Zinc and Acne: Does Zinc Help With Acne?

Zinc and acne

Zinc won’t cure acne – but it can help acne if you’re deficient.

Let’s get right down to it.

While zinc isn’t a magical cure-all for acne, it turns out that many acne sufferers are deficient in zinc.

And their acne often improves when they start supplementing it!

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.[1]

In fact, taking zinc or eating zinc-rich foods is a simple way to cover your bases for clear skin… and there’s a good chance that you’re deficient!

Turns out zinc deficiency is much more common than previously thought.

Watch Sonia explain it all:



Read “Probiotics, Gut Health, and Acne”

Are you deficient in zinc?

Here are some symptoms of zinc deficiency:

  • White spots on your fingernails
  • Dry skin
  • Hangnails
  • Frequent colds
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Low sex drive
  • Acne

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.[2] 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.[3]

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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?

First take a look at your diet.

Are you vegetarian, vegan, or an infrequent meat-eater? Do you eat whole grains and/or beans with most meals?

If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then there’s a good chance you’re deficient. And of course, if you experience some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency, that’s a good sign as well.

If you begin taking zinc and your acne doesn’t improve within a few weeks (see below for the recommended daily dosage), does that mean you weren’t deficient? Not necessarily.

For some very lucky people, a zinc deficiency is the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” when it comes to their acne, and so taking zinc improves their skin right away!

For the vast majority of zinc-deficient people, however, this is just one piece in the greater acne puzzle, which includes a variety of other diet and lifestyle factors.

So if you fall into this majority, and zinc doesn’t clear up your acne, take heart, and don’t give up! Explore our other recommendations for improving your diet and lifestyle around the blog and in our book.

So… 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.

Why is zinc important for clear skin?

While the exact mechanisms are unknown, zinc most likely promotes healthy skin by carrying vitamin A to your skin and by regulating your body’s hormonal balance.[4]

Also, a recent study found that zinc facilitates apoptosis, or 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.[5] )

So, along with other important dietary changes (such as eliminating dairy), also make sure you’re getting enough zinc.

What’s the best type of zinc supplement 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*.

Update: zinc monomethionine* is another great option, comparable to zinc picolinate in absorbability.

*Note: These are affiliate links, which means we receive compensation if you make purchases using these links. Visit our disclaimer page for more information.

How much zinc for acne?

You want to get between 15 and 30 milligrams of zinc per day in total, so the amount you supplement might depend somewhat on your diet.

For most people who need it, supplementing with 10-15mg of zinc per day is ideal.

If you eat plenty of meat, and you don’t eat grains or beans much, then you probably are best not supplementing at all.

Again, with zinc, more is not better – do not exceed these recommendations, because you’ll risk copper deficiency, which can have serious health implications.[6]

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 as a step toward getting clear 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:

  • Oysters
  • Crab
  • Grass-fed beef and lamb
  • Pumpkin seeds

Like most vitamins and minerals, zinc from real food is generally easier to absorb than from supplements.

Avoid copper deficiency

As zinc and copper work together in the body, it is important to make sure that if you’re supplementing zinc, you’re getting some copper in your diet, too – but not too much.

Copper and zinc are balanced in meat and seafood, so those are great foods to eat frequently. Dark chocolate and most nuts and seeds are rich in copper but have relatively less zinc, so eating some of these is fine, but avoid going overboard.

If you’re not eating these copper-containing foods and want to supplement with zinc, choose a zinc supplement that contains copper, like this one (affiliate link – see disclaimer).

Key Takeaways

Except for a lucky few people, no supplement or combination of supplements by themselves are going to cure acne. It’s by choosing to eat nutrient-dense whole foods like these – and knowing which acne-causing foods to avoid – that people are healing their acne every day.

  • Increasing zinc intake can improve your acne if you’re deficient.
  • You might be deficient if you don’t eat much red meat or seafood, and/or you eat lots of whole grains or beans.
  • The best source of zinc is whole foods, but supplements are a good compromise if you can’t or won’t eat zinc-rich foods.
  • DO NOT take zinc supplements on an empty stomach! Take with a meal to avoid nausea.
  • Zinc can be a helpful addition to a holistic diet- and lifestyle-based treatment for acne, but it doesn’t fix the root causes of acne by itself.
  • You need to fix your diet and lifestyle to really cure the root causes of acne (that’s what our book is all about!).

