Along with vitamin E, zinc is the single most important nutrient for clearing acne, and getting a skin tone leagues beyond what many believe possible.
For acne, zinc has one powerful benefit which stands above the rest – an ability to control the immune system. Zinc supplements constrain the pro-inflammatory response to the bacteria in your skin pores, the inflammatory response which leads to all acne forming in the first place.
However, there’s also a series of secondary benefits, such as enhancing the transportation of vitamin A (excellent for oily skin) in the bloodstream. Along with magnesium, zinc is also a co-factor in the production of glutathione, a massively important antioxidant for acne. Zinc can even reduce depression by altering neurotransmitters, and zinc deficiency is associated with poor memory.
The statistics on zinc deficiency aren’t particularly horrifying, but low levels are widespread enough that you could easily need more, and that’s why this article will cover the 7 greatest zinc supplements available today.
Zinc is a particularly popular mineral, recommended for keeping colds at bay, so cheap and poorly formulated products are everywhere. Never exceed 150mg of zinc per day; it’s easy to stay within the limit with the 15mg-30mg supplements recommended here. For a shortcut, Pure Encapsulations and Garden Of Life are the greatest brands.
Let’s get started:
One – NutraBio
The only ingredient other than zinc is vegetable cellulose, the ingredient of the tiny, easy to swallow capsule. NutraBio contains a 120 day supply for a very low price, without sacrificing potency; each capsule contains 50mg of zinc, equivalent to 333% of the RDI. You could even halve the dosage and you’d have an 8 month supply.
The zinc itself is in the well-absorbed zinc gluconate form. Like with magnesium, there’s a seemingly endless list of zinc forms, whether it’s inorganic zinc or chelated zinc, but zinc gluconate is among the better ones. This compound is essentially zinc bound to glucose molecules. It’s perhaps the most popular supplemental form of zinc alongside the feeble zinc oxide. According to one study, zinc gluconate has a bioavailability of 61% in the human digestive system, equal to zinc citrate (61%) and beating zinc oxide easily (49.9%).
This brand is slightly less bioavailable than Pure Encapsulations or Thorne Research, with their zinc piliconate, but NutraBio succeeds wildly as an affordable and pure zinc which will last for months.
Other cheap brands exist, but they’re riddled with problems like poorly absorbed zinc oxide, and sometimes up to ten ingredients. The ultimate NutraBio zinc is their L-optizinc, but for some reason, it keeps disappearing.
If you’re starved of cash but determined to increase your zinc levels, NutraBio is my number one recommendation.
Amazon link: NutraBio Zinc Gluconate.
Two – Garden Of Life
Perhaps the best zinc supplement on the planet. Firstly, Garden Of Life meets all the basic requirements for acne. The dosage is strong, at 15mg per capsule, with 60 capsules per bottle. The only additive is vegetable cellulose and organic rice for the capsule.
Most importantly, the zinc itself is derived from food, which eliminates any need to analyse and choose the correct type, like glycinate or orotate. We are designed to obtain minerals from food and Garden Of Life replicates this, in a highly condensed form.
Better yet, Garden Of Life comes with a bonus 30mg of vitamin C per capsule. That’s 50% of the daily intake, equivalent to 50 grams of strawberries. Vitamin C is another vital nutrient for acne, as it suppresses the stress hormone cortisol and is vital for making collagen, the chief structural component of all human skin.
It doesn’t end there; there’s a bonus blend of highly condensed raw fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, asparagus, and kale. Each fruit and vegetable is organic, and there’s even a probiotic blend with various species of beneficial bacteria. This supplement is the arch enemy of your acne, but if you’re only interested in the zinc, it’s perfect.
Are there any downsides? A slight risk of an allergy, because of the fruit and vegetable blend; check the list to ensure that it’s safe for you.
For raw, acne-clearing power, Garden Of Life is impossible to beat.
Amazon link: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc.
