If you suffer from acne you may feel reassured to know that you are not alone and that it is one of the most common skin conditions. Although it commonly affects teenagers, 51% of adults aged 20-29 report still having acne. The good news is that for most people acne can be straightforward to treat.
Along with diet and fitness, vitamins play a vital role in overall skin health. They are involved with reducing inflammation in the body, replenishing vitamin deficiencies, the maintenance of the protective barrier of our skin, and for the nourishment of our skin cells. In general, they are needed in the body for essential biochemical reactions and processes, but in relation to acne, vitamins are extremely important for maintaining a healthy complexion.
In the last few years, experts are recognizing vitamins as a relevant treatment for acne. As more and more studies come out showing that acne sufferers are deficient in various vitamins, the more clout that vitamins are given as a viable alternative in the treatment of acne. Combine that with all of the acne sufferers who have cleared up their skin using the right combination of vitamins, vitamins are something that must be looked at seriously in the treatment of your acne.
Here is a list of the most beneficial vitamins in the treatment of acne:
Vitamin A is responsible for growing new skin cells, strengthening your skin’s protective tissue, and reducing the amount of oil your skin produces. This means that when you don’t have enough Vitamin A in your diet, dead skin cells, bacteria and oil (from the sebaceous gland) can build up in your skin. According to studies, a large percentage of those who suffer from acne problems have vitamin A deficiencies.
An important antioxidant, vitamin A has been used to treat acne since the late 1800s, but as drugs have become the favorite of most doctors, vitamin A is used less and less.
The best type of vitamin A for treating acne comes from fish liver oil. This type is a retinoid and is biologically active in the body. The other kind of vitamin A available is beta-carotene, which is a much cheaper form. However, it is not true vitamin A, it is a precursor to vitamin A and needs to be converted into vitamin A by your body.
This study shows a relationship between acne and low levels of vitamin A:
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. It helps improve digestive health, plays an important part in growth and energy levels, and is a stress reducer. High stress levels can cause breakouts due to hormonal imbalances, and acne can be a symptom of B2 deficiency, so it’s important that you have enough vitamin B2 in your diet.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B5 is truly the juggernaut of acne vitamins! It helps metabolize skin oils, counteracts hormonal imbalances, increases your blood circulation and reduces your stress levels! All four of these things cause acne breakouts when they’re out of whack. Most acne supplements contain pantothenic acid, just watch out for the ones that are basically only pantothenic acid without much else.
Here are two studies relating pantothenic acid and acne:
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B12 boosts your metabolism as well as your red blood cells and nerve cell count. It also happens to improve your blood circulation, which helps regenerate your skin cells to give your skin that glowing, healthy look.
Biotin (Vitamin B7) – Not recommended
Biotin is a tough one. It is touted for it’s benefits to hair and nails, and often for the skin as well, but there is not any strong evidence that it helps with acne. Biotin is necessary for cell growth and the metabolism of fats and amino acids and it may help with maintaining a steady blood sugar level. It is very rare for someone to be deficient in biotin as it is produced in excess of our body’s daily requirements by our intestinal bacteria. Many cases have been reported of people’s acne getting worse when supplementing with biotin so we do not recommend it as an acne treatment, and it really should be avoided if you suffer from acne.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, which means it slows the rate of free radical damage to your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules and cause damage to collagen, which is an amino acid that keeps your skin smooth and supple. When too much free radical damage occurs, you get dry skin, fine wrinkles and lines.
Taking Vitamin C not only helps halt and reverse free radical damage, it also speeds up tissue growth and repair, and reduces your risk of developing skin cancer from long-term sun exposure.
Popularly referred to as “the sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D3 actually acts as a defense system for your skin by activating a special kind of white blood cell called macrophages. These macrophages directly attack acne-causing bacteria, making them a kind of ‘knight in shining armor’ for your skin.
Vitamin D3 helps with insulin response, reduces inflammation, helps to boost your immune system, and helps to improve your mood. Vitamin D3 also works cohesively with vitamin A, and taking vitamin D3 increases the amount of vitamin A your body can tolerate. Vitamin D3 deficiency is very common in North America, and if you have acne, you are probably deficient in vitamin D3 as well.
Vitamin E helps defend your skin from free radicals, helps prevent damage to cell membranes, and helps keep your skin soft and moisturized. Vitamin E also supports your immune system, and it helps fight against acne bacteria too.
Some studies have shown vitamin E helps the skin recover and reduce the appearance of acne scars. This study shows a relationship between a vitamin E deficiency and acne:
This once-obscure vitamin has been getting a lot of attention for all kinds of health benefits, including fighting cancer and heart disease. But one of the lesser-known facts about Vitamin K2 is that vitamin A doesn’t work properly without it. This means that even if your Vitamin A levels are normal, you could still have acne problems if you don’t have enough Vitamin K2. There are no studies showing a direct relationship between vitamin K2 and acne, however it is an extremely important vitamin to consider for overall health. In addition to its supportive relationship with Vitamin A, Vitamin K2 prevents our skin from calcifying (hardening) so it stays smooth and elastic, and is also potentially beneficial for smoothing out lines and wrinkles.
Several scientific studies show that acne sufferers are deficient in zinc. Zinc helps regulate the activity of your oil glands, so when you don’t have enough zinc, the oil glands can get out of control and produce too much sebum, which can lead to acne. Zinc also helps heal wounds and strengthens your skin tissue to prevent scarring.
This yellow-orange spice is most commonly known for its use in curries and other Southeastern Asian dishes, and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also contains curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory, so turmeric plays a role in reducing redness as well as killing off acne-causing bacteria for a clear, smooth complexion.
It’s been estimated that around half of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough magnesium in their diet. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to constipation, which causes acne breakouts because your digestive system isn’t ridding your body of toxins the way it’s supposed to. A lack of magnesium can also cause skin inflammation, which doesn’t do anything to help your complexion!
Getting enough magnesium into your diet will not only handle these things, but also lower your stress level, which also affects acne breakouts.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is rich in GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid that balances the hormones responsible for your acne breakouts and inflammation. It also helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and promotes skin elasticity. Translation: it’s anti- acne AND anti-aging!
Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)
Commonly used by herbalists to treat hormonal acne. Vitex contains no hormonal compounds but acts on the pituitary gland to help normalize and regulate hormones. Also widely used to treat PMS symptoms. Vitex has been used for centuries to treat acne and inflammation.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Lipoic Acid is one of the body’s crucial antioxidants and it is helpful with acne due to protection from free radical damage and inflammation. Two separate studies have shown lipoic acid to be twice as low in the blood of acne sufferers as those without acne. Alpha lipoic acid has also been shown to help the body control its levels of sugar and insulin as well.
In all cases, increasing the intake and absorption of certain vitamins through diet and/or supplements can eliminate the symptoms of a vitamin deficiency. Supplements can provide a more immediate reversal of symptoms because they deliver the needed vitamins in high doses. Vitamins are important to skin health, they are needed for the production of collagen, for the maintenance of the protective barrier, for the nourishing of the skin cells, and for reducing oxidative stress on the skin.
So if you’re wondering if you should look into vitamins for acne, then the answer is yes!