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 our 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.

Sources (click to expand)

  1. Hambidge M. Human zinc deficiency. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl): 1344S-9S. Review. ^
  2. 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 ^
  3. http://www.aminoz.com.au/importance-zinc-zinc-deficiency-a-375.html ^
  4. 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. ^
  5. 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. ^
  6. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/zinc/ ^

For You:


  1. anu ganbat says

    Hey Sonia. I am Anu. I just started taking 50mg zinc and omega 3 1000ml (4capsules) a day for my cystic acne which was started around late 2013s. And i think its genetic since my father said he had some cystics when he was around my age (24 years old) and I didn’t even have breakouts in my teens. So is it safe to take this much dosage at a same time for my genetic cystic acne? Also, does shatavari do any good for cystic acne? Thank you in advance.

  2. Andrea says

    I’m not zinc deficient (i got my zinc levels checked through blood work) so should I still supplement with zinc anyway? Or no?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Andrea! How did you get your zinc levels measured? Was it RBC zinc? Serum? Plasma? Blood measurements can be somewhat inaccurate since your body keeps these levels very tightly controlled, and may sacrifice minerals from other parts of your body to do so (in my understanding).

      What’s your diet like? Are you eating much red meat and/or seafood/shellfish?

      Have you noticed any of the other symptoms of zinc deficiency?

      If you’re NOT zinc deficient, it may be something related in the acne chain, like vitamin A deficiency, or perhaps fluoride excess and/or iodine deficiency.

  3. Lucy C says

    I have been having problems with my skin since I was a teen, I am 25 now and still struggling.
    I do not have any red inflamed spots if I don’t touch my skin but I am covered of small, underneath little spots and I don’t understand why. It doesn’t look like the usual acne people have.

    I was trying to see if I have a problem with some food intolerance or minerals deficiency.

    I would prefer to assume minerals and vitamins with food instead of supplements where possible.
    I wanted to ask you if you recommend to take other minerals or vitamins together with zinc and which you would recommend.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention that I am affected from Chron’s disease, and even if is 2 years that I am not having serious problems because of it, I know this might affect food assimilation anyway.
    I have been diagnosed when I was 18 but, for what I remember, even if when I was a teen my acne was less, it changed before I have been diagnosed anyhow.

    Thank you

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Lucy! Sorry to hear about your struggles with acne – that sounds frustrating to no end. A basic supplement routine might be something like:

      – Magnesium
      – Zinc (balanced with copper, 10:1 or 15:1 ratio)
      – Vitamin A (through liver, liver capsules, or a quality retinol-form vitamin A supplement)
      – Vitamin D (best to get from sun, though)
      – Collagen powder or bone broth daily for gut healing

      It’s really hard to build a one-size-fits-all supplement routine for acne since everyone’s so different, and has such a different background, genetics, lifestyle, environment, dietary history, etc. If you want to go deeper into the mineral deficiency thing, Dr. Lawrence Wilson is a great resource, as is Morley Robbins (gotmag.org). I’ve been doing hair mineral analysis on myself for about two years now with great results, though it’s pretty complex and you really need someone experienced to guide you through it. I’m taking about 13 supplements at the moment due to a long history of weird diets, crappy food, toxins, stress, you name it.

      It’s a great ethos to try to get nutrients from food, but these days, soils are so depleted, and food stored for so long, and our guts ravaged by antibiotics, toxins, stress, and so on, that it’s quite difficult. Supplements can be a very helpful tool to remineralize the body, to get back to mineral sufficiency and restore the conditions of health. I certainly think it’s wise to get the highest-quality, most nutrient-dense food you can, of course. Grow it yourself if possible, otherwise buy from local farms and ranches as much as you can, food grown organically or using organic practices, eat seasonally (for greater nutrient density – foods grown out of season, shipped long distances, etc. are often very depleted). Wild foraged or hunted foods are probably best if you can get them – the least loaded with toxins, and the most nutrient-dense.

