Zinc: A Cure for Acne

Saad Rana Mar 16 2015
zinc-a-cure-for-acne

Usually triggered by hormonal imbalances within the body, acne outbreaks can easily be classified as one of the most common grievances of the global adolescent population. For some fortunate pubescent acne proves to be a temporary concern while others experiment with various techniques in an attempt to curb this skin condition. There is no dearth of medicinal products that claim to have cracked the code to acne elimination. The caveat lies in the variable success of these products and while they may reduce the severity of acne itself, the individual may become susceptible to several other side-effects.  Natural remedies provide a side-effect free alternative for those wary of medicinal products. However, their effectiveness too cannot be guaranteed. While they work wonders for some, they may provide negligible relief for others.

The question of the most effective acne treatment has yet to be answered satisfactorily, however experts have made promising headway with the discovery of the link between zinc and acne alleviation. Zinc may sound like an unlikely candidate in the search of the ultimate acne treatment method, but experts have concrete reasons to belief that this mineral has more to it than meets the eye. Studies have identified an acute zinc deficiency in individuals who suffer from recurring acne outbreaks. Eradicating this deficiency through zinc supplements or natural zinc rich foods is being touted as the latest remedy for acne.

Making a well-informed decision is of prime importance when matters of health are concerned. Read through the following essential facts about zinc before opting for this particular treatment option.

Zinc: An Overview

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that can be supplied to the body through zinc supplements or natural zinc rich foods such as spinach, cashew nuts and cooked mung beans. It may not be required in large quantities but its importance to the optimal functioning of the body cannot be underestimated. Your bodies are not designed to produce or store zinc on their own, which is why it is essential for you to supply it through external sources.

Why Zinc Is Important for You

To gain an understanding of zinc’s role within the body, take a look at the following list:

Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails

Zinc accelerates the renewal of skin cells. In addition to acne treatment, zinc creams are also used soothe diaper rashes, heal cuts and wounds, act as anti-inflammatory agents, soothe sunburn, alleviate blisters and gum diseases. Insufficient zinc levels may lead to hair loss, thin hair, and dull hair that show signs of early graying.

Fertility and Growth

This trace element offers benefits for both males and females. For the former, zinc is essential for the maintenance of a healthy prostate gland, normal sperm count and stable testosterone levels. For the latter, zinc has the potential to alleviate menstrual issues and premenstrual symptoms (PMS)

During pregnancy, zinc facilitates healthy fetal development, prevents pregnancy complications and birth defects, and reduces the risk of pre-term delivery. As the newborn child grows up, zinc facilitates the process of growth activation in terms of height, weight and bone development.

Immune System

Zinc has a powerful influence on the strength of the immune system. It enables the body’s natural defense mechanism to ward off infections such as pneumonia, diarrhea and the common cold.

Taste, Smell and Appetite

Zinc activates areas of the brain that receive and process information from taste and smell receptors. Moreover, it can also influence appetite and taste preference. Research suggests that zinc may also be effective in the treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia.

Healthy Vision

High concentrations of zinc are found in the retina of the eye. With age, the store of zinc in the retina naturally declines increasing vulnerability to age-related macular degeneration. This degenerative eye disease can lead to partial or complete loss of vision. Zinc may also arrest the onset of night blindness cataracts.

Key Sources of Zinc

Zinc is present in a variety of natural food products. While oysters (78.6 mg in 100 grams) contain the highest percentage of zinc, most people receive a large chunk of their daily zinc intake from red meat and poultry. Some other food sources that contain zinc are seafood (crab and lobsters), fortified cereals, beans, cashew nuts and dairy products.

Diets rich in animal protein promote greater absorption of zinc than plant protein based diets. Moreover, if you consume breads, cereals, legumes and whole grains regularly you may be susceptible to zinc deficiency. This is due to the presence of compounds call phytates which are inherent in these food products. As a result of biological and chemical reactions within the body, these phytates can decrease the process of zinc absorption.

How Much Zinc Do You Need?

                                Age        Daily Zinc Requirement
Birth to 6 months 2 mg
Infants 7 months- 3 years 3 mg
Children 4–8 years 5 mg
Children 9–13 years and Adult Women 8 mg
Teens 14–18 years (girls) 9 mg
Teens 14–18 years (boys), Adult Men and Pregnant Women 11 mg
Pregnant teens and Breastfeeding Women 12 mg
Breastfeeding teens 13 mg

How To Detect Zinc Deficiency

Given the various instrumental roles that zinc plays to support the optimal functioning of the body, it is imperative that zinc deficiencies be detected without delay.

Zinc deficiency is ranked as the 5th leading risk factor in causing diseases, especially diarrhea and pneumonia, in developing nations. Zinc deficiency in the early years of child development can lead to stunted growth, impaired cognitive functioning, behavioral problems, memory impairment and problems with spatial learning.

Mild zinc deficiency can be identified through the manifestation of one or more of the following symptoms: acne, dry and rough skin, dull looking hair, brittle finger nails, white spots on nails, reduced taste and smell, loss of appetite, mood swings, mild night blindness, frequent infections, dermatitis, acne, and delayed wound healing.

If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms consult your doctor immediately. Furthermore, seek your dermatologist’s expert opinion if you wish to adopt zinc as treatment for your acne concerns.

Saad Rana

Saad Rana:

As a current dental student at Ziauddin University, Saad takes an interest in health, fitness and nutrition. He writes articles based on research through on-line publications as well as consulting various doctors and nutrition and fitness experts. When he's not writing for Health TV, you can find him studying, exercising or watching some of his favourite TV shows.