ASCP Skin Deep

MAY | JUNE 2016

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Page 27 of 68 25 expertadvice FEED YOUR FACE ink Zinc Even a small amount of this mineral can combat skin inflammation by Alex Caspero Does adequate consumption of zinc equal healthy skin? Does zinc deficiency equate to chronic acne? The answer to both questions is yes, but the relationship is muddy. People who suffer from inflammatory skin diseases tend to have lower levels of zinc in their body; whether this deficiency is from zinc being used to combat inflammation, or low zinc in the diet is one of the causes of the inflammation, is not yet known. Regardless of the mechanism, we know zinc plays a vital role in skin health. Similar to an antioxidant, zinc helps heal and rejuvenate skin. The mineral reduces the formation of harmful free radicals and protects skin when it's exposed to pollution, ultraviolet light, and other skin-agers. Zinc also helps facilitate apoptosis—programmed cell death—which is a natural part of skin renewal. In individuals with a zinc deficiency, skin cells stick together instead of dying and sloughing off as they should. This buildup of bacteria, oil, and skin cells blocks pores, causing the skin to turn red, swollen, and tender. Eventually, acne forms. Because zinc regulates cell production and turnover, it can help naturally reduce the amount of oil your skin produces, possibly preventing clogged pores in the first place. You don't need a significant amount of zinc to reap the skin-clearing benefits. Men should aim for at least 11 milligrams per day, while women only need 8 milligrams per day. Best sources include crab, lobster, oysters, and most meats. For vegetarians and mostly plant eaters, you can find zinc in beans, cheese, fortified cereals, lentils, and yogurt. However, for increased absorption, animal protein is superior to plant-based sources. Phytates, which are antioxidant compounds found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, can decrease zinc absorption. If these foods are your primary zinc sources, you can increase absorption by sprouting or adding in fermented foods at the same meal. For instance, sprouted wheat cereal will have more readily absorbable zinc than traditional cereals. While this isn't a concern for most of the population, if you feel you are deficient in zinc, consider adding in sprouted versions of your favorite cereals and grains or a daily zinc supplement.

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