      LOTS of cooked vegetables will help load you up with minerals, too. Eat them with skin-friendly fat (i.e. not veg oil) to maximize nutrient absorption.

      Does this help at all?

      By the way, our e-book explains all this in a lot more detail if that helps!

  4. Nadja says

    Hey, you mentioned that the cause of acne is diet and lifestyle.. How about environtment? Because I got my acne after I moved to Germany. Well, I did have acne on my teenage years when I first hit puberty, but after that my skin was cleared. When I go back to Indonesia, my skin cleared. And when I go to Germany, my acne comes back. I don´t know why. Diet-wise, my diet in Indonesia is worse than my diet in Germany (Indonesian food are high on salt, sugar, spices and oil).. The air in Indonesia is dirtier than Germany also.
    I use the same skin care in both countries.. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Nadia! Very interesting… I wonder what’s different about Germany? What kind of environment were you living in there, versus Indonesia? Also, what foods were you eating in Germany compared to in Indonesia?

    • Annie says

      May I ask if you had any travel vaccinations (or catch up jabs) when you moved abroad? There are a lot of toxic adjuvants and heavy metals in vaccines that can trigger the body to produce acne among other ailments . The skin is a primary organ through which the body is able to detox, so acne is always a sign that something is internally unbalanced or damaged in our systems (therefore the cause may well be environmental). I personally had several health issues following a top up of DPT at age 17 and have suffered with moderate acne through to my adult years. I’m 27 now and still haven’t managed to clear it up entirely, though diet has helped significantly. I hope you work out the culprit, I totally understand the pain and struggle.

      • Devin Mooers says

        Great question, Annie! I know this was meant for Nadja but I’ll just jump in here with my experience. I remember getting six shots in one go before traveling to Africa back in high school. Yikes. I knew absolutely nothing about vaccines at that time, and the aluminum used as an adjuvant (and Thimerosal, etc.). Have you ever tried getting a hair mineral analysis to rule out / diagnose heavy metal issues? I really don’t know much about how heavy metals might trigger acne, except via lipid peroxidation (iron especially, very reactive with PUFA).

        Also what kinds of diet changes have you made? What are you eating these days?

        And are you drinking fluoridated tap water?

  5. Matthew McCall says


    I was wondering whether anyone had experience of taking pumpkin seed oil (in it’s cold pressed raw form)? I’m thinking of adding this to my regime – currently Vitamins D3 with K2, E and C along with Zinc Picolinate, Magnesium and Selenium.

    I’m aware it’s high in Vitamin E and Zinc so would probably drop those and replace it with a teaspoon of the oil after breakfast and my evening meal.

    Hear it’s good for hair loss in men to so what’s not to like right…

    Concerned it may spark an outbreak though due to the Omega 3 vs 6 thing?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Matthew! Sorry for the insane delay on getting back to you, we’ve really dropped the ball on blog comments. My sincere apologies! I wouldn’t add pumpkin seed oil due to the high PUFA content leading to more lipid peroxidation (and thus potentially acne). Nuts and seeds, and all oils and products produced from them are mostly best avoided in my current opinion, due to PUFA. It’s a much better idea IMO to get zinc from a supplement or from whole foods like oysters, seafood, grass-fed meat, etc., which have plenty of bioavailable zinc.

      BTW what forms of C, E, and magnesium are you taking? There are a couple of gotchas with those.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Well zinc is pretty strongly antifungal, and perhaps antibacterial, so I could see how that would help acne. Also, I believe some zinc gets absorbed through the skin, so this could help address a deficiency. Zinc is required for proper action of vitamin A in the skin, too!

