant appetite loss – zinc is an appetite stimulator, so naturally, zinc deficiency may lead to loss of appetite. Zinc has been used in the treatment of anorexia since 1979 and a 1994 trial showed that zinc doubled the rate of body mass increase which lead to successful treatment of patients suffering from anorexia nervosa.
- Low immune function – zinc is vitally important for healthy immune function as this protects us from disease and kills dangerous bacteria by promoting apoptosis (the death of cells which occurs as a normal during the growth and development of the organism). During inflammation due to viruses and bacteria, there is an increased cellular demand for zinc.
- Feeling lethargic – a zinc deficiency tends to cause fatigue since this mineral is related to the activity of over 300 different enzymes in the body that are necessary for good metabolism function.
- Hair thinning – severe zinc deficiency can cause hair thinning and may lead to complete hair loss in certain areas. In a case study conducted in 2013, it was found that the hair loss of a 28-year-old woman was only improved when zinc was added as a treatment.
- Acne & Rashes – zinc deficiency may manifest as acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and dry, scaling skin. As zinc is necessary for wound healing, zinc deficiency may prevent the healing of inflammation caused by acne.
- Chronic stress – cortisol levels spike during constant and prolonged stress. This can cause poor mineral absorption, which can lead to zinc, calcium, and magnesium deficiencies. Learn all about the effects chronic stress has on the skin by clicking here.
Zinc is distributed throughout the cells in your body, and this can sometimes make it difficult to detect zinc deficiency through a simple blood test.
If you have symptoms that are causing you to be concerned about zinc deficiency, talk to your doctor and discuss a way to do an accurate reading.
Other tests for zinc deficiency may include a urine test and analysis of a strand of your hair.
It is of incredible importance NOT to self-diagnose and self-medicate if you suspect zinc deficiency.
Skin Benefits Of Zinc
Skin cells are particularly dependent on zinc, and here’s how zinc can help maintain healthy and glowing skin:
1. It’s a powerful antioxidant
Zinc is a key part of your skin’s dietary defence squad. This powerful mineral fights the formation of damaging free radicals and decreases oxidative stress.
It protects the skin’s barrier against environmental aggressors and actively protects the fibroblast cells which are responsible for collagen production to support the structure of the skin and reduce premature signs of ageing.
2. It helps heal rashes & sores
Zinc actively reduces inflammation by boosting the immune system to fight off harmful bacteria and diseases. It’s an anti-microbial agent, which helps to soothe and heal the skin rapidly.
It’s a common ingredient in haemorrhoid treatments and diaper rash creams, and researches show that zinc can effectively shorten the duration and reduce the severity of cold sores.
3. Relieves and itchy scalp and combats dandruff
Zinc pyrithione is often the active ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners.
Dandruff occurs due to fungal or yeast overgrowth and can result in moderate to severe inflammation of the skin. This causes the skin cells to flake off and expose the underlying skin to infections.
Zinc pyrithione not only helps control the fungal overgrowth, but it also reduces the amount of oil the yeast feeds on, while its anti-inflammatory properties soothe irritation and relieve itchiness.
4. It helps heal acne
Acne develops when a buildup of bacteria and dead skin cells accumulates inside the pore and prevents the sebum from coming out to the surface of the skin.
Acne can easily become inflamed, causing the surrounding skin to turn red, swollen, and itchy. By boosting the immune function, zinc can help control and reduce the inflammatory response.
It can also inhibit the overgrowth of the yeast malassezia that is the main cause behind fungal acne. You can read my other article on the difference between common bacterial acne and fungal acne here.
Zinc also regulates cellular turnover and can help reduce the production of excess sebum and prevent pores from clogging.
5. It provides excellent sun protection
Zinc oxide is a compound that contains zinc and the main ingredient in a physical sunscreen.
It acts as a physical barrier between the harmful UV rays and the skin, preventing them from penetrating deeper into the skin layer and demolishing the production of healthy cells.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, zinc oxide can help protect even the most sensitive skins without causing unwanted irritation.
How Much Zinc Do You Really Need Daily?
According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, the daily recommended amount of zinc should be up to 12 mg in adults, including breastfeeding women and 2-8 mg for children between the ages of 1-13 years old.
Foods Rich in Zinc
Before considering a dietary supplement of zinc for your health or skin concerns, keep a food log to determine whether you’re getting enough zinc through your diet.
As with other nutrients, your body can absorb zinc more effectively from the foods you’re eating rather than supplements or topical application.
Here are some foods that are rich in zinc:
- Oysters – being the best source of zinc, six medium oysters provide 32 mg of zinc, which is about 290% of the daily recommended dose of zinc.
- Red meat – a good amount of zinc can be found in all different kinds of meat including beef, lamb, and pork. A 100-gram serving of raw ground beef contains 4.8 mg of zinc.
- Legumes – legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and beans contain substantial amounts of zinc. Cooked lentils of 100 grams contain about 12% of the daily recommended zinc intake.
- Poultry – chicken is a good source of zinc with 100 grams of chicken amounting to about 1.6 mg of zinc, which is about 12% of the daily recommended zinc intake.
Does Zinc Have Side Effects?
Although zinc is nutritionally important, too much good isn’t always good. And as with everything, it is also possible to get too much zinc.
While there are no serious or life-threatening consequences from over intake of zinc and you can always lower your dose, watch out for the following symptoms:
- stomach upset
- abdominal pain
Though needed in small amounts, zinc plays an important role in maintaining a strong immune system, hormonal production and regulation, digestion, energy, and healthy skin.
Zinc also helps with having a good cognitive function, better focus, learning, memory, and good vision.
While rarely life-threatening, effects of zinc deficiency can often become troublesome and interfere with everyday life.
This article explains the important role zinc plays in keeping you healthy from viruses and diseases, as well as the 5 key benefits of zinc for your skin.