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It’s a metal isn’t it? True. But it’s also one of the most important minerals contributing to good health generally and more specifically the health of your skin. Zinc plays a wide array of different functions within the body, acting as a key regulator of numerous genetic activities and supporting your immune function and insulin levels. From a skin care perspective, it’s a key mineral required by the body for the production of collagen, whilst it also acts as an astringent, anti-inflammatory and healing agent. Deficiency in zinc can lead to a range of conditions from delayed development, hair loss and lesions to fatigue, low immunity from colds and rough and itchy skin. Adult females should be incorporating an average of 8mgs of zinc a day into their diets, and men about 11mg.

Zinc aids in healing the skin and prevents acne by regulating the activity of the oil glands. Zinc promotes a healthy immune system and the healing of tissues. It is also an antioxidant which helps to fight and prevent the formation of free radicals. Acne can be a sign of Zinc deficiency.


As a regulator of genetic activity, zinc is vital to the ability of the genes within each cell’s nucleus to properly transmit and interpret instructions from each other. It’s therefore a key to the body’s everyday functioning, and when your diet is lacking in Zinc you face the possibility that the millions of instructions being fired around your body from one gene to another are misread or not read at all. Immune cells also appear to rely on zinc for optimum efficiency, and studies have shown that a deficiency in zinc can negatively impact on numbers of white blood cells in the body and as a result reduce the efficacy of the immune system. Research has also shown that Zinc is critical to the production of the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and amongst other things, assists with the movement of sugar from our bloodstream into our cells. When we are suffering from a lack of Zinc in our diets, insulin activity decreases and our blood sugar levels can destabilise and lower, leading to amongst other things lethargy, moodiness and unbalanced appetite. It can also lead to a reduced metabolic rate, a symptom of which is again lethargy and fatigue.


There is some evidence that acne may be partially associated to a reduced zinc supply within the body. The reason is thought to be related to its ability to limit oil secretion in the pores. Zinc is also known to encourage the production of collagen fibers and elastin. Both help support the underlying structure of the skin, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of ageing, and as an aid to collagen production, Zinc has been linked for many years with the treatment of burns and the reduction of scar tissue.

Oxidative stress is the process by which free radicals are produced, often as a result of external environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight and smoking. Free radicals interact with other molecules within cells which can cause damage to proteins, membranes and genes. Importantly, Zinc, as a Metallothioneine(!), has the ability to capture and reduce harmful oxidant radicals like the superoxide and hydroxyl radicals, so can reduce intracellular oxidative stress and combat the colonisation of harmful bacteria on the skin.

Zinc therefore acts is a number of ways which can help skin condition and complexion by aiding collagen production and strengthening the skin matrix, helping your skin fight free radicals, and help reduce blemishes associated with the symptoms of conditions such as acne and rosecea.

One of the difficulties with Zinc is that it is not easily absorbed by the skin. One major recent breakthrough in cosmetic science has been the ability to ‘chelate’ Zinc to other amino acids which are more easily absorbed. For instance, the Zinc used in Oskia’s products is Zinc-Glycine, where the Zinc has been grafted onto Glycine, the smallest of the amino acids, which acts as a highly effective trans-dermal carrier. By grafting Zinc onto Glycine, the ability of Zinc to be absorbed by the skin is much improved.


In addition to a diet that lacks Zinc, problems in the digestive tract can contribute to zinc deficiency. These problems include irritable and inflammatory bowel disorders, as well as insufficient output by the pancreas which prevents proper digestion of food.
Protein deficiency, and deficiency of one particular part of protein - the amino acid cysteine - can also contribute to zinc deficiency by preventing synthesis of transport and storage molecules that are used to shuttle and store zinc in the body.
Loss of zinc through chronic diarrhea or profuse sweating (as might occur with heavy physical labor or athletic training) can also contribute to deficiency of this mineral.


The Recommended Dietary Allowances for zinc, set in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, are as follows:

  • Males and females, 0-6 months: 2 milligrams
  • Males and females, 6-12 months: 3 milligrams
  • Males and females, 1-3 years: 3 milligrams
  • Males and females, 4-8 years: 5 milligrams
  • Males and females, 9-13 years: 8 milligrams
  • Males 14 years and older: 11 milligrams
  • Females 14-18 years: 9 milligrams
  • Females 19 years and older: 8 milligrams
  • Pregnant females 18 years or younger: 12 milligrams
  • Pregnant females 19 years and older: 11 milligrams
  • Lactating females 18 years or younger: 13 milligrams
  • Lactating females 19 years and older: 12 milligrams


  • Have a look at our recipe of the week. Oysters are, hands down, one of the best sources of Zinc. 1 oyster alone contains approximately 12.8 mg of Zinc. A portion of 6 oysters will provide 77mg of Zinc. As long as you don't eat oysters everyday for an extended period of time, you're unlikely to experience Zinc toxicity. For those of you who aren’t so keen on these fruits of the sea, spinach is another fantastic and healthy source. These are the 2 key ingredients we’ve based this month’s recipes on - Spinach Pastilla Pie. Other great sources of Zinc include calf’s liver, button mushrooms, beef, pumpkin seeds, ginger and asparagus.
  • For the topical benefits of Zinc, you can use a skin care range incorporating a bio-available form of Zinc, and therefore take a dual approach to ensuring that your skin is being fed with the proper amounts of this crucial mineral. Oskia’s Skinsense range features Zinc-Glycine in it’s Perfect Exfoliating Balm, Eye Wonder and Get Up & Glow. Each of those products also contains numerous other essential cell nutrients and bio-actives to build skin cell health and promote a glowing, radiant, younger-looking complexion.


Thiazide diuretics like Diuril ™ or Enduron ™ and ACE inhibitors like Capozide™ and Lotensin,™ both used to lower blood pressure, can compromise zinc status. The body's supply of zinc can also be reduced by use of antibiotics (like penicillinamine or tetracycline), ranitidine (often sold under the trade name Zantac™ and used as a stomach antacid), and oral contraceptives (birth control pills).  



Zinc-Glycine and Prebiotics

Cleansing Balm



Beauty-Boosting recipe

by Thomasina Miers

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