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How does zinc benefit skin?

Zinc Foods

Not having enough zinc in your diet can have unpleasant consequences for your skin as well as for your overall health. Wounds may heal more slowly, and you may be more likely to develop skin lesions and acne. Other possible results of zinc deficiency include hair loss, weight loss, lethargy, eye problems and skin rashes [sources: MedlinePlus, Poirot].

If the potential results of zinc deficiency don't persuade you to make sure you're getting enough zinc in your diet, then you might want to consider potential benefits -- faster wound healing as well as alleviation of acne, fungal infections and other skin irritations.


Whether you want to avoid negative consequences or try to gain health advantages, the following foods can help ensure you get an adequate amount of zinc:

  • Red meats such as beef, pork, lamb and liver
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Some seafood, including oysters
  • Nuts, including peanuts and peanut butter
  • Legumes, or beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

[sources: American Academy of Family Physicians, MedlinePlus, and TeensHealth]

The best way to get adequate zinc is to eat a balanced and varied diet. But don't overdo it -- taking too much zinc can lead to unpleasant side effects, including stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea [source: MedlinePlus]. Also, it is important to note that fruits and vegetables are not a good source of zinc because the human body cannot use the zinc found in plant proteins in the same way as zinc found in animal proteins. However, fruits and vegetables supply other valuable nutrients that benefit your skin and general health, so keep them on the menu [source: MedlinePlus].

Overall, zinc constitutes an important nutrient that provides specific value to your body and your skin. Eating a balanced diet that includes zinc-rich foods will help you lead a healthier life -- with radiant, healthy skin.

For more information, follow the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Family Physicians. "Minerals." (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. "Vitamins and Minerals: What You Should Know." (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • Bouchez, Colette. "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out." WebMD. (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • Clark, Susan P. "Sunscreen and Your Makeup Routine." WebMD. (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Common Cold." February 23, 2008 (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • MedlinePlus. "Minerals." (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • MedlinePlus. "Zinc." (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • MedlinePlus. "Zinc in Diet." (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • Poirot, Lissa. "A Wrinkle in Time: Preventing Damage to Aging Skin." WebMD. (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • TeensHealth. "Vitamins and Minerals." Nemours Foundation. (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Warnings on Three Zicam Intranasal Zinc Products." (Accessed 9/25/09)
  • WebMD. "Understanding Skin Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment." (Accessed 9/25/09)