What Is The Most Important Mineral For Skin Health?
The answer is zinc.
Why Are We Zinc Deficient?
In Australia around 80% of females have a zinc deficiency and around 70% of males. Interestingly males lose zinc when they ejaculate, but the same can’t be said for females. So why are we so zinc deficient?
There are many reasons why we are zinc deficient;
- the fresh foods (fruit and vegetables) that we eat tend to contain less nutrients than they did 50 years ago. This is due to several reasons such as depletion of minerals in the soil that is not replaced, as well as the rapid growing methods that are used. Long term storage of produce may also impact upon the levels of minerals and vitamins found in our food;
- genetically we tend to inherit the mineral makeup. So if mum has a tendency towards a mineral deficiency, you may be more prone to the same deficiency;
- A condition known as Pyroluria can contribute. Pyroluria results in excessive amounts of a metabolite known as Pyrroles. Pyrolles inhibit zinc and other nutrients such as Biotin and Omega 6 GLA rendering these nutrients unavailable for use by the body;
- males lose zinc each time they ejaculate. So if your partner has a skin problem, maybe less sex would help (joke).
Sometimes it is not that we don’t have enough zinc, but that we have a problem with the zinc to copper ratio. Excessively high copper is a very common finding. A good test to establish the zinc to copper ratio is a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.
Copper can become raised when:
- there is stress. The adrenal glands and liver tend to retain copper when the body is stressed rather than excreting it. This can lead to a build up of copper;
- tap water rather than filtered water is drunk. Most people have copper water pipes in their houses, so if the water is not effectively filtered, chances are drinking tap water or using it in cooking can increase copper levels;
- we ingest food that have been treated with copper. Copper is sometimes sprayed onto vegetables as it is a fungicide. Interestingly copper fungicides are permitted for use in organic produce;
- we regularly swim in swimming pools as frequently copper fungicides are added to the water.
Why Do We Need Zinc?
Zinc is vitally important to our bodies health. In males it is particularly important to help prevent prostate problems and to produce adequate semen with strong tales to help with their prepulsion (thus it is commonly prescribed for couples who are trying to conceive).
In terms of skin health, zinc is needed for the following reasons;
- needed for wound healing. When the skin has an injury, zinc will actually travel to the area to assist with healing;
- controls the balance of TH1 and TH2 in the immune system. An imbalance of these can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis;
- helps control the skins acidity;
- supports healthy immune function;
- helps reduce allergies;
- creates a physical barrier in sun tan creams;
- adequate hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, which is needed for proper breakdown of food;
- to assist with the utilization & absorption of many other minerals in the body.
What Are The Best Sources Of Zinc
By far the best source of zinc is oysters. Oysters have around 10 times the amount of zinc than does beef and about 25 times more zinc than baked beans. So apart from oysters, here are some other sources of zinc;
- beef, pork, chicken, turkey
- prawns, clams, lobsters, crabs, tuna, haddock, sardines
- pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts
- cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, dry mustard, paprika, thyme, chilli powder
- split peas, baked beans, turnips and green peas.