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Acne: Forced to Take Nasty Zinc Pills for Life?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM

In February, I gave in to supplements and began taking 50mg zinc daily. My skin looked amazing: acne disappeared and skin became smooth.

In May I stopped taking the pills because I don't think this form of zinc is healthy. I began eating 200 grams raw lamb liver weekly.

My skin has deteriorated.

What's going on?

Other details

  • Controlling insulin resistance has greatly helped with my acne. Taking a gram of cinnamon after each meal works like a miracle.

  • Resistance training breaks me out.

  • For a year now, I've been eating a very strict, very clean paleo diet and I have eliminated all intolerances. This has helped a lot.

Meal example

Breakfast nothing (I practice intermittent fasting)

Lunch chicken, leafy greens, fruit, cinnamon

Snack five eggs scrambled in coconut or macadamia oil

Supper fish or red meat, leafy greens, sweet potato or plantains, cinnamon

Supplements bone broth monthly, raw liver weekly, tablespoon of turmeric every other day, apple cider vinegar almost daily.

What should I do? I've been fighting my acne for years and I feel like I'm close to the solution. Clean diet + controlling insulin resistance is key, but I'm still breaking out and skin is looking rough without supplemental zinc. What should I do about this?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on July 21, 2013
at 12:37 AM

The OP has now had blood test done & posted the results here http://paleohacks.com/questions/201420/help-me-understamd-my-blood-test-results-acne-sex-drive-problems

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on June 26, 2013
at 12:10 AM

i have also read that excess copper (&/or copper too high relative to zinc) can reduce sex drive, which would fit with your other question http://paleohacks.com/questions/198266/hack-my-low-sex-drive-insulin-related

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:35 PM

the only other things I can ask about are your digestion - is it good? ever constipated? have gas? do you eat fermented foods? it takes time to reshape your gut flora if you had something which may have disturbed it, so sometimes it just takes time too.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:34 PM

sorry, the organix urine test for vitamins/minerals and gi effects for gut status or presence of bad bacteria. Also, perfect health diet advises avoiding fruit except as a snack - don't eat fructose at the same time as your regular meal. But you may be deficient in B5, biotin, b12, b1, b2, b6, glutathione, etc. and you may find some of their supplements to help, in conjunction with a doctor. otherwise, as i can tell you, you may drive yourself crazy conjecturing about this and that.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:31 PM

I mean, we don't know all your medical history, so I can really just advise you to keep doing the Perfect Health Diet and try to work a metametrix doctor on the health of your body - like an organix urine test for vitamin/mineral status and the status of your gut. it's possible, even with paleo, to have nutritional deficiencies or imbalances and even seeing the foods you eat, there's no way for us to say if your body is absorbing them or not.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:29 PM

I think of beef/lamb liver more for copper and iron absorption than for zinc. Beef/lamb liver is a source, but not an outstanding source of zinc like say oysters

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:28 PM

So yes, it contains zinc, but more copper. The attached chart shows that zinc will fight with copper for absorption. http://www.scielo.br/img/revistas/rbca/v10n2/01f1.gif

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:25 PM

A 3 oz. serving of lamb contains 118 calories, 17.33 grams of protein, 4.27 g of fat and 1.51 g of carbohydrates. On the downside, this serving size provides 316 mg of cholesterol, which is 116 mg about the recommended 200 mg per day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Mineral content includes 6 mg of calcium, 6.27 mg of iron, 16 mg of magnesium, 310 mg of phosphorus, 266 mg of potassium, 60 mg of sodium, 3.96 mg of zinc, 5.936 mg of copper and 70.1 micrograms of selenium. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/533216-nutrients-of-lamb-liver-vs-calf-liver/#ixzz2Wn3CwcLr

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:22 PM

I try to eat locally as much as possible and I avoid canned/frozen foods. Are there any other foods besides seafood that are high in zinc?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:20 PM

Matt, I've read (from sites like whfoods.com) that liver is high in zinc. Is that incorrect information?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:18 PM

I haven't tried b5 and l-carnitine supplements. I'll read up on them, though I'd think they'd be covered by the liver, right?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:14 PM

Carbohydrate sources: local tropical fruits (mango, banana, guava, watermelon, etc), sweet potato, plantains, and occasionally nuts. I've checked out the Perfect Health Diet. Except for the supplements, that's exactly how I eat.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:09 PM

Since eating paleo (over a year now), acne is no longer all over my face. When I do break out, it's a few painful cysts and pustules on my cheeks and forehead. I wash my face twice a week with water only after pampering it with a homemade avocado/honey mask. I use nothing else on my face. For my hair I stick to avocado and coconut oil. I've eliminated all known allergens, including toothpaste and shampoo. I still use commercial lotion for my body because I've yet to find a suitable alternative.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:02 PM

The food I put in my body affects my acne; it took me a long time to acknowledge this. I've tried to share this knowledge with friends, but it's hard for them to accept because diet changes aren't easy. I definitely try to get as much sunshine as I can.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 20, 2013
at 02:46 PM

They need not be raw, cooked/canned/frozen oysters/mussels/clams would be just fine.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 20, 2013
at 02:44 PM

I'm a bit confused with your actions. You were supplementing Zinc and then stopped that and replaced it with liver, which is low in Zinc and high in Copper?

