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Nutritional help for adolescent acne

Saturday, February 04, 2017
As an adolescent rite of passage, acne can make life hell for some teenagers. Some aren’t affected at all, for others the condition is bad enough to draw taunts of ‘pizza face’. It’s cruel: this is a time of life when teenagers become more conscious of their appearance as individuals, and discern their place in the world. If you experienced acne when younger you know first-hand how the embarrassment can really dent your confidence and self-esteem.

What’s behind that acne, though, can vary. So if your adolescent is experiencing acne despite a careful skin care regime, here’s some of the causes, and ways to help nutritionally.

In male adolescents, the growth surge of puberty can bring on shortages of nutrients like zinc and vitamin A. Zinc has a multitude of roles in body biochemical processes, and is needed to get vitamin A out of storage. A protein-rich diet actually enhances zinc absorption. 
Teenager image by Cheryl HoltAt the same time an adolescent’s body needs lots of extra zinc is the time of life your teenage child is becoming more independent in their food choices. What they choose to eat away from home is likely to be influenced by their peers’ food preferences. The teenage years can also be a time when different dietary regimes are explored; so many teenagers try out vegan or vegetarian diets that can be low in micronutrients like zinc and vitamin A.

A teenager’s circadian rhythms can also interfere with their nutrition: many teenagers don’t completely wake up until late morning; so they’re less unlikely to have the appetite for food before school. That can make encouraging them to eat a healthy breakfast challenging.

In young girls, acne can reflect an imbalance of hormones including excess oestrogen and insufficient progesterone promoting over-sensitivity to androgen hormones. Acne in young women can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, which could later interfere with their fertility.

You can help support adolescent nutrition so they’re less vulnerable to acne: Protein-rich foods like eggs, meat and fish are particularly high in zinc, so consider packing hard boiled eggs for their recess snack if they can’t face breakfast. Include high quality protein with their lunch. Nuts are also rich in zinc and other minerals, ideal as snacks. 

Although you can’t control all of what your adolescent eats, you can help support their nutrition with good quality meals when they’re at home. You know, the kind of home cooked meals created from fresh, unprocessed foods. 

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy 'Get More From Your Iron and Zinc Supplements' 

Image credit: Cheryl Holt via MorgueFile 

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