Getting the right vitamins is essential for skin health and for healing acne. A deficiency may lead to acne prone skin and frequent breakouts. It is important to try to get your vitamins and minerals through your diet. But sometimes supplements may be necessary to fill in where there are deficiencies. If you do choose to take supplements of anything, be sure to consult with your doctor or nutritionist to get proper dosing and to avoid possible problems from drug interactions between multiple supplements or other medication you may be taking. Eating foods rich in the right vitamins and taking the right supplements for you may be the key to healing acne for you and it can make a big difference to your overall skin health.
Here are the top 7 minerals and vitamins for acne prevention.
Zinc is one of the most important and most commonly known vitamins for acne prevention. Zinc deficiency is associated with some cases of acne. Zinc is an important mineral for maintaining healthy skin because it supports cell growth and regeneration. For this reason it is used to treat skin conditions, including acne.
Increasing dietary intake of zinc may improve beneficial to your skin. Many foods contain zinc including oysters, lean red meat, lima beans, chickpeas, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and even chocolate. Don’t worry about the myth that chocolate causes acne; it doesn’t. But sugar and some fats can, so the darker the better. It is also possible to increase your zinc intake by using galvanized cookware.
Zinc supplements may be beneficial in healing acne. For acne treatment doses are usually between 45mg and 60mg daily or higher. Be careful of taking high doses of zinc long term because zinc toxicity is dangerous.
2. Vitamin A
Derivatives of vitamin A called retinoids are used to treat acne and other skin disorders. The retinoids tretinoin (Retin-A) and isotretinoin (accutane) are often prescribed to treat acne. These medications are powerful and have side effects so should be taken with caution and only under a doctor’s supervision. Isotretinoin should only be used for severe acne that is resistant to other treatments and should never be used by women who are pregnant or have a chance of becoming pregnant because of the risk of severe birth defects.
Increased vitamin A intake may also reduce acne in some people. Though a nutritionist may recommend supplements for some cases, it is best to get vitamin A through food sources including fish, dark colored fruits and vegetables, and dairy products (if tolerated by your skin).
3. Vitamin C
When taken internally, the antioxidant vitamin C (ascorbic acid) helps with wound healing and boosts immunity, both of which will help in preventing and healing acne. Most fruits and vegetables are sources of vitamin C; some of the richest are papaya, raw red bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, cantaloupe, lemon juice, kiwi, cauliflower, and kale.
When it is applied topically vitamin C serum facilitates collagen remodeling, so is excellent for preventing skin aging and healing acne scars. Vitamin C serum for facial application can be purchased or made at home with ascorbic acid. It has a short shelf life, so buy small quantities or if preparing at home, mix only what you need for a couple days at a time.
4. Vitamin E
Another antioxidant, vitamin E, is another one of the best vitamins for acne prevention. Vitamin E has been called the “beauty vitamin” because of its ability to regulate retinol levels for skin health as well as protect skin from aging caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is also one of the main underlying causes of acne. Vitamin E is an important vitamin for preventing and healing acne and used topically it is beneficial for healing acne scars.
Healthy food sources of vitamin E include mustard greens, chard, sunflower seeds, turnip greens, almonds, spinach, papaya, and blueberries. If taking vitamin E in supplement form be sure it is food-sourced, not petroleum based. Vitamin E gel caps are good because the oil inside can be used topically for healing acne scars. Just use a clean pin to puncture the gel cap and squeeze some of the oil out onto your clean finger and apply to spots before bed.
Selenium is an essential mineral that is present in the body in trace amounts. Selenium deficiency is believed to be a factor in some acne cases. It works in combination with vitamin E to reduce inflammation and boost the body’s immune system. It also is thought to support thyroid function which means it may be beneficial in clearing up hormone related acne.
Most people get enough selenium in their diet, but there are risk factors that may make you more likely to have a selenium deficiency including smoking and taking oral contraceptives, as well as certain diseases or conditions that cause poor mineral absorption, and some medications. Dietary sources of selenium include nuts, cereals, meat, mushrooms, fish, and eggs, tuna, crab, and lobster.
Omega-3 is technically not a vitamin or mineral but a fatty acid, but it made the list because of its great importance in healing acne. There is strong evidence that diets high in dietary omega-3 fatty acids can reduce or eliminate acne flare-ups. The reason for this has to do with the fact that omega-3 fatty acids produce anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body while omega-6 fatty acids produce inflammatory chemicals in the body. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is important. For optimal health, the ratio should be no greater than 4:1, and some nutritionists prefer 2:1. The standard American diet is closer to 10:1. So for preventing and healing acne (and heart health), eat more foods rich in omega-3s like flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, wild salmon, and sardines. And eat fewer foods rich in omega-6 fats like safflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil, butter, and meat.
Magnesium may help in preventing and healing acne in two ways. First, it is associated with reduced inflammation, one of the main causes of acne. It also plays a role in hormone balance, another cause of acne. Magnesium absorption may be reduced when taking zinc supplements, but it is absorbed better when taken with vitamin C. This is why magnesium citrate is a common magnesium supplement. Foods rich in magnesium are dark leafy greens, summer squash, broccoli, blackstrap molasses, halibut, pumpkin seeds and peppermint.
Vitamins and minerals play a fundamental role in controlling acne and understanding the minerals and vitamins for acne prevention is important for your skin care regimen. Getting enough – but not too much – is important for skin health and overall health. If you suspect that a vitamin or mineral deficiency is contributing to your acne, then start by adding more foods rich in that nutrient to your diet. Taking supplements under the guidance of your doctor or nutritionist can be an important next step for healing acne and preventing future breakouts.