The reason for this is because the oyster has very high levels of key trace elements and bioactive enzymes, which can be very useful in the treatment of acne. One of these is zinc. Not just any zinc, like the synthetic zinc supplements one finds in the health food store or pharmacy, but natural, organic, bio available zinc. And not just zinc alone, but zinc with co-factors like copper, manganese and selenium. All bound in protein structures which make them highly bio available.
Do not underestimate the bio availability issue. Zinc uptake is greatest in the jejunum, which is the part of the intestine directly after the stomach. However for uptake to occur the zinc must first bind to active transport molecules. For synthetic zinc this is a problem, but for zinc from an oyster it is not, as that zinc is already bound to these transport molecules and ready for uptake. This raises certain issues about the efficacy of synthetic zinc supplements.
So why is this zinc so important I hear you say eagerly? Zinc plays a key role in almost 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Many of these happen in the skin. For example, zinc enzymes control the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, both of which keep it supple and young looking. For acne sufferers the major issues are the flare-ups and the scarring.
Acne is caused when pores get clogged and sebum production runs riot. The ensuing infection is what causes the redness and soreness. The scarring can be permanent in severe cases. Zinc helps in several ways.
1. Zinc controls the production of vitamin B6. This vitamin in turn helps regulate the production of sebum.
2. Zinc stimulates the immune system to produce thymulin with activates T-cells and T4 helper cells. These can help fight any infections, which might be threatening in an infected follicle.
3. If a flare up has occurred, zinc can reduce scarring as it is essential for new cell growth and it is involved in many enzymes, which regulate tissue repair and tissue regeneration.
So how do you know if you are zinc deficient? The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 80% of Western society may suffer from mild zinc deficiency. It is caused mainly by poor nutrition and certain groups can be more prone than others can. Athletes loose more zinc through sweat than normal people and should therefore be careful about zinc supplementation. Sexually active males, alcoholics and the elderly are also groups that have a higher incidence of zinc deficiency than normal. However poor nutrition and processed foods depleted of micronutrients are the biggest culprits. This is a big problem nowadays as corporate agriculture and corporate food processors are more concerned about profits and less concerned about nutrient availability in the products they create.
The solution is to seek out fresh ingredients and try to have a healthy diet. Think Slow Food not Fast Food. Taking a good zinc supplement is also wise if you suspect you are zinc deficient. Oyster extract is by far one of the best forms of zinc supplement available on the market today. However, beware of cheap products that come from countries with dubious records on environmental quality. Oysters must be grown in clean waters and the process must be conscious of preserving the key elements in high concentrations to be effective.
Some oyster extracts can have 20-30 times less zinc than others as they process the oysters not for nutrient concentrations but for bulk yields and profits. The bulkier extracts can be high in glycogen but low in the micronutrients that can aid acne treatment. Much research has been carried out on zinc and acne and the results are very encouraging. If you wish to try an oyster extract find one that is high in zinc and be prepared to pay that little extra for the extra benefits you'll receive. Lastly, try to remember that oyster extract is not just the best form zinc supplement you can take, it is a whole food supplement that contains 59 trace elements, vitamins, amino acids and omega 3 & 6 fish oils. Quite a big offering from the little oyster.
Stephen Kavanagh is a Marine Biologist and nutrition activist. His company, Gaia Biotechnology Ltd. is developing a range of bio active whole food supplements. To learn more about the most potent oyster extract powder available, zinc deficiency, zinc supplements, the benefits of zinc therapy or to try the product visit: http://www.oystermax.com