The Use of Zinc for Teenage Acne
While exercise, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are all healthy habits that can aid in the treatment of acne, getting the required amounts of key nutrients like vitamin A and zinc are essential to fighting acne and reversing its effects. The antioxidant zinc aids in the healing of tissue, as well as prevents scarring. Zinc may also help the body resist infection.
Zinc aids in wound healing by maintaining the integrity of the skin. The mineral is an anti-inflammatory agent that relieves the discomfort associated with irritated skin tissue. Most importantly, zinc plays a key role in the function of the body's immune system, primarily developing and activating T-lymphocytes present in inflamed acne lesions.
Zinc boosts the effectiveness of vitamin A, also known as retinol. Vitamin A is naturally found in food sources such as liver, fish oil and dairy products, as well as in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, yams, cantaloupe and apricots. Green vegetables such as kale and spinach also have high levels of vitamin A. In addition, the vitamin is contained in many prescription acne products.
Dietary sources of zinc include eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Whole grains, nuts, fish, oysters, lean red meat and lean poultry meat are other food sources for zinc. The good news is that even in trace amounts the mineral zinc can boost the immune response.
Essential Fatty Acids
You may be able to control the spread of acne by taking zinc along with eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil are both excellent sources of these essential fatty acids, which aid in diluting oily sebum, thereby reducing the chances of clogged pores. Fish and nuts are some of the most common foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Taking cod liver oil as an omega-3 supplement may also be beneficial. Essential fatty acids work with the nutrients zinc and vitamin A to treat chemical imbalances, which can be one of the underlying causes of acne.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
Because the body has no way to store zinc, a daily intake of the mineral is required. The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies recommends a daily allowance of zinc of 11 mg for teenage males and 9 mg for teenage females ages 14 to 18 years old. The Recommended Dietary Allowance refers to the daily intake of the mineral sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of most healthy individuals.
While most Americans consume the required amounts of zinc in their diets, in some cases, such as for acne, zinc supplementation may be beneficial and recommended. According to a U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine dietary supplement fact sheet, you should not take more than 40 mg of zinc daily. For individuals under age 19, up to 30 mg per day is usually recommended to avoid side effects. The American Zinc Association points out that therapeutic doses of supplemental zinc generally range from 20 to 30 mg a day. Supplementing with higher doses, especially doses over 100 mg daily, can actually depress the immune system. The safest thing to do is to take any vitamin supplements under the guidance of a physician.
Because you can become copper deficient when taking zinc supplements, your doctor may recommend that you take the required dose of zinc in combination with 5 mg of copper. Long-term use of zinc supplementation inhibits copper absorption, which can cause anemia. In order to decrease zinc's negative effect on copper absorption, many of the dietary supplements for zinc contain copper.
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