Heather T. slathered antibacterial ointment on some cuts on her arm. Picking berries through thorny blackberry bushes was fun even though the activity left its mark. But the real concern was that it had been over a week since she first got the cuts and they didn’t look like they were even close to healing. At the same time, she was suffering from a surprise case of adult acne which wasn’t a normal occurrence for her. What was going on with her skin?
She never would have guessed that her wounds not healing were related to a nutrient deficiency, but after working with a naturopathic doctor, it appeared she had all of the classic signs of zinc deficiency. It’s true, she had hesitated to supplement with zinc as in the past it caused her nausea. But she felt she was getting some zinc in her diet through healthy whole foods like beans and nuts, and didn’t consider a deficiency as a real possibility – until now.
Her doctor recommended that she try a more natural zinc supplement to mitigate the symptoms of nausea. It took a good three months of daily zinc capsules, but her results were great. Her skin cleared up, any small cuts or cracks she’d get from gardening, cooking, or even the dry Arizona air healed quickly. Even the white spots on her fingernails, which she never associated with these other symptoms, had started to disappear. Moreover, her tastebuds suddenly seemed to wake up, among other health improvements. And she was able to realize all of these benefits without the nausea that she came to expect from zinc supplements!
Heather’s story isn’t uncommon. Many people don’t realize that zinc is so connected to skin health. Read on to learn more about this relationship and how zinc might support your own skin health.
What is Zinc
Zinc is an essential trace element. It is classified as such because zinc is necessary for human health but the human body does not store excess zinc, and it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet.
While zinc is often praised for its immune benefits, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. It turns out that these characteristics aren’t just helpful for fighting off illness, they can also help skin concerns that stem from bacteria, viruses, and inflammation.
Zinc Benefits for Skin
You might not realize it, but zinc has actually been used for skin ailments for centuries. Topical preparations like zinc oxide, calamine, or zinc pyrithione have been used as sunscreen, soothing agents against itchy or irritated skin, and as an active ingredient of antidandruff shampoos. Its use has also grown over the years for an even broader number of dermatological conditions including warts, acne, rosacea, melasma (a pigment disorder), and basal cell carcinoma. Zinc is also needed for the production of both collagen and keratin, important proteins in the skin.
For many skin concerns, research has found that dietary zinc and oral supplementation may be more effective than topical applications.
- Zinc for Hormonal Acne: Zinc’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to help the severity of acne both when taken orally and when applied topically.
- Zinc for Acne Scars: Zinc taken orally may help alleviate some of the redness and irritation associated with acne and other skin conditions and may even help reduce the appearance of scars related to skin concerns.
- Zinc for Rosacea: Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes flushing, irritated skin, and pimples. Research has suggested that oral zinc can assist in the resolution of rosacea symptoms.
- Zinc for Melasma: Research has found a significant relationship between low levels of zinc and melasma, suggesting that zinc deficiency may contribute to the development melasma. Appropriate supplementation with oral zinc offers a promising potential outcome.
How Much Zinc Do I Need?
Unfortunately, when it comes to how much zinc you should take, the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) aren’t much help. They provide reasonable minimum targets to hit, but not amounts needed for optimal health. In fact, Heather was even eating many foods rich in zinc which seemed to add up to the minimum required amount of zinc for a women and still found herself deficient.
So we turned to naturopathic doctor, Chante Wiegand for some guidance. She noted that “optimal intake is somewhere in the range of 15-30 mg daily depending on the individual needs of a person. In general, anything below 40mg is safe to take on an ongoing basis without the need for extra copper supplementation, which can be depleted from excess zinc use.”
Other Skin Superstars
If skin health is top of mind, here are other things you can do:
- Take Vitamin C: Vitamin C aids in collagen production, necessary for healthy skin. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and helps protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and other environmental factors. Try Pure Radiance C® for a gentle but effective whole food way to take your vitamin C.
- Sip Green Tea: Green tea can help protect your skin from damage and aging thanks to the powerful compounds it contains called catechins. Try our antioxidant-rich matcha powder or capsules for a delicious and pure way to get your green tea fix.
- Take Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a compound found in the skins of red grapes and in red wine. Resveratrol in supplemental doses may help slow the production of harmful free radicals in the body, which damage skin cells and cause signs of aging. As we’ve discussed, it’s important to note that the amount of resveratrol in red wine may not be sufficient to provide benefits, so a high-quality supplement is your best bet for skin health.
- Hydrate: Ensuring adequate water intake is like moisturizing your skin from the inside out
- Use Sunscreen: While excessive sun protection measures can hinder your vitamin D absorption, moderate sunscreen and sun protective measures can help protect your skin from potentially damaging rays.
The Bottom Line
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps protect the body inside and out by supporting your body’s most important barrier to the outside world -- your skin!
If you think zinc deficiency might be at the root of your skin concerns, you might consider Heather’s approach with a gentle but effective zinc supplement here.