Zinc is a workhorse nutrient. Not only is it one of the most versatile and powerful minerals when it comes to its healing properties, it’s also found in every cell of your body. It’s crucial for your body’s functionality, growth and development, and helps to fight pesky viruses and bacteria. It’s even been proven to fight the common cold!

Luckily, summer is a great time to start incorporating zinc into your life both internally and topically. Summer foods like seafood, eggs, legumes and nuts are chock full of the mineral, so eat up! It also has myriad external benefits when it comes to skin problems, especially those that occur during the hot, humid summer months.

Here are five reasons you should add zinc to your life ASAP:

1. It’s a safe and effective sunscreen.

Zinc oxide is the leading filter for UVA and UVB rays (and even UVC rays). As a single ingredient, it protects against all rays and sits on top of the skin to form a formidable barrier. It doesn’t penetrate the skin and has been deemed a safe ingredient choice of sunscreen by the Environmental Working Group.

2. It helps relieve eczema and dry skin.

Zinc has fungistatic — meaning it inhibits the division of fungal cells — and antibacterial properties, so it’s effective against many viruses, bacteria and fungi that can present as skin ailments. Topical zinc oxide has strong antioxidant and antibacterial actions that can treat eczema, a chronic inflammatory condition that can rear up in hot weather.

3. It helps reduce acne.

Zinc helps fight the inflammation and bacteria that can cause acne. Topical zinc alone is effective perhaps because of its anti-inflammatory activity and ability to inhibit acnes lipases and free fatty acid levels. It can also help suppress sebum production.

4. It prevents diaper rash and athlete’s foot.

With summer weather comes warm, wet feet and diapers. Since sweat can exacerbate rashes (and sweat is an abundant resource in the summer!), it’s best to protect and relieve the situation with zinc oxide lotion. It can help create an optimal moisture barrier packed with inflammatory and antifungal fighting properties.

Most diaper creams contain zinc, which absorbs moisture and is packed with anti-inflammatory properties to help relieve rashes. For athlete’s foot, simply apply zinc oxide-based diaper rash ointment to prevent sweaty or wet feet — breeding grounds for athlete′s foot.

5. It treats minor rashes, cuts and scraped knees.

You’re bound to be spending a lot of time outside during the season, and so will undoubtedly experience a few bumps and bruises along the way. Whether it’s a scraped knee from the pool deck or a scratched arm from a day among the trees, zinc can help soothe the skin from any burning, as well as ease irritation and infection that may erupt.

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