Don't Miss Out on These Minerals for Your Skin

​The minerals we eat may help our skin

Just like the skin requires vitamins in our diets to perform its many functions, it also needs adequate minerals. In order for the skin to maintain strength and integrity, protect us from the external world, and maintain homeostasis, we need a lush supply of minerals.  This article will summarize how a few different minerals benefit our skin.

Zinc has a well-documented role in promoting healthy skin.  Many enzymes in our body require zinc in order to carry out their role in assisting with the skin’s continual renewal.  Zinc has also been implicated in wound healing and in decreasing inflammation in the skin.[1] One study demonstrated that 200 mg/day of zinc gluconate resulted in statistically significant improvement in inflammatory acne compared to placebo.[2] 

Copper has demonstrated the ability to quench damaging free radicals that result from ultraviolet light exposure and to decrease inflammation.[3] When collagen (an important structural component of our skin) is made, copper is required for the proper functioning of an enzyme called lysyl oxidase. This enzyme is essential for cross-linking of collagen and elastin.[4]  Adequate copper in our diets may be important to help keep skin firm and supple.[5]

Selenium acts as an antioxidant that helps protect our skin from damaging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays.  In order to neutralize oxidative damage, two important enzymes called glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase require selenium to function.[6]  Selenium may also reduce levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which researchers believe may be why it relieves inflammation in people with psoriasis.[8] People who suffer from psoriasis have had an improvement in their symptoms after receiving selenium supplementation.[7] 

Silicon has been researched in a dermatologic clinical study as a potential supplement to alleviate signs of photo aging, such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.[9]  It is often formulated into a more bioavailable form called choline-stabilized orthosilic acid (ch-OSA) in dietary supplements.  In another study, ch-OSA taken for 9 months improved hair thickness and strength.[10] 

Iron is essential throughout the human body for cellular replication, energy production, and many other important cellular reactions.[11] Iron is an important mineral for hair health, exemplified by scientific evidence that iron deficiency may be associated with diffuse hair loss in women.[12] One study showed that 22 women who took a daily iron supplement for 6 months had a 39% decrease in hair shedding.[13] Additionally, low iron can lead to anemia, which can manifest in some people with pale skin and dark under-eye circles.[14] On the other hand, iron can also be toxic if it reaches too high of a level in our blood.[15] In a genetic disease called hemochromatosis, iron builds up and deposits in many organs, including the skin, resulting in metallic skin darkening.[15] 

Table 1: Dietary Sources of Select Minerals

Mineral   Dietary Sources

Seafood, red meat, fortified cereals[16]


Whole grains, seafood, nuts, seeds[16]


Whole grains, fish, brazil nuts, wheat germ[17]


Grains, vegetables, fruits[18] 


Fortified breakfast cereals, oysters, white beans, Beef liver, lentils, spinach[19]

* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.


1.    Schwartz JR, Marsh RG, Draelos ZD. Zinc and skin health: overview of physiology and pharmacology. Dermatol Surg.2005;31(7 Pt 2):837-847; discussion 847; PMID: 16029676.

2.    Dreno B, Amblard P, Agache P, et al. Low doses of zinc gluconate for inflammatory acne. Acta Derm Venereol.1989;69(6):541-543; PMID: 2575335.

3.    Pickart L, Vasquez-Soltero JM, Margolina A. The human tripeptide GHK-Cu in prevention of oxidative stress and degenerative conditions of aging: implications for cognitive health. Oxid Med Cell Longev.2012;2012:324832; PMID: 22666519.

4.    Harris ED, Rayton JK, Balthrop JE, et al. Copper and the synthesis of elastin and collagen. Ciba Found Symp.1980;79:163-182; PMID: 6110524.

5.    Pickart L. The human tri-peptide GHK and tissue remodeling. J Biomater Sci Polym Ed.2008;19(8):969-988; PMID: 18644225.

6.    Baliga MS, Wang H, Zhuo P, et al. Selenium and GPx-1 overexpression protect mammalian cells against UV-induced DNA damage. Biol Trace Elem Res.2007;115(3):227-242; PMID: 17625244.

7.    Juhlin L, Edqvist LE, Ekman LG, et al. Blood glutathione-peroxidase levels in skin diseases: effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Acta Derm Venereol.1982;62(3):211-214; PMID: 6179360.

8.    Naziroglu M, Yildiz K, Tamturk B, et al. Selenium and psoriasis. Biol Trace Elem Res.2012;150(1-3):3-9; PMID: 22821504.

9.    Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, et al. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res.2005;297(4):147-153; PMID: 16205932.

10.    Wickett RR, Kossmann E, Barel A, et al. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Arch Dermatol Res.2007;299(10):499-505; PMID: 17960402.

11.    Cazzola M, Bergamaschi G, Dezza L, et al. Manipulations of cellular iron metabolism for modulating normal and malignant cell proliferation: achievements and prospects. Blood.1990;75(10):1903-1919; PMID: 2186818.

12.    Rushton DH. Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clin Exp Dermatol.2002;27(5):396-404; PMID: 12190640.

13.    Rushton DH, Norris MJ, Dover R, et al. Causes of hair loss and the developments in hair rejuvenation. Int J Cosmet Sci.2002;24(1):17-23; PMID: 18498491.

14.    Sato S. Iron deficiency: structural and microchemical changes in hair, nails, and skin. Semin Dermatol.1991;10(4):313-319; PMID: 1764360.

15.    Simonart T, Van Vooren JP, Parent D, et al. Role of iron in dermatology. Dermatology.2000;200(2):156-159; PMID: 10773710.

16.    Functions and Food Sources of Some Common Vitamins. Dietitians of Canada 2013; http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vitamins/Functions-and-Food-Sources-of-Common-Vitamins.aspx. Accessed October 8, 2016.

17.    Basavaraj KH, Seemanthini C, Rashmi R. Diet in dermatology: present perspectives. Indian J Dermatol.2010;55(3):205-210; PMID: 21063507.

18.    Jugdaohsingh R. Silcon AND Bone Health. J Nutr Health Aging.2007;11(2):99-110; PMID: 17435952.

19.    NIH. Iron Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/. Accessed October 8, 2016.