Skin Health

The Importance of Zinc for Healthy Skin

Zinc (Zn) is a trace mineral essential for all forms of life and is necessary for the proper development, function and health of your skin. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body – it plays an important role in gene expression, cell division and cell growth.

Zinc is essential for healthy skin and bones by acting as a catalyst, promoting the absorption and assimilation of vitamins and minerals.

  • Sufficient intake and absorption of zinc is needed to maintain the proper concentrations of Vitamin E in the blood –considered one the most important and powerful antioxidants used by the body.
  • Having an adequate intake of zinc is required for the effective absorption of Vitamin A which is important for maintaining healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, eye health, and skin.
  • Zinc also contributes to the development of white blood cells, which help fight off infections and aides in wound healing by helping cells regenerate.

The body needs zinc for the synthesis of collagen.  Collagen is one of the most plentiful proteins in the body, providing strength and structure to the tissues. The loss of zinc from cells impairs their function and increases their susceptibility to oxidative damage, leading to premature aging, organ damage and other diseases.

Today, scientists are replicating the synthesis process called Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFN) and are creating an exciting new class of anti-aging products using zinc finger technology to repair cell damage and reverse the signs of aging.

  • When taken orally, Zinc can be effective for treating acne by regulating the activity of oil glands, alleviating inflammation, healing and minimizing scarring.
  • Zinc can contribute to the healing of more serious skin disorders like Eczema. If dietary levels of zinc are normal, topical zinc creams can offer relief by reducing redness and irritation while providing a protective barrier.
  • Zinc is also an effective and safe ingredient in sunscreens – in fact zinc oxide is the only FDA approved sunscreen for use on children under 6 months of age or those with autoimmune diseases.

Sources of Zinc In the Diet

Foods rich in zinc are easy to incorporate into the daily diet and most people get enough zinc from the foods they eat.  The absorption of zinc tends to be higher in diets rich in animal protein, as opposed to diets based on plant proteins.  Foods with the highest zinc content include shellfish, seafood, red meat, poultry, liver, yeast, wheat germ, legumes, nuts and whole grains. For those who may not derive all their daily requirements of zinc from these sources, there are many herbs that provide an excellent source of zinc when added to the diet.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is rare in the United States. Indications of zinc deficiency will present as white spots or bands on the fingernails – they may also become thin and peel.  Other symptoms of zinc deficiency include:

  • Frequent infections
  • Skin sores
  • Acne
  • Wounds that take a long time to heal

For those who are zinc deficient, taking a supplement is as easy as a visit to your local drugstore. Almost all over-the-counter multi-vitamins contain the recommended daily dose of zinc.

A note of caution:  Taking zinc supplements in large amounts may cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting.  Nasal sprays and gels that contain zinc are popular treatments for colds, however, these have been associated with the loss of the sense of smell and in some cases the effect has been long-lasting or permanent.

Clearly, zinc plays a vital role in the proper function and maintenance of healthy skin – fortunately it’s readily available in our food sources or as a supplement, making it easy to ensure healthy skin, body and mind.

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