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5

on June 20, 2013
at 01:31 PM

have you tried 500mg - 1g of b5 and 500mg of l-carnitine yet? some people, me included, break out at the littlest stressors.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:30 PM

I haven't tried probiotics. Will get on it. Fresh oysters and mussels are not available in my country. Any alternatives?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:29 PM

Fresh oysters and mussels are not available in my country. Any alternatives?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:28 PM

Fresh oysters and mussels are simply not available in my area. In supermarkets I've seen packets of frozen oysters coming from India - no thanks.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:12 PM

Good idea about eating small amounts of liver daily!

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7 Answers

1
8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 03:23 PM

what kind of "acne" are we talking? Is it all over your body and face? cheeks, forehead, mouth area, neck or body? Concentrated in one or two of those areas more than others? Is your acne pustules? cysts? small bumps that are not visible until you're close?

Do you have any allergies? Are you still using commercial beauty products like lotions, shampoo, toothpaste, all of which can have allergens?

you still never answer anyone's question about why you stopped supplementing zinc...it's possible your zinc/copper ratio is not in balance and yes, lamb liver is high in that. why you're eating it raw i'm not sure - it can have parasites, no?

also where are your sources of carbohydrates - potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, taro, plantains, tapioca, etc. ?

I recommend checking out the Perfect Health Diet (perfecthealthdiet.com), and eating according to their regimen, and their supplements.

It seems likely you're either deficient in some vitamins or minerals (yes, even eating paleo), or imbalanced in some (like too much copper, maybe not enough zinc), and I would also recommend getting a metametrix gi effects test, to see if you have enough good bacteria or if you have any bad bacteria, parasites, etc. A naturopath or metametrix can help you find a doctor in your area.

don't overdose on anything - be as moderate in possible about what you eat. it's possible that eating more of X,Y, Z that you didn't eat pre-paleo in huge amounts is actually making your acne worse. just because the food is paleo-approved doesn't mean your body is capable of processing it well at this particular moment in time.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:31 PM

I mean, we don't know all your medical history, so I can really just advise you to keep doing the Perfect Health Diet and try to work a metametrix doctor on the health of your body - like an organix urine test for vitamin/mineral status and the status of your gut. it's possible, even with paleo, to have nutritional deficiencies or imbalances and even seeing the foods you eat, there's no way for us to say if your body is absorbing them or not.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:35 PM

the only other things I can ask about are your digestion - is it good? ever constipated? have gas? do you eat fermented foods? it takes time to reshape your gut flora if you had something which may have disturbed it, so sometimes it just takes time too.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:09 PM

Since eating paleo (over a year now), acne is no longer all over my face. When I do break out, it's a few painful cysts and pustules on my cheeks and forehead. I wash my face twice a week with water only after pampering it with a homemade avocado/honey mask. I use nothing else on my face. For my hair I stick to avocado and coconut oil. I've eliminated all known allergens, including toothpaste and shampoo. I still use commercial lotion for my body because I've yet to find a suitable alternative.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:34 PM

sorry, the organix urine test for vitamins/minerals and gi effects for gut status or presence of bad bacteria. Also, perfect health diet advises avoiding fruit except as a snack - don't eat fructose at the same time as your regular meal. But you may be deficient in B5, biotin, b12, b1, b2, b6, glutathione, etc. and you may find some of their supplements to help, in conjunction with a doctor. otherwise, as i can tell you, you may drive yourself crazy conjecturing about this and that.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:14 PM

Carbohydrate sources: local tropical fruits (mango, banana, guava, watermelon, etc), sweet potato, plantains, and occasionally nuts. I've checked out the Perfect Health Diet. Except for the supplements, that's exactly how I eat.

1
Medium avatar

(4878)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:15 PM

Probiotics? If you haven't been supplementing with saurkraut or water kefer, I'd work those into your daily schedule. Also, I've found that acne below my nose is hormone related, above is probiotic related...