Three – Pure Encapsulations
Firstly, the ingredients are minimal, being just hypoallergenic plant fiber (cellulose), ascorbyl palmitate, and the vegetarian capsule (cellulose, water). Pure Encapsulations contains no magnesium stearate, an anti-adhesive additive which may decrease nutrient absorption. The capsules are also particuarly small, and the product has been tested for toxic heavy metals like cadmium.
But why does Pure Encapsulations really stand out? Because it’s both pure and in the best form of zinc known to mankind, zinc piliconate. This master zinc has been tested against zinc citrate and zinc gluconate, two effective forms themselves, and found to be the most bioavailable.
Zinc piliconate is nothing but a combination of zinc with piliconic acid, a metabolite of dietary amino acids like tryptophan. Piliconic acid is a natural chelator, designed to bind to and transport compounds in the body, and that feature allows zinc piliconate to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream with ease.
Each capsule of Pure Encapsulations contains 30mg of zinc piliconate, which is double the normal dosage. You can take one capsule daily for a higher dosage to ensure that your digestive system isn’t destroying too much of it, or one capsule every two days for the RDI and over a year’s worth of supply. Pure Encapsulations is free from all inflammatory additives: soy, corn, wheat, and artificial sweeteners and colours are completely absent.
Garden Of Life is the ultimate zinc supplement for bonus nutrition, while Pure Encapsulations is the ultimate pure zinc supplement.
Amazon link: Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate.
Four – Pure Micronutrients
Compared to magnesium glycinate, a virtually identical proposition, zinc glycinate is relatively uncommon, but being bound to such an essential amino acid like glycinate increases absorption in the digestive system excellently. Glycine also has bonus powers for acne, such as 1) increasing glutathione production, 2) reducing chronic inflammation, and 3) regulating the neurotransmitters necessary for sleep.
Elsewhere, Pure Micronutrients lives up to its name. This zinc contains no inflammatory additives: the ingredients list reads l-leucine, gelatin capsule, and cellulose. Pure Micronutrients contains no allergens like corn, soy or wheat and magnesium stearate is absent.
The dosage is above average, at 25mg per capsule (167% of the RDI), while the bottle contains 120 capsules. Take one capsule every two days and you have an 8 month supply. The capsule is made from gelatin, so Pure Micronutrients has the small downside of not being vegan.
Pure Micronutrients is another hidden zinc brand which is nevertheless among the best sold today.
Amazon link: Pure Micronutrients Zinc Supplement.
Five – Thorne Research
Thorne Research is a company which can always be counted upon for pure supplements. Like Pure Encapsulations, it’s a hardcore, pure zinc supplement with none of the fancy bonus nutrition of Garden Of Life.
Thorne Research contains zinc piliconate once again. The additives are safe, being microcrystalline cellulose, leucine, silicon dioxide, and the hypromellose capsule. Supposedly, 15% of Thorne Research’s staff is dedicated to quality control, with teams hunting down the purest ingredients from across the planet.
Meanwhile, the dosage is 30mg, twice the recommended daily intake. Thorne Research contains 180 capsules, giving you a 6 month supply or more if you halve the dosage. What are your directions with zinc? Take it for at least 8 weeks before passing judgement.
You may notice reductions in acne or improvements in your mood within 2 weeks, but we have clear support for being patient from studies. One detected a reduction in acne of 49.8% after taking zinc gluconate, but only after 3 months. In another study, total acne lesions fell by a third after 6 weeks. Always be patient with zinc, regardless of the form.
Thorne Research zinc is very close to Pure Encapsulations in terms of quality, making it an excellent reserve brand in case the latter becomes unavailable.
Amazon link: Thorne Research Double Strength Zinc Picolinate.
Six – Dr Mercola
Another top quality zinc supplement with no fillers and no flaws. Dr Mercola’s zinc supplement contains 3 different forms of the mineral: zinc citrate, zinc gluconate and zinc amino acid chelate. The former is a combination of zinc molecules with citric acid, which is well absorbed and approximately equal to gluconate. The amino acid chelate will also succeed, as chelated forms of zinc are much more bioavaiable.
