Zinc, an often overlooked mineral, is critical for many important functions in the body. Zinc deficiency is common among males and females and is critical for normal growth and development, the maintenance of body tissues, immunity, detox, and more. It is critical for wound healing and the maintenance of healthy skin. Zinc is often overlooked when determining solutions of acneic skin, and is a little secret for clearing up and healing breakouts.
Zinc Deficiency In Foods
Zinc deficiency is incredibly common now as a result of depleted soils and also zinc loss in food processing. Zinc depletion is actually the most common micronutrient depleted in soils overall, worldwide. It is estimated that 50% of agricultural soils used for cereal cultivation are potentially zinc deficient. Over two-thirds of rice grown worldwide is produced on flooded paddy soils, which generally contain very low amounts of zinc. Wheat is typically grown in alkaline soils with low organic matter, which tends to make zinc less available for uptake by plants.
Zinc Deficiency Symptoms
Approximately 1/3 of the world’s population suffers from the inadequate intake of zinc. Children are the most negatively affected by inadequate zinc intake because their immune system is not fully developed and they are growing at a more rapid rate. Zinc deficiency can be correlated with retardation, stunted growth, delayed intellectual development, and vulnerability to diarrhea and pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 800,000 people die annually due to zinc deficiency, with 450,000 of these being children under the age of five.
Common zinc deficiency symptoms include:
- Body dysmorphia
- Changes in appetite and cravings
- Delayed growth in children
- Dry skin
- Hormonal imbalances, including low testosterone in men
- Leaky gut
- Low immunity
- Poor neurological function
- Rashes and eczema
- Slow wound healing
- Thinning hair
If you suffer from some of these symptoms, consider that you may be deficient in zinc. Blood testing, hair mineral analysis, or at-home testing can be an option to confirm and to determine the level of deficiency.
Zinc benefits hormonal health because it plays an important role in hormone production. Zinc helps to naturally increase testosterone, which is beneficial for both men and women who are deficient. Zinc is involved in the creation of, and release of eggs from the ovaries. Zinc is needed for the production of progesterone and good estrogen in women, which both support reproductive health. Acne is severely correlated with hormonal imbalances, so balancing hormones is critical for addressing acne.
The Birth Control Pill is a major culprit for hormonal imbalances. It is often prescribed to help clear acne, however The Pill increases copper in the body, which therefore significantly reduces zinc levels. Therefore the use of The Pill is counter productive when it comes to acne.
Zinc is a critical nutrient for males as zinc helps to promote optimal testosterone levels. Males deficient in testosterone typically lack zinc and can also experience acne. This issue is common among teens and also adults. Increasing zinc can be excellent for targeting acne. Males can also experience acne from excess testosterone, therefore it suggested to get zinc and testosterone levels tested to determine the root cause.
Zinc And Acne
Other reasons that zinc helps to improve acne include:
- Test tube studies show that zinc kills acne-causing bacteria.
- 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 and therefore acne. By reducing keratin zinc helps to promote clearer skin.
- Zinc can balance the skin’s oil production.
- Zinc is anti-inflammatory, and inflammation is one of the root causes of acne.
- Zinc helps to break down Substance P, which is a chemical that increases sebum production. This chemical is released in times of stress.
Avoid Zinc Deficiency
- purchase organic foods when possible
- eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods
- consume the most nutrient dense foods possible
- consume foods rich in zinc
- avoid stress
- avoid fluoridated water and toothpaste
- heal the digestive system to ensure maximum nutrient absorption
- avoid birth control pills and other medications that deplete zinc, when possible
- reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption, as alcohol use increases urinary losses of zinc
Plant Foods Rich In Zinc
It can be more difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get adequate zinc levels. A healthy diet consisting of nutrient dense foods is essential to get the proper recommended daily allowance of zinc. Plant foods that are rich in zinc include:
- Organic and non-GMO tofu
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Peas and broccoli
- Chia seeds
Around 15-30mg of zinc daily is required for maintenance, and around 30-60mg when correcting deficiencies.
Sometimes diet alone is not enough to increase zinc levels enough to treat acne, or to correct zinc deficiency. Therefore, supplementation combined with a healthy zinc-rich diet can be more effective in addressing skin concerns. Not all zinc supplements are alike and you may require a higher dosage than the RDA. The most absorbable forms of zinc are:
- Zinc Citrate
- Zinc Glycinate
- Zinc Malate
- Zinc Methionine
- Zinc Picolinate
It can be helpful to take a broad spectrum zinc supplement that contains multiple types of zinc. Furthermore, prolonged zinc consumption can cause copper deficiency. There are many supplements contain the proper ratio of zinc and copper to ensure balanced levels.
Enjoy these healthy recipes that are packed with zinc!
Staying Healthy With Nutrition – Elson M Haas, MD, Buck Levin PhD, RD