I'd also add raw oysters/mussels to your menu for Zinc and Copper. There is no need to supplement if you have metals in your diet.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:28 PM

Fresh oysters and mussels are simply not available in my area. In supermarkets I've seen packets of frozen oysters coming from India - no thanks.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 20, 2013
at 02:46 PM

They need not be raw, cooked/canned/frozen oysters/mussels/clams would be just fine.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:30 PM

I haven't tried probiotics. Will get on it. Fresh oysters and mussels are not available in my country. Any alternatives?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:22 PM

I try to eat locally as much as possible and I avoid canned/frozen foods. Are there any other foods besides seafood that are high in zinc?

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:29 PM

Fresh oysters and mussels are not available in my country. Any alternatives?

1
C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

on June 20, 2013
at 01:08 PM

Is there a specific reason you don't think the supplemental zinc is healthy? Any side effects you were noticing from it? If not, and it's just a matter of wanting to get nutrients from food over supplements, I'd say don't sweat it and take the supplements. Quite frankly, our world is not like it was in the Paleolithic Era, so supplementing to get the same nutrients and minerals we got naturally from the environment then is quite okay now, at least in my opinion.

One thought though: you mentioned that you were taking the zinc supplement daily but when you switched to liver you were eating it once a week, right? Maybe it's got something to do with the daily consistency of getting a little zinc into your system every day? You could try eating a smaller portion of liver every day instead of a larger portion once a week.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 01:12 PM

Good idea about eating small amounts of liver daily!

0
543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on June 25, 2013
at 11:36 PM

(repost of my answer from Jun 22 2013 which got lost during PH site issues)

At a guess (& it is just a guess), acne in your case may be due to excess copper.
& by supplementing 50 mg zinc per day, you drove your copper levels down (ref#1).
& now that you have stopped the zinc supp & increased your copper intake (via the lamb's liver) your copper level has increased again (& your zinc level possibly decreased).

From what i have read copper excess/overload/toxicity is more common in women than men (google for refs).
Probably a good idea to get your blood levels checked to find out, then you can adjust your intakes of copper & zinc if required. Ask for 'serum copper' and ceruloplasmin. Need to get both, serum copper alone will not give you the full picture (you can still have a copper overload even with a low serum-copper result, the ceruloplasmin helps complete the picture). & ask for a zinc blood test as well for reference if you can. Zinc blood tests are not a great indication of true zinc levels, but still worth getting if you can.

ref#1 High supplemental zinc intakes of 50 mg/day or more for extended periods of time may result in copper deficiency. High dietary zinc increases the synthesis of an intestinal cell protein called metallothionein, which binds certain metals and prevents their absorption by trapping them in intestinal cells. Metallothionein has a stronger affinity for copper than zinc, so high levels of metallothionein induced by excess zinc cause a decrease in copper absorption. In contrast, high copper intakes have not been found to affect zinc nutritional status (2, 5).

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on June 26, 2013
at 12:10 AM

i have also read that excess copper (&/or copper too high relative to zinc) can reduce sex drive, which would fit with your other question http://paleohacks.com/questions/198266/hack-my-low-sex-drive-insulin-related

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on July 21, 2013
at 12:37 AM

The OP has now had blood test done & posted the results here http://paleohacks.com/questions/201420/help-me-understamd-my-blood-test-results-acne-sex-drive-problems

0
2abc7edf08d56505e360c1912008a0f5

on June 20, 2013
at 09:10 PM

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon and fish oil supplements), antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, as well as flavonoids found in red wine, colorful fruits and vegetables, and green tea, all may have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin. Selenium and zinc may also be beneficial, as could a high-fiber diet, though all three require further study.

0
197651282ddd8d675b974ee811d2269e

on June 20, 2013
at 08:21 PM

What form of zinc did you take to control the acne? I don't have an answer for you, unfortunately. I haven't figured out why my face breaks out but it seems to be worse when I don't wash with a fairly strong cleanser.

0
6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

on June 20, 2013
at 07:41 PM

It can be tough. 3 of my children are on acne treatment and two of them for some years. I don't like any of us taking anything (I don't even take headache pills and I've never even taken the contraceptive pill). However if they stop they really do look bad. Some of them certainly say if they eat better the skin gets a bit better though so I suspect they could manage it better with food.

It sounds like you are doing very well to control it in a better way (than antibiotics and skin creams). I am sure sun shine helps it too, if you can get into the sun where you are.

6d63a1d0908ded6d7de14c344e68b25d

(45)

on June 20, 2013
at 08:02 PM

The food I put in my body affects my acne; it took me a long time to acknowledge this. I've tried to share this knowledge with friends, but it's hard for them to accept because diet changes aren't easy. I definitely try to get as much sunshine as I can.

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