With Dr Mercola, if you have a unique digestive system or weird genetics which makes one form of zinc fail, you instantly have another form waiting to step in. The overall zinc dosage is 30mg per capsule, with 30 capsules per bottle, so halve the dosage and you’ll have a 60 day supply for a relatively low price.
The ingredients are minimal, being microcrystalline cellulose, the capsule, and ascorbyl palmitate, a form of vitamin C used to maintain freshness. There’s no magnesium stearate nor soy to be found.
For those reasons, Dr Mercola stands above the dozens of other zinc supplements on the market.
Amazon link: Dr. Mercola Zinc Complex.
Seven – MegaFood
MegaFood is like a stripped down version of Garden Of Life. There’s no vitamin C, but its zinc is in an organically bound food form, bound to yeast. There’s a bonus fruit and vegetable blend, although it lacks the diversity of Garden Of Life’s. The additives are minimal, being silica, cellulose, and stearic acid. Like Garden Of Life, each bottle contains 60 tablets, with the dosage being slightly higher at 22.5mg of zinc per tablet.
The bottle is also glass, with an UV protective dark colour to prevent the bonus ingredients from oxidising. A slight downside is that MegaFood comes in tablets rather than capsules, and not small ones, but once you’ve eaten them, MegaFood will eliminate acne with ease.
Overall, MegaFood is beaten by Garden Of Life, but remains an excellent natural zinc supplement.
Amazon link: MegaFood Zinc.
Top food sources of zinc
Zinc isn’t the hardest mineral to obtain from foods (magnesium has that unfortunate honour), but it isn’t as easy as selenium either. Here are the ultimate acne-friendly zinc sources:
Oysters – if you’re obsessed with seafood then oysters cannot be beaten, for they are the equivalent of Brazil nuts for selenium. A meal of oysters weighing in at 100 grams contains 90.8mg of zinc, or 605% of the daily allowance. Eat oysters twice weekly and your mission is almost complete. Warning: always cook your oysters. Don’t get tempted to suck them directly out of the shell, no matter how fun it is, for raw oysters commonly contain infections.
Most free-range, high quality meats – beef, lamb, pork, chicken or even an alligator steak are fairly rich in zinc. Animal foods are the greatest source in general, although plant sources do exist (keep reading). The catch is that you cannot buy an everyday value pork chop or let Ronald McDonald fulfill your meat requirements – your beef and lamb should be grass-fed, or at least partially grass-fed, while your chicken, pork and turkey must be free range.
Pumpkin seeds – this healthy snack has a reputation as a great zinc source and an acne-clearing weapon, and it’s partially true. 50 grams of raw pumpkin seeds contains 5.1mg of zinc, or 34% of the daily allowance. The obstacle? Pumpkin seeds are also quite high in omega 6s, lectins, and phytates, so keep your intake limited. Restrict unnecessary sources of omega 6s like vegetable oils and you’ll have room for more. One of the top vegan sources of zinc.
Almonds – another decent vegan source. 50 grams of almonds contains 24% of the RDI for zinc, as well as 65% of the RDI for vitamin E, a huge amount. The downsides are identical to pumpkin seeds, omega 6s and lectins, so restrict your intake or else.
Zinc is a mineral which almost every acne patient could benefit from, and if you’re convinced that you need it, your path is now clear.
There’s three clear categories to choose from. You have NutraBio for an affordable, yet pure and highly bioavailable supplement. You have Pure Encapsulations for the most bioavailable pure zinc on the market, and Garden Of Life for an acne-clearing sledgehammer of a supplement.
That said, every single zinc supplement here will improve your acne. The same cannot be said for bargain basement supermarket pills; poorly absorbed zinc oxide is everywhere. The same applies to cheap multivitamins. On the other hand, a high quality multivitamin could make a zinc supplement unnecessary.
You are now one step closer to defeating acne forever.
Thanks for reading!