|Example of post-pregnancy stretch marks|
"I have 6 weeks left of my pregnancy and have found two tiny little pink stretch marks on my lower stomach. They are only like 1 cm long each but I don't want them to get any worse. I've been taking zinc for the last 6 months and that has helped heaps! I hadn't had any stretch marks (apart from the white ones I already had on my body before I was pregnant) up until now. What do the pink/purple stretch marks indicate I could be deficient in?"
Skin can be one of the first areas to show a zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency has been found in various diseases that involve the skin, such as lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, eczema and psoriasis.
Stretch marks are a good indicator of zinc deficiency. Since the skin depends upon zinc for its normal integrity, a deficiency allows the skin to tear just below the surface, producing scarring that appears as stretch marks. Unfortunately these are permanent, so prevention is critical.
This kind of damage is most common in women and happens during the hormone surge of puberty and during pregnancy, both also made more likely because of rapid growth. Stretch marks are common in bodybuilders who have high demands for zinc while often being on low zinc diets (chicken and rice). Zinc and most other minerals are low in the modern diet.
It is important, when trying to prevent stretch marks to realise that zinc and copper are the catalysts for the production of estrogen and progesterone respectively. If there is a surge of estrogen during puberty, or an excess due to a previous severe viral infection such as Glandular Fever, there will be a surge of copper in the body and this will create conditions of a relative zinc deficiency. An estrogen or copper IUD contraceptive will cause a zinc deficiency. We can pick this up with the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA).
The colour of stretch marks is a good indicator of whether there is an absolute imbalance or an imbalance relative to copper (zinc and copper must be in balance with each other for there to be healthy skin). If there is an excess of copper relative to zinc, the stretch marks will be silver. If there is an absolute zinc deficiency, the stretch marks will be purple. Fortunately, the less unsightly silver stretch marks are more common. However, all stretch marks are unsightly and best prevented in the first place. Nobody wants these.
Nails are a good indicator of zinc deficiency as well. Zinc is required for growth and healing. If there is insufficient zinc for growth of the nail there will be white deformities in the nail which often coincide with periods of physical stress, such as an infection, an injury, or excessive exercise causing muscle damage. White spots on nails are from zinc deficiency - not calcium.
In all cases, for prevention and for ensuring the problem does not get worse, I urge you to get a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis done. Here is the link for the HTMA test. And here is the link for the consultation to review the report and to work out what to do.
Silver stretch marks
This is due to an imbalance of zinc relative to copper. Depending on your health history, we may need to take measure to reduce copper in the body. If you have had a severe viral infection or on medication such as a contraceptive, or anti-depressant it is best you do the works - the HTMA test and consultation with me. If there are no complicating factors the best action is to increase your intake of zinc. It is important to take extra vitamin C and B vitamins with the zinc. Naturopaths Own Daily C is close to the perfect zinc and vitamin C concoction for stretch marks.
Purple stretch marks
Purple means very low levels zinc, usually associated with high levels of copper. The HTMA and consultation are also recommended. In the meantime, take a zinc supplement along with the B vitamins. Vitamin C may be needed but it is best to wait for the test results before taking large doses of vitamin C because vitamin C helps flush copper out of the body and we don't want to do that if copper levels are already low. However, one teaspoon a day of Naturopaths Own Daily C is a safe start and then modify things once the test results are in.
For preventing both silver and purple stretch marks
Silica is a proven skin beauty product that does not get much in the way of publicity. I think the only reason why is because the source is really cheap herbs that the mega beauty product corporations can't monopolise and sell at exorbitant prices. I have been using silica for skin conditions for years and have clients who swear by it and who refuse to stop taking it (its safe to take by the way). The best product I have containing silica is this one here: Silaplex. You'll note the attractive price!
Avoid getting overweight, especially with rapid gains because this stretches and stresses the skin.
If there is a zinc problem then bear in mind that skin loses its elasticity, so large weight losses may result in permanently loose, flabby skin.
The same process happens during pregnancy; but I am not advising avoiding pregnancy!
Sorry - this must be depressing to read!
Strong muscles that keep the belly and thighs trim and tight are one of the most important things you can do to prevent stretch marks, but bear in mind exercise alone is not the full solution.
Exercise during pregnancy is important and safe to do, so long as you follow some simple advice. My daughter, Mary-Ann, recently had a healthy baby and has absolutely no stretch marks. In fact you would never tell from her tummy that she was ever pregnant! Here is her blog with several articles about pregnancy exercises and diet: http://mazzamoller.blogspot.co.nz/
Take extra collagen
Forget about the over-priced pills that you really would need to take heaps of daily for any benefit: Make yourself chicken soup and have a cup or two each day. Go to your local butcher or supermarket and ask for a couple of chicken frames which you will get for a few dollars each. Boil these up in a big pot, following your favourite chicken soup recipe. This collagen - rich soup is just what the doctor ordered for your skin, hair and nail - and digestive tract.
Once you have stretch marksSadly, there is not much you can do other than to prevent further damage by following the advice earlier in this article about zinc, silica and chicken soup.
It makes good sense to look after your skin with moisturisers. You can't go wrong with using pure virgin coconut oil as your moisturiser. Apply it to the skin, let it soak in for a short while then gently dab the excess off.
If you are feeling a little depressed about stretch marks after reading this article, then there is one further piece of advice I can give you; whether you already have stretch marks or not and this is:
The best response is to act now before it happens, or before things get worse!