Little ‘ol zinc is perhaps the most important mineral for healthy glowing skin!
So How Does Zinc Help Clear Your Skin of Acne?
Let me tell you! To start, zinc is antibacterial and antimicrobial, which helps it to kill infections such as acne, on the skins surface.
It also aids tissue healing, which is great for the scars that acne leaves behind.
Zinc regulates oil production, preventing pores from getting clogged, and reduces inflammation and redness, which acne is well known for.
This incredible multi-tasking mineral also ensures the proper metabolism of testosterone, the main hormone involved in increased sebum production and acne formation.
Whew! And that’s not all…..
By releasing and transporting vitamin A stores from the liver, zinc helps carry this other incredible acne-fighting vitamin to the skin for reduced inflammation and skin repair (check out my blog post about vitamin A and why you need it for clear skin here!)
Zinc also facilitates ‘cell apoptosis’, a really sciencey word that refers to cell turnover. Every day, old cells on the surface of our skin die and flake off, and at the same time new ones grow, which is a natural part of skin renewal. If this didn’t occur, cells would stick together on our skin and clog our pores.
Wondering if you’re getting enough zinc in your diet?
These are some of the main signs of zinc deficiency:
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Frequent colds / infections
- Slow wound healing
- Loss of sense of taste and/or smell
- Mental disturbances (such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, fogginess, etc.)
- Weak or brittle nails
- White spots on nails
Those most susceptible to a deficiency are those taking the birth control pill, vegetarians, vegans, pregnant women, endurance athletes and those with gastrointestinal diseases and inflammatory bowel disorders such as IBS, Celiac and Crohn’s.
The recommended daily intake of zinc is 8mg/day for females and 11mg/day for males, but higher doses are common for those trying to clear their skin of acne.
Best Food Sources of Acne-Fighting Zinc
So what the heck does a person have to eat to get all that acne-fighting zinc action? Here’s a handy list of some of the highest food sources of the mineral (source: Self Nutrition Data), with approximate amounts of zinc measured in what is most likely to represent one serving:
- Oysters – 30mg (per 3oz / 85g)
- Oats – 6.2mg (per 1 cup)
- Beef (grass-fed) – 5mg (per 3oz / 85g)
- Kidney Beans – 4.2mg (per 1 cup)
- Lamb – 4mg (per 3oz / 85g)
- Wheat germ – 3.4mg (per 1/4 cup)
- Pumpkin seeds – 2.9mg (per 1/3 cup)
- Scallops – 2.5mg (per 3oz / 85g)
- Lentils – 2.5mg (per 1 cup)
- Chickpeas – 2.4mg (per 1 cup)
- Quinoa – 2mg (per 1 cup)
- Yogurt – 1.8mg (per 1 cup)
- Cashews – 1.6mg (per 1/3 cup)
- Chicken – 1.5mg (per 3oz / 85g)
- Tahini/sesame seed butter- 1.4mg (per 2 tablespoons)
- Spinach (cooked) – 1.4mg (per 1 cup)
- Shrimp – 1.2mg (per 3oz / 85g)
- Almonds – 1mg (per 1/3 cup)
- Dark Chocolate – 0.9mg (per 1 oz / 28g)
Oysters are by far the highest source of zinc at about 30mg zinc per 3oz serving- yowza!
But if you’re vegetarian, vegan or just like plant foods, there are still tons of options! The bad news is that zinc is less bioavailable (aka: harder for our body to absorb and utilize) in plant foods than in animal foods.
The good news is that soaking nuts, seeds, beans and legumes before cooking or eating them helps to make the zinc easier to absorb – it’s as simple as placing them in a bowl with just enough water to cover, letting it sit on your counter for a few hours while you’re enjoying life and then draining the water. Easy much?
Supplementing With Zinc
When it comes to zinc supplements, I like to look for zinc citrate, zinc acetate or zinc picolinate – these forms are supposed to be the most easily absorbed that the other form, zinc sulfate. It’s also wise to use a supplement that also includes copper, since zinc and copper both rely on and compete with each other for many bodily functions. Too much zinc, through supplementation for example, can displace copper, throw off their delicate balance and potentially cause adverse side effects. Food sources are almost always a perfect balance of zinc and copper, especially cashews and tahini!
Quick Ideas To Get More Zinc In Your Life + Some Recipes
- Keep a jar of pumpkin seeds, almonds and / or cashews on your desk for an easy snack
- Throw some tahini in your morning or workout smoothie
- Use cooked quinoa, pumpkin seeds and / or sesame seeds as a salad topper
- Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt (it’s nice and thick!), serving it on top of baked potatoes, chili or whatever!
- Have some oatmeal for breakfast, instead of sugary cereal, muffins, toast and bagels
- Sprinkle wheat germ on whole grain cereal, oatmeal or yogurt
Cashew Milk Recipe
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
- 4 cups water
- 3 dates, pitted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon and/or nutmeg (optional)
- Drain the cashews and rinse until the water runs clear
- Blend everything together in a blender until fully combined and liquefied (with a regular powered blender, this could take up to 3 minutes or more)
- Strain mixture through cheese cloth, a strainer or nut bag to filter out any remaining solids and bits of cashew and dates
- Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days
- Hint: if you prefer creamier milk, just use less water!
Easy Oatmeal Recipe
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 cups water or non-dairy milk (ie: hemp, coconut, cashew, almond, rice milk)
- Some options that are fun to try:
- Optional sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia (don’t use too much!)
- Optional booster ingredients: flaxseeds, chia seeds, wheat germ, walnuts, protein powder, butter, spices (ie: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves) and/or fruit (ie: chopped apple, pear, raisins, dried cranberries)
- Make it tropical: add some shredded coconut, cashews and chopped mango!
- Make it mega-protein: add a fried egg a some avocado slices!
- Combine rolled oats and water/non-dairy milk in a saucepan
- Place on stove element at medium heat and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat and let simmer until all the liquid is absorbed
- Stir in flavours and ingredients of your choice and enjoy!
Kidney Bean Chili Recipe
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup water or broth, plus more as needed
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 28oz can crushed or chopped tomatoes
- 2 14oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt (optional)
- Heat oil and water or broth in large pot over medium-high heat.
- Sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and bell pepper, stirring frequently and cooking until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add more water or broth if necessary, to prevent vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the oregano, cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Mix well with vegetables and let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, kidney beans and enough water to almost cover everything. Decrease heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the coconut sugar, tamari, apple cider vinegar and optional sea salt. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
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PS – if you haven’t heard yet, I recently released the second edition of my eBook “Food For Your Face: Clearing Your Skin From The Outside“, full of easy DIY beauty product recipes that you can make at home with food that’s probably already sitting in your kitchen. Food For Your Face eBook Sample and buy it now by clicking here!
Disclaimer: The information contained within this document is for educational and informational purposes only. It is meant to inspire and motivate readers to make healthy choices and is intended for general well-being and education – it is not intended to be used as medical advice and is not a substitute for medical services. I, the author of Date With Your Plate, am not a medical professional and none of the statements on this site are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult with a qualified health care professional before starting on any health plan.