3 Minerals Your Skin is Craving

by Carla Hernandez Healthy Pregnancy, Baby & Child, Natural Remedies, Personal Care, Skin HealthComments: 27

sea minerals

By Carla Hernandez NTP of Wise Roots Nutrition

The importance of minerals in skincare has been severely overlooked, especially in comparison to the attention vitamins receive.  Minerals are essentially the “spark plugs” of the body, carrying out important bodily functions through enzyme reactions. They facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes with important assistance from vitamins.

In addition, they maintain PH balance and proper nerve conduction, contract and relax muscles, provide structural support, and regulate tissue growth. As you can see, minerals are a must to maintaining a healthy functioning body, but also to maintain healthy vibrant skin.

We need a variety of minerals, and the best place to get these is through consuming a clean whole foods diet with an array of high quality foods. Having a focus on skin in my practice, many of my clients who initially come to me are deficient in minerals in general, but in particular ones that can be extremely helpful in repair and maintenance of skin. If you’re struggling with a skin condition, such as acne, you may want to consider focusing on the minerals discussed below.


Zinc has a variety of important functions, and is also probably the most common deficiency I see in people. Zinc is needed for proper growth, supporting immunity, balancing proper blood sugar and metabolic rate, and plays a large role in promoting prostate health.

It also has incredible benefits in healing and repairing damaged skin, including wound healing, and because it is also an antioxidant, it protects against UV radiation. Just to be clear, I am an advocate of the sun and getting your vitamin D naturally, although there is a difference between sun exposure and abuse.

If you know you are going to be out for hours in the summer particularly, a zinc sunscreen like zinc oxide would not be a bad idea. It is available in it’s pure form, which you may recognize from the traditional white patches athletes like surfers use, although this is not the most attractive, nor discrete when out in public.

Zinc oxide is now available in a clear form that doesn’t have the chemicals and harmful ingredients that traditional sunscreens contain. It is also important to note that zinc regulates the release of vitamin A from the liver (another important skin nutrient). In regards to acne, zinc is especially helpful working as an anti-inflammatory agent, helping in prevention of breakouts but also decreasing scarring.

Because zinc can help reduce the amount of sebum (natural oil) your skin produces, some research has found that those with acne have a lower intake of zinc in their diet than those without acne.

Both past and recent research have shown that additional zinc intake is a great way to help control acne symptoms:

A 2000 study published in the European Journal of Dermatology found that taking zinc gluconate supplements helped to treat inflammatory acne, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  Another double-blind clinical trial published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 1977, discovered that zinc supplements were equally effective as oxytetracycline, an oral antibiotic sometimes prescribed for treating acne.

Food sources of zinc are best absorbed from animal sources if a deficiency is present, as animal foods are better absorbed without the phytates that zinc sources from plants have.

Simple Test for Zinc Deficiency

The current percent daily value for zinc is 15 mg, but therapeutic doses may be needed in higher amounts. A good way to test your zinc status is by doing a simple taste test at home.

Take a small amount of liquid zinc (about 1 tablespoon) in your mouth for up to 30 seconds. If you immediately taste something other than water, such as a metallic bitter taste, this can indicate good zinc status. The longer it takes within those 30 seconds to taste something other than water, the more deficient you may be.

Best food sources of Zinc

  • Oysters and other shellfish
  • Veal Liver
  • Roast Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pumpkin Seeds


Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the human body, present in every cell, with its greatest concentration in hair, skin and nails. Like zinc, many people are likely eating a diet deficient in sulfur.  That alone can cause initial skin symptoms.

Traditionally, dermatologists recommend topical sulfur ointments for treating acne, dermatitis, rosacea, eczema and even dandruff. Topical uses of sulfur date as far back as Hippocrates and even the Romans. Sulfur preparations and sulfur springs were used to treat skin problems, relieve pain and to prevent aging.

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, sulfur appears to assist in shedding excessive skin. Insufficient shedding can be responsible for blocking pores and creating the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.

Sulfur works great at fighting bacteria, clarifying the skin, minimizing pores, as well as preventing and healing damage caused by blemishes. Hence, it can be very helpful for those who have acne.

Dietary sulfur significantly affects the production of collagen in our skin, which supports its structure and strength, decreasing the onset of wrinkles. For an additional way to support collagen growth, gelatin from pasture raised animals is a great food source to include in any healthy skin diet.

Best food sources of Sulfur  

  • Grass fed pastured meats, like beef and chicken
  • Pastured eggs
  • Garlic
  • Onions- The more potent and stronger the smell and effect (think eyes watering), the more sulfur they contain!
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Fermented cruciferous vegetables, such as traditionally prepared sauerkraut


Selenium is a powerful antioxidant, paired with vitamin E (another antioxidant) helps to boost glutathione production in the body, which can potentially help to decrease and control acne.

