Zinc for Acne: Why It Works and How to Get More?

If you have acne, one thing you should probably do is consume more zinc. There have been many studies that prove zinc can help with acne. Zinc is one of the crucial minerals we need. As a mineral, it is normally present in our body. Some of the roles of zinc involve helping with cellular reactions, maintaining different systems, and killing certain disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Zinc plays a large role in making of our DNA.

Studies have shown that people with acne have low levels of zinc. With that in mind, let’s take a look how zinc for acne helps, and what the science says.

The scientific backup

As mentioned previously, there are a number of studies that show the beneficial effects of zinc for acne.

Let’s start with a study from Turkey, which compared levels of zinc and acne in patients. The study included 150 people, out of which 94 had acne problems, and 56 had clear skin [1]. They were divided into groups of severe and moderate acne problems.  The results show that as zinc levels go down, acne problems goes up. An average person with acne problems has 24% lower zinc levels than a person without any acne.

Another study looked at the effects of zinc supplements for acne. In the study, more than 300 patients received zinc supplements. The results showed that after 3 months, the total pimples reduced by almost 50% by taking zinc supplements [2]. Treatment success rate was at 30%.

Another study conducted in 2010 showed an 80% reductio) of acne thanks to zinc supplements [3]. They used a different zinc supplement. All of these studies show that zinc can vastly help with your acne problem. You should either consume it through zinc rich foods, or by taking some zinc supplements.

How zinc helps acne problems

Studies have shown that zinc for acne is a great remedy [4]. But exactly how zinc helps with your acne problems [5]? Here are some ways zinc can prevent and treat acne problems.

  • Zinc helps by killing acne-causing bacteria [6]. It is not as effective as antibiotics in killing bacteria, but zinc is still useful. More importantly, bacteria cannot develop resistance to zinc
  • Zinc reduces inflammatory response to bacteria [7]. The reason why pimples turn red is because bacteria invade a blocked pore and cause irritation. Zinc can reduce that irritation, which will make your skin look healthy and clear
  • Another reason why zinc for acne is great is because the mineral helps with absorption of other important minerals and vitamins. For example, zinc helps our body absorb vitamin E, a crucial vitamin in treating acne
  • Zinc also reduces the effect hormones have on skin. We know that hormonal imbalance can often cause acne, as evidenced by puberty and women during their cycles. Skin reduces that effect
  • Last, but not least, zinc is a powerful antioxidant that prevents free radicals from doing damage to the skin [8].

Are you prone to zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency is not as common as iron deficiency, but it is still something to think about. Patients who are on dialysis, diabetics, HIV positive, people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, people suffering from conditions preventing from absorbing nutrients, and alcoholics are prone to being zinc deficient. Here are the symptoms of zinc deficiency:

  • Delayed wound healing
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • Abnormal sense of taste (zinc plays a role in regularizing taste receptors)
  • Muscle ache
  • Weakened immune response
  • Messed up and blurry vision
  • Trouble concentrating and focusing
  • White spots on your fingernails
  • Dry skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Low sex drive
  • Hair loss
  • And of course, acne

Zinc rich foods

The ideal amount of zinc for acne you need is between 15 and 30 milligrams. However, the amount depends on your diet, and the severity of the problem. If you eat plenty of meat and you avoid grains and beans, you are probably good without supplements. If that is not the case, you might need 10-15mg of zinc supplements per day to take care of your acne problem. That being said, let’s take a look at some zinc rich foods on the market.


This is the best source of zinc you can find on the market. As said previously, meat is a great source of zinc, and lamb is on the top of that. Lamb contains almost 7mg of zinc in a 3 ounces portion, which is almost half of the zinc you need. Lamb also contains minerals and vitamins like selenium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.


When you look at beef, make sure you get a portion of grass-fed beef. If that is the case, a 100mg portion will deliver 4.5mg of zinc, or one third of the daily value. Grass-fed beef is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other minerals and vitamins that help with cancer prevention and reduce risk of heart diseases.


Chicken is probably one of the most affordable lean meats you can get. There is a reason why bodybuilders consume a lot of chicken. It is cheap meat, yet, nutrient dense. In terms of zinc, 100g of chicken meat deliver 1mg of zinc. But you also get a lot of protein, vitamin B, and pantothenic acid. Chicken helps with your energy levels and maintaining proper heart health.

Pumpkin seeds

Pounce for pounce, pumpkin seeds are probably the best source of zinc. However, it is fair to say you are probably not getting 1 cup of pumpkin seeds per day. Just for info, one cup of pumpkin seeds gives you  6.6mg of zinc, or 44% of the daily value. In addition to helping with your acne problem, pumpkin seeds help with prevention of breast cancer, and improve mental health.


All legumes help with digestion and energy. Chickpeas, in that regard, are even better, as they contain a high amount of zinc. To be precise, one cup of chickpeas contains 2.5mg of zinc. In addition to solving your acne problem, chickpeas help with weight loss and improved digestion.


Nuts are a great source of zinc, and cashews are probably the best option there. One ounce of cashews means 1.6mg of zinc, which is 11% of the daily dose you need. In addition to zinc, cashews are also high in unsaturated fatty acids and protein, making them ideal for preventing heart diseases. Cashews also reduce inflammation and promote bone health.

Cocoa powder

If there was ever a good reason to consume chocolate, that is now. One of the biggest warning signs you’ll see is that chocolate leads to acne problem. But that is if you consume regular milk chocolate. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is rich in cocoa powder, and that means zinc. One ounce of cocoa powder delivers 1.9mg of zinc. Go for that dark chocolate.


Mushrooms have been proven to boost immunity as they are high in antioxidants. In terms of zinc, they are a decent source, but not so great. One cup of mushrooms gives you 1.4mg of zinc, which is less than 10% of the daily value. However, remember, that in the battle with acne, every little bit helps.


Same as mushrooms, spinach gives you less than 10% of the daily value in one cup. But what spinach does is provide a nutrient dense meal. Spinach contains carotenoids that prevent risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes. Packed with vitamins and minerals, spinach is a must if you want zinc for acne.

Kefir or Yogurt

Kefir and yogurt are probiotics that you just have to get on your daily menu. They improve the digestion and boost the immune system, all while providing some minerals and vitamins for you. In terms of zinc, one cup of kefir or yogurt delivers around 10% of the daily value. It all depends on the yogurt and kefir you are consuming.

Zinc for Acne: Why It Works and How to Get More?

Source :
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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