Are you zinc deficient?
24 Jul 2015
According to World Health Organisation research, a massive 31.7% of the entire population of the world are zinc deficient - that's over 2 billion people. But did you know zinc has many roles in the body, and could be the cause of your acne?
What is zinc?
Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential to life on this planet, as it has a key role in gene expression, as well as cell growth and replication. As well as this, zinc affects many other systems in the body, including the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, as well as the immune, skeletal and reproductive systems.
The physical manifestations of zinc deficiency can be many, and they range from white spots on your fingernails, to hangnails, to hair loss. But zinc can also cause acne, and is in many cases a contributing factor.
How do I get more zinc?
Much of the zinc consumed in your diet is not absorbed. A diet that contains a lot of beans and whole grains also reduces how much zinc you can absorb, as these contain a lot of phytates - something that will reduce zinc absorption into the body. This already-poor absorption rate is further reduced if you're a vegetarian, as zinc found in plants is four times more difficult to absorb than zinc from meat.
There are two routes that you can take to get more zinc in your diet; either zinc supplements or natural zinc found in some foods. Many forms of zinc supplement exist, but zinc picolinate is anecdotally referred to as ‘the best’. Zinc picolinate is what your body naturally forms in the intestines and so this may be why it is more easily absorbed.
If supplements aren't for you, you could always get your zinc boost from natural foods. Some seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower, are naturally high in zinc, as is chicken and grass-fed beef and lamb. If you feel like splashing out, oysters are also very high in zinc too.
So I should take zinc tablets?
Not necessarily. Unfortunately, zinc blood tests are very well known for being unreliable, as zinc isn't found in the blood, it's found inside the cells. But you could try taking zinc to see if your acne improves.
For some very very lucky people, a zinc deficiency is the key, and their skin begins to clear up right away! But for the vast majority, this is just one factor that contributes to their acne. If you begin taking zinc and your acne doesn't improve within a few weeks, that's not necessarily a reason to stop. Zinc has numerous other health benefits.
And what about my acne?
You could always explore other diet and lifestyle choices, or speak to one of our expert dermatologists for a free consultation. Acne is very treatable and we have a range of treatments designed to cater for it.