Like Zinc, people who have acne typically have low levels of selenium as well. The combination of antioxidants can create a great anti-inflammatory effect and fight off free radicals.

It’s worth mentioning that copper also helps to enhance the function of antioxidants, protecting skin from overall oxidative damage which can lead to progressive aging, scarring and a dull complexion.

The mineral content in food is heavily dependent on the quality of the soil, another reason to shop organic and local.  Even then though, soils in some parts of the world naturally contain more selenium than others. In the United States, Nebraska and North and South Dakota have high levels of selenium in the soil. Russia and China have low selenium levels.

If you eat a whole foods diet you should get enough selenium, however, if you do or have any of the following, this can also lead to selenium deficiencies.

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Drink alcohol
  • Take birth control pills
  • Have a condition that prevents your body from absorbing enough selenium such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or any chronic digestive issue

Best Food Sources of Selenium

  • Organ Meats
  • Fish, such as sardines and salmon are particularly high
  • Pastured Meats- beef, turkey, lamb
  • Liver
  • Brazil nuts– Just 2-3 nuts will get you to your daily intake value. Make sure you soak and sprout to reduce the phytate content and make the selenium more available.

So now we have covered vitamins, minerals and antioxidants within these that are especially helpful to manage skin problems and maintain healthy skin.

Focus on these food sources for a good month or two and see the improvement!

If you are worried about the quantity of overall minerals in your food or diet (or suspect malabsorption), a great insurance policy I recommend is a liquid mineral supplement. In addition to providing trace minerals in balance with each other, it also helps keep you hydrated and maintain energy.

If this is still not enough, I will soon be covering what other areas you may need to take a deeper look at, beyond just nutrients, that can help in achieving your healthy skin goals!





About The Author

Carla is a  Board Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) who uses nutrition, diet and lifestyle interventions to support physiological mechanisms within the body. She is the founder of Wise Roots Nutrition, which is an integrative approach that focuses on customized plans to support the root cause of a person’s health challenge.

Carla educates and empowers you to make responsible and healthful food choices that restore balance and proper function to your body, as well as offers lab testing to provide accurate recommendations and effective solutions.

She believes in finding the root cause of a condition, rather than just treating the symptoms. Carla works with people locally in San Francisco, as well as long distance via phone and Skype. She specializes in Digestive Issues, Weight Loss and Skin Conditions.

Sign up to get Carla’s weekly nutrition tips, ideas, and the latest health information on her site, wiserootsnutrition.com or connect with her on Facebook.

Photo Credit

Comments (27)

  • Brittany

    Just wanted to add my two scents as a natural soapmaker. French green clay is another way to treat your skin to some much needed trace minerals. It has been found that this clay knows what to replace in your system intuitively and what impurities to remove. With your skin absorbing so much, a person could use a bar soap that contains this clay (shameless plug… like my “Body Facial Bar soap”) and get similar benefits without having to drink it.

    October 28th, 2014 1:05 pm Reply
  • suzan

    Hi every body,
    I used to have big problems with mineral makeup products, but am getting in better shape now. Here’s a good site I found that really helped. It gave me great methods and skin care and showed me what I was doing wrong before…there’s even lots of free articles on the site…http://deadseaproductstore.com

    June 22nd, 2014 10:14 pm Reply
  • Pingback: 3 Minerals Your Skin is Craving

  • Serita

    Might one obtain sufficient trace minerals from cooking exclusively with Himalayan salt (or even the Utah salt from which region it appears the above product is also sourced)? Seems easier to eat it than add it to a supplement regimen… :)

    October 20th, 2013 3:08 am Reply
    • Carla

      For some it may be enough, but for other who really need support and are depleted, a liquid version can be very helpful!

      October 20th, 2013 5:36 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Real Skin Soultion from Within! | Wise Roots Nutrition

  • Jen

    I bought the mineral supplement you suggested to add to the RO water I drink.I was concerned about the lack of minerals in my RO water.What really concerned me about the product, when I went through the website I was not able to find any information about whether the product contains fluoride or not.In fact, all of the information from labs etc….fluoride was not mentioned at all.It seems like the company is avoiding the issue.I do believe it is very likely that the product contains Fluoride.I won’t use it.

    October 12th, 2013 10:29 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I will make a nut butter out of pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts and knock out 2 outta 3. It only takes 20 seconds in my Vitamix to make smooth nut butter. I like the soaked, sprouted and dehydrated pumpkin seeds by GoRaw in the one pound bags. Good quality.