  6. chuck says

    The comment was made to stay away from dairy. Surely, you are not recommending staying away from raw dairy are you?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Chuck! Not necessarily. Some people find that even raw, grass-fed dairy triggers some acne, but I’m beginning to suspect that’s more due to the iodine content in the milk displacing stored halogens (fluoride, bromide, chloride) and causing transient acne. My current opinion is that most people can probably tolerate raw, grass-fed dairy long-term, provided they’re limiting fluoride, and once they get past that halogen detox phase. This is definitely a theory, not a ton of data to support this. My own experience bears this out, though. I’m drinking local raw milk and cream at the moment and don’t seem to have any issues with it now, though I used to. I recently started supplementing kelp to try to boost iodine and displace stored fluoride/etc. from years of tap water drinking, pesticides, etc. and that seems to have helped me tolerate raw dairy without acne. What’s your experience on this?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Gotta read the fine print! Here’s an excerpt from the abstract:

      Supplemental zinc intake at doses of up to 100 mg/day was not associated with prostate cancer risk. However, compared with nonusers, men who consumed more than 100 mg/day of supplemental zinc had a relative risk of advanced prostate cancer of 2.29 (95% confidence interval = 1.06 to 4.95; Ptrend = .003), and men who took supplemental zinc for 10 or more years had a relative risk of 2.37 (95% confidence interval = 1.42 to 3.95; Ptrend<.001)." Less than 100 mg/day? No issues. That's a lot of zinc! We don't recommend taking nearly that much. So no worries there. It sounds like they found an increased association of prostate cancer with long-term supplemental zinc (10+ years) - it's unclear whether that's more than 100 mg/day, or ANY amount of supplemental zinc - but either way, they go on to offer this correlation/causation warning: "Because zinc has long been associated with prostate health, the observed associations may also reflect the effects of self-medication of longstanding prostate symptoms with surplus amounts of supplemental zinc. In addition, increased zinc supplement use may have coincided with decreased medical surveillance, which could ultimately have resulted in late detection of prostate cancer and, thus, a greater probability of advanced prostate cancer in these men." So in no way can we conclude from this that doses of zinc LESS than 100 mg/day cause any problems whatsoever. Correlation does not equal causation!

  7. Ami says

    In my mid 20s I started to get these awful clusters of acne on the left side of my cheek. For 7 years I was on the Mirena birth control and I noticed the 7th year my face was changing and I had random breakouts, I went to my doctor and I was switched to the Paraguard IUD and now my face is inflamed with this clustered acne. I was told due to switching from hormonal birth control to the copper my body is trying to regulate itself and I should at least wait a year and my face should be fine. It’s been almost 3 months now with the acne still pretty bad and no matter what I do I can’t seem to get rid of it. Could the Paraguard be a contributor to my breakouts since it is copper. I should say as well I’m not vegan, I don’t take any supplements, I eat pretty healthy and I never suffered from acne when I was in my teens..

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Ami! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – we had a baby two months ago and just moved states up to Washington, so it’s been a bit of a crazy time! It’s a common story we hear where people take hormonal birth control, and their skin is pretty clear, but after a certain time – or maybe when they stop taking it – their skin goes wild with breakouts. The ebb and flow and dance of hormones in your body is pretty complex, and any exogenous hormones can really put a wrench in the gears. Furthermore, hormonal birth control pills tend to make your body accumulate copper over time, leading to a zinc/copper imbalance. A copper IUD can make that worse as it releases some copper into your body. Such in imbalance isn’t something that necessarily will just fix itself over time, so good on ya for reaching out! Are you taking any zinc supplements? It might be worth trying something like 30mg of zinc per day (with a meal), maybe NOW Foods L-Optizinc (which is low in copper). This may help balance your zinc/copper ratio and help your body dump some of the excess copper. Vitamin C can also help detox excess copper – some people just take the regular ascorbic acid, but I’m a fan of whole food vitamin C like amla, acerola, camu camu, something like that. Thoughts?

  8. Anon says

    I just started taking zinc picolinic 25mg and my multivitamin contains 15mg citrate and I just started breaking out on my nose a lot had a couple white heads,I’ve had problems with acne on nose before but since adding picolinic it’s got worse in just a few days. Note: I’m vegetarian

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Anon! Hmm… how long have you been vegetarian?

      Have you changed anything else about your diet recently? Or any stressful events happen in your life around the time you started getting these whiteheads?

