Zinc and Acne: Does Zinc Help With Acne?
Let’s get right down to it.
If you have acne, one factor might be because you’re not getting enough zinc.
Zinc is a trace mineral essential to all forms of life because of its fundamental role in gene expression, cell growth and cell replication. And it’s especially important for clear skin.
In fact, taking zinc is a simple way to cover your bases for clear skin… and chances are, you’re probably deficient! Turns out zinc deficiency is much more common than previously thought.
Here are some symptoms of zinc deficiency:
- White spots on your fingernails
- Dry skin
- Frequent colds
- Hair loss
- Low sex drive
As I just mentioned, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough zinc in your diet. (In fact, according to the World Health Organization, a whole 31.7% of the world’s population is zinc deficient. That’s over two billion people!)
Do you eat a lot of whole grains and beans? If so, you’re doubly at risk for zinc deficiency, because these foods contain phytates, which bind up minerals (including zinc) and prevent you from absorbing them. So even though whole grains contain more minerals than refined grains, you can’t really absorb them at all unless you ferment / soak your grains first (which neutralizes the phytates, to some extent). Furthermore, vegetarians and vegans are at an even greater risk for zinc deficiency, because the zinc from plant foods is four times more difficult to absorb than zinc from meat.
How do I know if I’m zinc deficient?
Well, unfortunately, zinc blood tests are notoriously unreliable because zinc isn’t found as much in blood – it’s mostly inside the cells.
What can you do about this? Well, you can try just taking zinc for a few weeks, and if your acne improves, it’s safe to say you might have been zinc deficient! It’s completely safe provided you stick to the recommended dose (I’ll get to that in a minute).
What’s zinc good for anyway? Zinc is crucial for proper immune system function, triggering the birth of white blood cells. Zinc plays a role in over 300 enzymes in the body, and helps form cellular DNA. It also plays a key role in the proper functioning of insulin, and you’ve got to have a healthy, functioning insulin system if you want clear skin.
How does zinc promote clear skin?
While the exact mechanisms are unknown, zinc most likely heals acne by carrying vitamin A to your skin and by regulating your body’s hormonal balance.
Also, a recent study found that zinc facilitates apoptosis, or pre-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. (Interesting fact: isotretinoin, the active ingredient in Accutane, also uses this mechanism of cell apoptosis to treat acne. )
So, for getting clear skin, do make sure you’re getting enough zinc.
What’s the best type of zinc for acne?
There’s a clear winner: zinc picolinate. Studies suggest that zinc picolinate is the most easily absorbed form – much more so than zinc gluconate or zinc citrate. Anecdotal reports from acne sufferers also confirm this. This is because your body forms zinc picolinate naturally from the zinc in real food – your body combines zinc in the intestines with picolinic acid, which is secreted by the pancreas.
If you can’t find zinc picolinate in your local health food or supplement store, just grab it off Amazon.
How much zinc for acne?
I recommend taking 25-40mg per day for the maximum benefit. Make sure you don’t exceed 50mg per day, as you’ll risk copper deficiency.
WARNING: do not take zinc on an empty stomach! It could make you throw up. I become very nauseated when I take zinc without eating anything. So take zinc halfway through a meal or right after eating to prevent nausea. Zinc picolinate, in comparison to other forms, is also the easiest on the stomach – another reason to go with this form of zinc to clear up your skin.
And just in case you’re not too hot on taking supplements, here are some whole foods you can use to boost your zinc intake:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Grass-fed beef and lamb
- Beef liver
Plus, like most vitamins and minerals, zinc from real food is generally easier to absorb than from supplements.
If you liked this tip…
If you liked this tip, please drop me a line (leave a comment) and let me know! Nothing brightens my day like hearing from you.
Also, if you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out the article on Vitamin D for Acne. Vitamin D is another one of my Top 3 Clear Skin Tips, i.e. one of the most little-known, important, and easy things you can do right now to start clearing up your skin.
If you’re the get-up-and-go type, and you’d like to be walked through a great diet for clearing up your skin fast (and keeping it clear), I’ve written an ebook that does just that. It’s called “Clear Skin Forever”. For this complete guide to taking an all-natural, diet-based approach to getting rid of acne and having clear skin for life (not exaggerating!), grab the ebook here.
- Hambidge M. Human zinc deficiency. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl): 1344S-9S. Review. ^
- Caulfield L, Black, RE. Zinc deficiency. In: Ezzati M, Lopez AD, Rodgers A, Murray CJL, eds. Comparative quantification of health risks: global and regional burden of disease attributable to selected major risk factors. Vol 1. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2004:257–79. http://www.who.int/publications/cra/chapters/volume1/0257-0280.pdf ^
- http://www.aminoz.com.au/importance-zinc-zinc-deficiency-a-375.html ^
- Truong-Tran AQ, Ho LH, Chai F, Zalewski PD. Cellular zinc fluxes and the regulation of apoptosis/gene-directed cell death. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1459S-66S. Review. ^
- Nelson AM, Zhao W, Gilliland KL, Zaenglein AL, Liu W, Thiboutot DM. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin mediates 13-cis retinoic acid-induced apoptosis of human sebaceous gland cells. J Clin Invest. 2008 Apr;118(4): 1468-78. ^
- http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/zinc/ ^