    September 21st, 2013 12:41 pm Reply
  • Carla

    Thanks for the feedback Chloe!

    June 30th, 2013 1:31 pm Reply
  • Austin

    Does anyone know any natural cure for folliculitis?

    June 27th, 2013 9:54 pm Reply
  • Austin

    Does anyone know any natural cures for folliculitis on the scalp?

    June 27th, 2013 9:14 pm Reply
  • Gemma

    Is it ok to take these minerals as supplements? I am a vegetarian and so can’t eat a lot of the foods that supply these nutrients. I have had trouble with my skin since going vegetarian and now I am beginning to wonder why. I started to occasionally eat fish again recently but have not seen any change yet. Thanks for your time.

    June 26th, 2013 5:34 pm Reply
    • Carla

      Yes, the liquid mineral supplement is what I recommend to cover all trace minerals in balance: http://amzn.to/16AMipt

      You may also need higher amounts of certain minerals, like the ones in the article to see a therapeutic difference.

      June 26th, 2013 11:35 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    I’ve had issues with acne and breakouts lately and thought it mostly stress-related. But perhaps I should try increased mineral use.

    June 26th, 2013 3:51 pm Reply
  • Addie

    I just wanted let everyone know that the zinc oxide works! I’ve been eating a WAPF nourishing diet for almost 2 years now, but still seem to get waves of detox symptoms every few months, including really bad acne outbreaks. I never wanted to put anything on in (benzoyl peroxide, etc) because I wanted to attack the underlying issue and know when I was symptomatic, but I’m 27 years old so it was pretty awful. But just last week I read an article linking zinc to acne which mentioned zinc oxide sunscreen as a “cure”, so I went for it. I started taking a liquid zinc supplement and applied my son’s Badger Balm SPF 30 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (no nano-particles, no weird ingredients) at night. By the way, the tube was over a year old because I rarely put sunscreen on him! It’s been 5 days now and my skin is about 80% healed. Incredible. The blackheads on my nose are gone and my skin is not oily/shiny or dried out. It really feels great. I hope this will help someone else too who is as desperate as I was!!

    June 26th, 2013 12:23 pm Reply
    • Carla

      Thank you for the feedback Addie! So great to hear this worked for you!

      June 26th, 2013 11:39 pm Reply
  • Laura

    Trader Joes, has a Zinc Oxide sunscreen for like $5. Not too sure about the quality, but for our large family that lives a mile from the beach it’s much more economical.

    June 26th, 2013 11:55 am Reply
    • Carla

      Great, just check and make sure there is nothing else in it. Many “Zinc” sunscreens will contain harmful chemicals mixed in which can in turn be dangerous for your skin and health.

      June 26th, 2013 4:41 pm Reply
  • Maggie

    I would also consider magnesium an important mineral that is typically deficient in the SAD diet. That said, an excellent non-food source of both magnesium and sulfur (sulfate actually) is a good epsom salt bath. :)

    Any comments on the copper/zinc ratio? I eat liver and kidney a few times a week, in addition to mussels. Is there any worry of getting too much copper or would liver and kidney be considered “balanced” foods in terms of their copper/zinc content?

    June 26th, 2013 10:39 am Reply
    • Carla

      If you are getting zinc and copper through foods, I wouldn’t worry about the ratio as food has a natural correct balance, if supplementing levels may need to be monitored, or at the very least supplement for a short period of time.

      June 26th, 2013 4:39 pm Reply
  • Jodi S

    My son is highly food-sensitive to garlic. :( We never cook with it anymore and it’s the only allergen for him, out of all his other food sensitivities, that does not reduce with dietary changes. Something about the way the body digests/processes/metabolizes sulfur????

    June 26th, 2013 10:27 am Reply
    • Carla

      Yes, garlic and onions are common foods that people react to, may or may not be because the sulfur. Food sensitivities can occur because of over consumption/ exposure or typically digestive distress.

      June 26th, 2013 4:37 pm Reply
  • Amanda

    Soak and sprout brazil nuts? They get slimy and taste like mold. I have read not to do this. Should we soak/sprout them? Thanks!

    June 26th, 2013 9:18 am Reply
    • Kristi

      I also read not to soak/sprout brazil nuts because of the mold factor and was wondering about this as well. Thank you!

      June 26th, 2013 12:35 pm Reply
    • Carla

      Yes soak them, they do not sprout though. After soaking, place in the oven or dehydrator immediately to “crispy” them back up.

      June 26th, 2013 4:34 pm Reply
  • Josh Brancek

    My skin is always craving Zinc, my GP told me that Zinc is also great for overall immunity!!!

    June 26th, 2013 7:18 am Reply

Leave a Comment