  9. Taylor says

    This might be a silly question – but I’ll ask it anyways. I eat a lot of grass-fed meat – mostly chicken, some pork and some grass-fed beef. I eat one of those proteins (or eggs) with every meal, but I definitely eat grass-fed beef quite a bit less than eggs, chicken, and pork. I’m definitely trying to supplement as little as possible. Would you suggest supplementing the smaller amount of zinc or upping my grass-fed beef intake? Side note: unfortunately, I hate seafood.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hmm… great question! In the book Perfect Health Diet, they recommend that even for folks eating a decent amount of red meat, either eating six oysters per week, or (in your case), supplementing with 50mg once per week (or around 10mg / day) to round out zinc intake. I totally understand wanting to limit supplements, but zinc is so important for acne sufferers that I think it’s worth supplementing for a while!

  10. Julian says

    Hi Sonia,

    Great article. I’ve got a situation on my hand. I do sports regularly and like all sports people I’ve tried taking supplements to help with my gains but EVERYTHING gives me spots. Which is very annoying. From protein shakes to creatine etc I was told to take zinc if i suffer from spots. So a few months back i did some research and bought some ZMA supplements from Holland and Barrett and it worked fine however recently I’ve been getting some spots, AGAIN.

    Now my question is can too much Zinc give you spots? My supplements contain 20mg of zinc. I am not taking any other supplements atm so i have no idea why i am breaking out these spots and its highly frustrating of course.

    Look forward to your reply.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Julian,

      When you say you’re not taking any other supplements, does that mean you’re also not taking any creatine or protein shakes? To answer your specific question, too much zinc – not balanced by copper – is not a good thing. This particular zinc supplement does not also contain copper, so if you’re eating a lot of high-zinc, low-copper foods, you might be doing yourself – including your skin – a disservice. If mild acne’s an ongoing issue for you, though, my guess is that something else is at play, instead or in addition. Are you eating dairy products, for instance?

  11. Taylor says

    hi sonia
    so basically i’ll tell what i eat :

    Morning: green tea breakfast is salad with cucumbers carrots and beets
    Lunch: brown rice or sweet potatoes or sometimes i fruit or two
    Dinner : green smoothies with some salad and sometimes totally plain yogurt ( almost water)

    I used to eat whole wheat flour chapatis and curries and grains mostly but now i’ve switched to this diet( because i am concerned about gluten ) But I cant get that which supplements i should take . I have ordered vitamin D3 and i am taking vitamin A and E by some foods but confused about Zinc .I am just about to order that too but i thought of consulting you first . because I am worried that zinc supplement should not cause the over dosage of zinc and copper . So after seeing my current diet plz tell me whether i should order zinc or not ( worried about copper that copper shall not increase too much or decrease ) basically imbalance of it .
    After monitering my current diet plz suggest me which supplements are actually needed for me . It will be a huge pleasure knowing from you .

    Taylor 🙂

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Taylor! Right. So you definitely need some zinc in your diet, but more than that, you need some FOOD!! I’m concerned that your diet is very low in calories, and specifically in protein and fat. I don’t know if you’re vegetarian, but to what you’re eating, I’d add each day at least 6-8 oz of meat (more if it appeals to you), 2-3 eggs, and FAT – douse your salads in extra virgin olive oil, put a healthy spoonful of coconut oil on your sweet potato, and stop diluting your yogurt (which is full-fat, I hope?). It’s great that you’ve given up gluten, but curries with rice should still be fine if they’re made without inflammatory ingredients like vegetable oils. So yeah, the main point here is that I think you need to eat MORE CALORIES, especially protein and fat. And then yes, supplement with zinc. If you are vegetarian (in which case I hope you’ll boost your intake of veg protein, like lentils and pulses, tempeh, non-gluten grains, eggs and some nuts if you tolerate them well), I’d supplement with the higher end of the range we recommend in the article, 30mg or so. If you start eating meat, probably anywhere from 15-30mg is probably suitable.

      I hope that helps!! It’s good to be careful about not eating acne-triggering foods, but it’s just as important to make sure your body – and your skin – are getting all the nutrients they need to heal and be healthy. So when in doubt, err on the side of eating the food!

