Over the past few months I’ve noticed that when I wash or brush my hair, I lose several more strands than usual. And that’s not all—at 34 years old, my face is suddenly breaking out, and I didn’t even have acne as a teenager! Needless to say, I’m panicking. One of my friends said it could be my diet. Is she right?

I suspect your friend is correct: The blemishes accompanying your recent hair loss indicate that a zinc deficiency may be to blame. Not only is zinc a vital component of skin and hair but it also plays a role in metabolizing testosterone, a hormone linked to hair loss and acne when in excess. My advice: Make sure your daily multivitamin contains at least 15 mg of zinc, the amount proven to help restore a clear complexion and promote healthy hair growth. Also, consider including flaxseed in your diet since it contains lignans, natural compounds that can reverse the effects of high testosterone levels. Simply sprinkle 2 Tbs. ground flaxseed (keep refrigerated once ground) on cereal, oatmeal and yogurt or blend into smoothies.

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