Zinc for Acne: Does Zinc Help Cure Acne?
When it comes to getting rid of acne there is not, as anyone who has ever tried to treat it knows, no such thing as a ‘magic bullet solution’. Every case of acne is unique every bit as much as every person suffering from it is. That is why the vest treatment plans usually call for several different techniques and treatments to be used in conjunction with one another, and not all of those treatments are lotions and potions that are applied to the skin.
Getting Rid of Acne From the Inside Out
Acne is more than just unsightly pimples, it’s a real medical condition. It’s not exactly life-threatening but it certainly can be life changing, as it can be a serious drain on your self-confidence. And like many other medical conditions some of the best ways to treat it are from the outside in.
Ongoing clinical studies have found certain similarities between acne sufferers of all ages. One of those seems to be that many people people who battle acne are lacking a certain mineral; zinc.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is one of the many vitamins and minerals naturally produced within the body – and then supplemented by outside forces like the foods we eat – that are critical for the body to function as well as it was designed to. The body does not need a great deal of it, but if it does not get enough there can be some rather unpleasant consequences for your health.
In ideal circumstances people would get all of the nutrients they need from their diet, and there are a number of food that do naturally provide the body with zinc (more about that it a while) The difficulty is that the average modern diet isn’t necessarily a great one. Increasingly we are not getting all of the things we need from our food, the reason why vitamin and mineral supplements are so commonly used.
What is Zinc’s Function in the Body?
Although it is a trace mineral and the body does not need in huge quantities zinc does play an important role in its function overall.
Zinc has been found to be essential to the proper functioning of the immune system. Not only does it play a key role in the formation of new white blood cells it also helps to trigger cell death at the right time. And that, some researchers say, is one of the key ways that a lack of zinc may lead to an increase in acne pimples.
Cell death – or apoptosis as it is scientifically termed – sounds a bit gruesome but it is an essential part of the body’s functioning. Cells get old and weak and are replaced by new ones, that’s basically how we all keep going! In the case of skin cells its a process that should be ongoing all the time in order for the skin to be healthy, smooth, supple and blemish free.
The Zombie Cell Problem
It’s theorized by scientists that a lack of zinc slows the process of apoptosis down. This not only compromises the immune system in general but slows the skin’s self renewal process.
If old skin cells are not being replaced by new ones they don’t quite die. Instead they slow down their function, stick together and clog pores, almost becoming zombie cells – not quite dead and not quite alive- until the new ones finally arrive to displace them. In the meantime however those clogged pores can lead to an increased number of pimples.
What are the Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?
Because our bodies really do not need very much of it at all, zinc deficiency used to be rather rare in the affluent countries in the West. It is, according to research, occurring more often now, thanks in large part to changes in what – and the way – we all eat. In fact, according to the World Health Organization 31.7% of the world’s general population can now be termed zinc deficient to one degree or another.
There are a number of telltale signs that a person might be zinc deficient that are fairly easy to pinpoint. These include:
- Dry skin
- White spots on the nails, specially near the nail beds
- Frequent colds (thanks to that weakened immune function we mentioned earlier)
- Overly dry skin
- Bouts of diarrhea
- Lowered sex drive
While these symptoms can also relate to other deficiencies and health problems if you can check at least a couple of them off in relation to yourself then there is a good chance that a lack of zinc may be impacting your health – and your chances of getting clearer skin.
What More Zinc Could Do For Your Skin
So, if you have determined that a zinc deficiency may be a problem for you just what do you stand to gain, in terms of getting rid of acne anyway, if you start working to correct the problem? Based on the findings of a growing number of research studies the advantages could include:
- Increased zinc can help reduce pimple inflammation
- Increased zinc can help the body fight off acne causing bacteria
- Increased zinc will help the body better absorb Vitamins A and E, which are also crucial for skin health and acne prevention
- Increased zinc adds an extra layer of anti-oxidant protection against skin damaging free radicals
- By speeding up slow cell death – getting rid of those zombie cells – pores will be less likely to clog.
Using Zinc to Get Rid of Acne With Diet Changes
One of the reasons, as we mentioned before, that more and more people are dealing with zinc deficiencies is that for many their everyday diet just does not give them enough or, in some cases, what we eat blocks the proper of absorption of zinc into the body.
So what should you be eating to add a little more zinc to your diet? Here are some of the best natural sources of zinc:
- Beef liver (look for calves liver, it’s much tastier)
- Green pas
- Lima beans
- Chick Peas
- Flax seed
- Kidney beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Mushrooms (especially the more exotic ones like shiitake)
- Dark chocolate (seriously, but you only need a square or two, not the whole bar)
As you can see there are quite a few tasty choices on that list. Those who are vegetarian or vegan can tend to be more prone to zinc deficiency because the lack of meat and fish in their diet. However, there are some great vegan friendly choices on that list and many of them add extra protein as well, something else that a vegetarian/vegan diet can leave people lacking in.
Taking a Zinc Supplement – Should You Try It?
Many people take vitamin supplements these days, it’s become a multi billion dollar industry. And there are some who feel that if you want to use zinc to help get rid of acne and prevent new acne pimples from forming then taking a zinc supplement is an idea worth trying.
The average person really only needs to consume 15 to 30 milligrams of zinc per day in order to be considered to be getting enough to not be considered deficient in it. Many experts feel that the addition of an extra 10-20 mg a day to help fight acne is enough. Too much more than that and you risk causing a copper deficiency in the body, something that opens up a whole new can of worms…
Getting Just the Right Amount of Zinc to Get Rid of Acne & Stay Healthy
This does mean that for most people a few diet tweaks can do the trick and there’s really no need for an extra zinc supplement as well, especially as zinc supplements do tend to make many people feel rather nauseous after taking them. According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc is probably safe and beneficial when taken in amounts no larger than 40 mg per day and once you go over 60mg it is considered to be possibly problematic.
One of the best ways to get a little extra zinc without taking too much – and maybe improve your overall health as well – is to look for a multivitamin that also contains zinc. There are some excellent ones out there that are also relatively inexpensive and easy to find and they contain smaller amounts of zinc. But try the diet changes first, it’s the safer bet.
Zinc is not, by any means, a cure for acne. But ensuring that you consume it in the right amounts can, it seems, be helpful in your war on pimples. And as maintaining a sensible zinc balance benefits your health overall then it is something that you should be paying attention to anyway.
Now it’s over to you. Have you tried zinc for acne? If so in what form? And what kind of results did you notice?
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