      • Taylor says

        Hi Sonia .
        That was a huge pleasure knowing these facts . But sadly Im a vegetarian and can’t go for meat and eggs probably . I too was feeling very low with this diet so i switched to chapaties again ( no wheat though! they are of finger millet ) so is finger millet is gluten free but is it harmful for acne cause i read somewhere that it causes constipation! And yes i feel constipation is the most common reason for my acne surely ! but i hv to eat chapaties cuz i can’t eat whole grain bread and other wheat products . Constipation Constipation Constipation !!! what to do with it i dnt know ! i’m trying everything but sadly nothing is working plz clear me about finger millet (ragi) .

        And Sonia i wanted to know one more thing that as am a teen all my relatives friends parents all say that it would not go till my hormones gets settled till the age of 18 or 19 and presently m 15 and i have no acne history anyhow .SO is this fact true .?? cuz if its so then i would stop crying and torturing myself from eating these foods . Kindly guide me on this issue too 🙂

        Thanking you

        • Sonia Carlson says

          Hey Taylor! I’m not too concerned about your eating finger millet. If you react poorly to it, however, you might try finding another gluten-free grain alternative (rice?). Again, if you’re vegetarian, I’ll emphasize the importance of getting vegetarian protein sources like lentils/beans, gluten-free grains, and nuts (not peanuts). Ideally, eat both grains and pulses every day. And eat fat! If you’re constipated, you might try supplementing with magnesium glycinate, 200-400mg daily.

          Your relatives are right that acne goes away for a lot of people after their teen years – though this isn’t true for everyone. If it seems too much for you to work on curing your acne now, you might wait a few years and see what happens. You know best what you need right now, and how to take care of yourself!

  12. CHETAN says


    I have a query my 3 years old daughter is suffering from acne from last 1 year earlier we were taking homeopathic treatment but no results. Now we are consulting with sr. dermatologist . Doctor has advised that she is suffering from zinc defficiency and doctor has advised syrup ziconia and cream dexomet for treatment. I want to know that this treatment is right r we going to right way. Though after taking this treatment from last 2 weeks there is sliet improvement in her acne.

    Pls advise.

    Chetan Sethi

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hi Chetan, if the doctor diagnosed your daughter with a zinc deficiency, then getting those zinc levels up is absolutely a good idea (presumably that’s what the zinconia syrup is for). The cream is an inflammation-reducing corticosteroid, looks like, which won’t solve the problem but may help it look less red and painful while you’re using it. I don’t have experience or knowledge about small children with acne, so unfortunately I don’t feel like I can give you much advice. However, in addition to what your doctors are counseling, I would suggest making sure your daughter has a well-rounded diet (including meat, if that aligns with your ethical values) and is being exposed to a minimum of toxins (in drinking water, air, personal care products, etc.).

  13. Charles Amarachi says

    Good morning, I just started taking cod liver oil with Zinc cause I have all the symptoms of deficiency of zinc. I have: frequent cold, dry skin, Acne, hair loss. can I regain my self of all this by taking zinc and cod liver oil? thanks.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hi Charles! I think you’re asking whether taking zinc and cod liver oil is going to cure you of your frequent colds, dry skin, acne, and hair loss. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definite answer. There’s a good chance that taking these supplements will help some of these conditions, but it really depends on the whole health picture – other diet and lifestyle factors probably play a role in these conditions too. For acne, maybe taking zinc and cod liver oil will be enough to cure you, but if you’re eating a diet that provokes acne and inflammation, you will likely need to address those too. (That’s what our book is all about – you can read more on that here.)

  14. Erin says

    You weren’t kidding!! I just started taking zinc a few days ago and that s*** makes me super nauseous. I didn’t eat a full meal, but I did have a snack. I’m not sure if I can continue taking them because of how it makes my stomach feel. It feels like a pregnant woman with major morning sickness. Ew.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Yikes! 🙁 Maybe try again with a full meal and see how it goes? Also, if you’re taking a higher dosage, there’s probably more potential for nausea. Are you taking 10-15mg capsules?

      • Erin says

        Good lord! They are the 50mg caplets. Obviously WAY too high of a dosage. I bought them before doing my research first. I had no idea I was taking too much. Still, I don’t know if I will continue taking them because of the effect it had on my stomach. I’m tainted. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water as if I’m about to vomit.

        • Sonia Carlson says

          I don’t blame you :(. Instead of supplementing, you could treat yourself to a few oysters a week… YUM! (Or eat other zinc-rich foods.)

