Why you need zinc with copper for healthy skin

Why you need zinc with copper for healthy skin

07 Sep 2021

There are various methods you can use to keep your skin healthy. Making sure your body receives sufficient nutrients like zinc with copper is one of those. The following are frequently asked questions about zinc and copper in supporting skin health.

What is zinc?

Zinc is a trace mineral that plays an important role in many bodily functions (1). It supports collagen production (3), with collagen being an essential component in the skin to help keep it elastic and firm.

Zinc also supports our skin’s ability to effectively heal. A deficiency in zinc can result in slower and poorer wound healing1.

What is copper used for?

Copper has played an important role in skin health throughout centuries and many ancient civilisations. The Romans used copper compounds to treat skin diseases and heal wounds (4). It is a practice that remains in use today as seen in wound dressings imbued with copper oxide (4).

Copper upregulates collagen and elastin components. It is also a cofactor in an antioxidant in the skin that protects it from free radicals (4). Copper is associated with the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines too (4).

Why do we need zinc with copper?

Zinc copper

Zinc reduces the amount of copper that your body absorbs by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of the latter (5). You risk a copper deficiency if your diet comprises zinc-rich foods without the element of copper (1). Extreme copper deficiency can lead to complications related to the blood, bone, and cardiovascular systems (6).

Complications may also arise if the body does not receive sufficient zinc. A zinc deficiency may result in loss of appetite and impaired immunity. It is also associated with complications related to hair, digestive system, skin and vision (6).

If these imbalances are severe, numerous bodily systems can be affected. This could lead to developmental disorders, neurological conditions, problems with the thyroid gland and cardiovascular system (7).

Ensuring that you receive both minerals adequately goes beyond increasing your intake of each of them. Studies show that the ratio of copper and zinc is clinically more important than just having a higher dose of each mineral individually (7). As a result, consuming zinc with copper can be a better alternative than taking them individually.

Where do I get zinc with copper?

20-40% of your body’s zinc absorption comes from food (6). Zinc from red meat, fish, and poultry is more readily absorbed by the body than zinc from plant foods. Zinc is best absorbed when taken with a meal that contains protein (6).

The best way to give our bodies essential nutrients like zinc and copper is to eat a balanced, wholefood diet. Zinc is found in a variety of meats like poultry and fish, cereals and dairy (8). Copper is found in shellfish, seeds, nuts, organ meats, wheat-bran cereals, whole-grain products and dark chocolate (6).

However, if you’re not getting the right amount of zinc or copper from your daily diet, opting for zinc with copper supplements can help. Having a measured dose in the form of these supplements can help ease your worries about having too much of either one mineral.

A properly portioned intake of zinc with copper does not only help improve our bodily processes. It is essential in ensuring that we have healthy skin with regards to wound healing, elasticity, and wrinkles too.

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Learn more about other areas that zinc can help you with, plus other supplements that can benefit in different ways:

Zinc | Iron | Astaxanthin | B complex | Vitamin C | Cranberry | Collagen | Biotin

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.


1. Mount Sinai. "Zinc". Mount Sinai. Published (n.d.) on https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/zinc.  Accessed August 16, 2021

2. MedlinePlus. Zinc in Diet. MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Published on https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002416.htm. Accessed August 16, 2021

3. Seo, H., Cho, Y., et. al. "Zinc may increase bone formation through stimulating cell proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity and collagen synthesis in osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells". National Institutes of Health: US National Library of Medicine. Published October 2010 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2981717/.  Accessed August 16, 2021

4. Borkow, G., "Using Copper to Improve the Well-Being of the Skin". National Institutes of Health: US National Library of Medicine. Published August 2014 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990/. Accessed August 16, 2021

5. Medsafe. "Interacting elements – zinc-induced copper deficiency". New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority: Medsafe. Published March 2020 on https://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/PUArticles/March2020/Interacting-elements-zinc-induced-copper-deficiency.html.  Accessed August 16, 2021

6. National Institutes of Health. "Zinc: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals". National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Published March 26, 2021 on https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.  Accessed August 16, 2021

7. Osredkar, J., Sustar, N., "Copper and Zinc, Biological Role and Significance of Copper/Zinc Imbalance". Journal of Clinical Toxicology. Published 2011 at https://www.longdom.org/open-access/copper-and-zinc-biological-role-and-significance-of-copper-zincimbalance-2161-0495.S3-001.pdf.  Accessed August 16, 2021

8. HealthDirect. "Zinc and your health." HealthDirect. Last reviewed March 2021 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/zinc. Accessed August 16, 2021