Did you know that a zinc deficiency can profoundly affect the appearance of your skin? This tiny mineral plays a big role in your skin’s health, and if you have a zinc deficiency, it’s bound to show on your complexion. You might find your skin is dull, irritated, hyperpigmented, or prone to acne.
Making sure you have plenty of zinc, on the other hand, can help you get skin that straight up glows. It can even help delay the aging process!
So, if you want to know how zinc affects your skin, and how to avoid a zinc deficiency, read on. Here’s the inside scoop on this skin-tastic mineral.
Protects Your Skin From The Sun
There’s a good chance you’ve probably slathered on a little zinc oxide sunscreen on your face to fend off a sunburn during a day at the beach. That’s because zinc is a superstar when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
And it turns out that sunscreen isn’t the only way zinc protects your skin. An intake of zinc can also be helpful. A study has shown that an increase in your body’s zinc levels overall can help protect your skin cells from toxicity caused by UVA rays.1
But don’t rely solely on zinc-rich foods to help keep your skin safe. Always apply sunscreen before leaving the house, and try to limit the amount of sun exposure you get. Not only will this help stave off premature aging caused by UV rays – it’ll also help prevent the onset of serious health problems.
Keeps Acne Breakouts At Bay
Breakouts are a regular occurrence during adolescence, but it’s not uncommon to continue dealing with pimples long after graduation day.
Those pesky pimples can be caused by a lot of different factors, including hormones, oily skin, and even stress.
But it turns out that zinc — or rather, a lack of zinc — can also play a role in breakouts. In fact, scientific studies have shown that people who regularly experience acne tend to have significantly lower levels of zinc in their bodies.2 So, if you struggle with acne, you might want to up your intake of zinc-rich foods, to see if you experience a decrease in breakouts.
Helps Prevent Dark Spots
Just about as soon as you stop experiencing breakouts, you begin to experience a different kind of spotting on your complexion: dark spots, or “sunspots,” which often show up on the parts of your skin that are most often exposed to the sun – like your face, chest, and hands.
But sun exposure isn’t the only culprit when it comes to the development of those dark spots. Birth control use, pregnancy, and emotional stress are also known to play big roles. And — wait for it — if you have a zinc deficiency, you’re at much greater risk of eventually seeing those little brown spots dotting your complexion.3
So, to keep those dark spots from showing up, get plenty of zinc.
Soothes Sensitive Skin
If you frequently experience redness, flushing, or irritated skin, you might want to load up on zinc. A study detailed in the International Journal of Dermatology found that people who struggle with skin irritation found significant relief — and calmer skin — when they took 300 mg of zinc supplements per day.4
Delays The Visible Signs of Aging
Wrinkles are a sign of wisdom and a life well lived, but you don’t necessarily want them showing up too early.
One of the biggest causes of premature aging? Free radicals.
Free radicals are damaging molecules that are generated from sources like air pollution, pesticides, and UV rays. These molecules contain an uneven number of electrons. And, since electrons like to be paired, they scavenge your body, looking to make a pair. This scavenging stresses out your skin and leads to the development of the visible signs of aging, like wrinkles and sagging.5
A great way to counteract the effects of free radicals is by getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet. Antioxidants have the capability of neutralizing free radicals – ensuring they don’t do their damaging, aging work on your skin.
One great example of an antioxidant? You guessed it – zinc.6 So, a diet high in zinc just might help keep your skin looking young for years to come.
A Zinc Deficiency: Something To Be Concerned About?
Your body doesn’t produce zinc on its own – it actually has to get its supply from dietary sources. And here’s the thing: a lot of people aren’t getting enough of it. In fact, nearly 2 billion people worldwide have a marginal zinc deficiency.7
You might think a zinc supplement is the best way to up your body’s supply of zinc — and it certainly can be a good way to get a good dose.
But most people can get adequate amounts of this mineral from their diets without the addition of a daily zinc supplement.
The trick is knowing which foods are high in zinc, and understanding how to maximize zinc absorption.
First things first. Adults should be getting between 8-11 mg of zinc from their diets each day.8
And to make sure your body is absorbing all that good zinc, it’s important to avoid combining zinc-rich foods with meals that include cereal, corn, or rice. This might seem counterintuitive since many “fortified” cereals contain zinc. But cereal — along with corn and rice — all contain “phytates.” Phytates are naturally-occurring chemicals, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, they do tend to lower your body’s zinc absorption. A great way to up your zinc absorption? Include a lot of protein in your meal!9
Now… here’s a cheat sheet of high-zinc foods that will help you avoid a zinc deficiency:
Some Key Foods That Are High In Zinc
Pumpkin Seeds: Save those pumpkin seeds after Halloween, because they’re a good source of zinc. One cup of toasted pumpkin seeds equals 9 mg of zinc.
Sunflower Seeds: Another great seed to snack on? Sunflower seeds. They’re high in zinc, giving you up to 7 mg per serving.
Wheat Germ: Wheat germ is another good source of zinc, providing 14 mg per cup. You can buy wheat germ at a health foods store and sprinkle it in your oatmeal or yogurt.
Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds will give you 13 mg of zinc per cup. Try eating hummus that includes sesame seeds, or even experimenting with tahini, which is made from sesame seeds. You can use it as a base for homemade salad dressings.
Peanuts: This legume is another good source of zinc — one cup contains 9 mg.
Pine Nuts: A great addition to salads, pine nuts contain nearly 9 mg of zinc per cup.
Cashews: Add these to your trail mix — they contain 7 mg of zinc per cup.
Beans and Lentils: A good source of vegetarian protein, black beans, cranberry beans, and red lentils all contain 7 mg of zinc per cup.10
Glowing Skin… With The Help Of Zinc
You are what you eat. So, to get glowing skin, get plenty of zinc in your diet! It’ll help stave off wrinkles, dark spots, sun damage, and acne.
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