  15. Chetsi says

    Hi Devin and Sonia,

    I am 28 years old and have been suffering from acne on my face for 15 years. Bad ha! I am a vegetarian. I tried many oral medications prescribed by dermatologists but nothing worked. I live in a country where there are summers, winters and rains. My eating routine consists of:
    Morning – Tea, bread with butter or jam and some biscuits
    Lunch – Wheat flour chapatis and vegetable cooked in oil
    Dinner – Wheat flour chapatis and vegetable cooked in oil
    I sometimes also have rice in either lunch or dinner.
    I also have a glass of milk in the afternoon.
    If i get hungry during the day i eat some fruit like orange, banana or plums.
    I go out for eating every once a week where i gorge on pizza or burgers etc.
    My family members have great skin. It is just me who suffers this much. I am not aware of any food sensitivity that i might have. I don’t know how to find out either.
    I wash my face with a pimple clearing face wash two times a day followed by an application of an oil free moisturizer. I wish to have a clear skin. Please help me with the same.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Chetsi! Thanks for sharing. If you’re interested in changing your diet to clear up your skin, we can certainly help you with that! The diet we recommend is very different from what you’re currently eating, so there’s a lot of potential for effective changes that will benefit your skin. Although we do include meat in our diet, there is an adaptation for vegetarians. Learn more about our book here!

  16. Sean says

    Hey Devin,

    I think a main culprit of my recent KP has been taking too much Zinc. I’ve been taking the 30mg with 2 mg copper supplement that the bottle recommends daily. In addition, to a very balanced and paleo -centric diet, which most certainly includes zinc naturally, just not the optimal levels. You say in the updated article however you want to get between 15 and 30 milligrams of zinc per day in total, so the supplement you suggest is far too much if you’re eating a paleo-balanced diet, isn’t it? Should I be supplementing with 10mg of zinc per day/ 50mg per week instead of these large 30mg doses? Or should I just take those 30mg with 2mg copper pills once or twice a week?Can you clarify? I will try your K2 suggestion and cut down on the zinc a lot, since I’m consuming it everyday now, 210g a week..Hopefully that will help my KP. Let me know



    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Sean – we might not be clear enough about this in the article, but we’re not advocating supplementing with zinc unless you have reason to suspect you’re deficient:

      First take a look at your diet. Are you vegetarian, vegan, or an infrequent meat-eater? Do you eat whole grains and/or beans with most meals? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then there’s a good chance you’re deficient.

      If you’re eating a varied, paleo-type diet, my suggestion would be to forgo the zinc altogether for now. If you feel you must supplement, go for smaller amounts for better absorption.

    • Duane says

      The zinc supplement ZMA was exacerbating my low level acne….
      I was taking to much (about 3 grams as a bodybuilding supplement) and in probably had a hormonal effect….
      You mentioned spirulina here as well…. I bought the highest quality Hawaiian spirulina powder I could buy and it was also flaring acne up….I would stay away from spirulina now even if you could tolerate it because it comes from Japan or Hawaii…The entire upper Pacific is polluted with fukishima radiation….I’ve been using domestic wheat grass juice powder….

  17. Nandini says

    heyy Sonia….i am Nandini…i m 19 years old and suffering from acne from a year and a half..i have been consulting a dermatologist since a year but it is not helping me…i strongly feel that something is wrong with me from the inside..i am a south Indian and i eat rice daily along with some freshly cooked vegetables…do you think i should stop eating rice…? And i am even thinking of starting to take supplements of zinc , vitamin A and D..is it suggestible to take 3 supplements a day without having to face any side effects in the future..? Please help me out..

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hi Nandini! Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment! I am less inclined to suspect rice as a cause of your acne, and more likely to wonder if you might have other nutrient deficiencies. I wonder what else you eat besides rice and vegetables? Are you eating meat, or getting other sources of high-quality protein? How about fats? It’s not easy to give diet advice without knowing more about you, but I would look more to the overall nutrient quality of your diet. (Check out our book for more info!) As far as supplements, it should be no problem over the long term to take the ones we recommend, as long as you’re taking them in the right form and amount. (I wonder what vitamin A supplement you’re taking… the one we suggest is fermented cod liver oil. Check our our blog post on that if you haven’t already!) Best wishes to you!

      • Nandini says

        hiii Sonia…..thanks for writing to my comment..i would like to let u know that rice and vegetables are the main part of diet…other than that i eat non vegetarian items like mutton, fish and prawns atleast once in a week…i avoided chicken because i found that it contains some steroids which might trigger acne…i have even stopped drinking milk…this is my basic diet…
        please let me know the supplements i have to take …the pharmaceutical names of those supplements would be really helpful…
        waiting for ur reply…..
                       Thank You

        • Sonia Carlson says

          Hi Nandini,the supplements we recommend are fermented cod liver oil (2 mL/day) for natural vitamin A, vitamin D3 (5,000 IU daily), and if you eat a lot of grains, beans, seeds, and/or nuts, or if you don’t eat meat, zinc picolinate (25-40 mg/day). However, it sounds like a zinc supplement might not be necessary for you. Read our articles for more info on fermented cod liver oil and D3. Does that answer your question?

      • Dan says

        Vitamin A supplements are not sold over the counter. Vitamin A is something that has to be filled behind the counter.

        Vitamin A deficency is rare for someone living in the U.S. Vitamin A deficency is most common in 3rd world countries.

        Don’t take any supplements without asking your doctor 1st. Blood work should be drawn & then a “plan” should be made with a doctor.

        My sister had a Vitamin A deficiency because of an infection in the small intestine. If your small intestine has an infection or if you have Celiac Disease (and don’t know it) You can have a vitamin deficency issue.

        Don’t listen to articles that are put out on the InterWeb.

        • Devin Mooers says

          Hey Dan, I definitely agree that going to see your doctor about these sorts of things is always a good idea. Even better if that doc is a registered functional medicine practitioner or naturopath – they tend to be more up on the latest science around things like fat-soluble vitamins. Not sure why you said vitamin A supplements are only prescription… searching “palmitate” on Amazon yields several vitamin A supplements. They’re definitely available OTC.

        • Duane says

          “Don’t take any supplements without asking your doctor 1st. Blood work should be drawn & then a “plan” should be made with a doctor.”

          That is the most STUPID inane thing anyone could have written….
          Doctors are not taught to heal anyone….They are taught to treat symptoms with a prescription pad only…They are agents of big pharma ONLY…

  18. re_stars_2 says

    Since I was a teen age I had acne and when I got to 30 stopped a little bit, still got some coming out once in a while but not the painful one that infects the sebaceous glands, but since I was 23 I have had fulliculatis in my scalp..

    The only thing that would clear me up from folliculatis was Amoxicilin and that I took it since the appearance of folliculatis, and I grow weaker and then all of the sudden at 36 years old, acne attacked me hard with infected sebaceous glands.

    And same time my scalp of full of pus filled pimples and reds and itchy then the infection got to my bear and all at the same time.. My face was really bad along with my scalp, and doctors would only prescribe antibiotics.

    I now realize after a month taking Bitamins , A , D , E and turmeric pills, I have stopped the antibiotics and folliculites returned but continued with vitamins and my scalp started to clear again and my acne at least the cysts infected one that has no way out stopped too..

    I am taking at min 10k iu of vitamin A and D3 everyday about already a month and I have seen changes, first my folliculatis since I was 23 years old till 36 now..

    I still afraid and I don’t want to wake up if this is a dream, but I wished I had read your post about vitamin D and A, at acne.org I would have started younger , now I have scars and mazes in my face that cannot be remedied and I just hope the new scars I have stop being red and fade out a little bit more.. and is being a month since I started..

    I am happier than before..

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Really happy to hear that you’re having some success! Bacterial infection is almost never the whole story when it comes to acne (and I presume with folliculitis too), so antibiotics are never totally effective, and they completely wreck your gut flora. That’s great that you’re taking D – if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read some of the other blog posts too, such as the one on dairy. That one has a big impact on many people’s acne!
      Also, I haven’t tried it personally, but I’ve read that cleansing your face with Manuka honey can help with scarring if you want to do something about them. Scars will fade with time, too!

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