People go to great lengths to achieve beautiful, acne-free skin. While purchasing the best topical skincare products can certainly help, vitamins, minerals, and supplements also play an essential role in a well-rounded skincare regimen. When taken correctly, daily supplements can support your topical acne treatment, help heal your skin blemishes, and prevent future breakouts.
What causes acne?
The severity and type of acne are related to a variety of reasons. Your genetics (familial tendency), eating the wrong foods, using improper skincare, too much stress, and even lack of sleep can contribute to acne. Hormonal changes and fluctuations can also play a significant role in acne flare-ups.
The best way for most people to treat acne would be with topical products that contain salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. When using the correct, customized products, you should see results in 3-4 months.
While these topical treatments are effective, it's important to remember that great skin starts from within! When paired with your personalized topical treatment regime, a combination of the right diet and the right supplements can help you attain the clear skin of your dreams.
How can vitamins and supplements help with acne?
1. Provide an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing skin redness.
2. Work as antioxidants, counteracting the skin damage caused by environmental toxins.
3. Contain stress-relieving ingredients. Less stress can lead to less acne.
4. Help reduce hormonal acne by improving hormonal imbalances.
5. Help improve the skin's immune system by fighting acne-causing bacteria.
6. Enhance the skin's healing process, resulting in less acne scarring.
7. Help with glucose metabolism, reducing glucose spikes leading to fewer acne breakouts.
8. They work just as effectively for areas that are hard to reach with topical treatments (such as the back).
Couldn't a healthy diet alone achieve these results?
Your body needs a balance of nutrients to keep it functioning correctly, and your skin, the largest organ in your body, is no different. A healthy diet full of high-quality fish and a wide variety of veggies can help improve skin health. It does this by reducing the inflammation associated with acne and providing hormonal support that helps with the skin repair processes.
Having said that, one study has found that the level of vitamin E, vitamin A and zinc were significantly lower in people with acne compared to the control group.
Unfortunately, it's not always possible to eat the perfect diet. The right vitamins and supplements can help bridge this gap and ensure you're getting the ideal amount of the nutrients you need to support healthy skin.
What ingredients should I look for in an acne supplement?
When it comes to acne supplements, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. If you take the wrong supplement for your particular skin or your specific acne type, the supplement can be ineffective at best and make your acne worse at worst.
When it comes to acne supplementation, regular one size skin, hair, and nails will not do the job. Some of these skin, hair, and nails multivitamins that contain very high amounts of biotin can cause more acne breakouts.
Most dermatologists would advise focusing on the following active vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin A for Acne
Vitamin A has antioxidant properties. It eliminates free radicals, promotes a healthy immune system, and contributes to eye health by playing an essential role in cell growth and development. As for skin benefits, Vitamin A is the source of retinol. It's used in the topical treatment of mild acne and orally (isotretinoin, Accutane) to treat more severe and cystic acne. Vitamin A helps produce new skin cells and collagen formation and can reduce sebum production, supporting your topical anti-acne treatment from within.
Vitamin A helps with the normal shedding of dead skin cells that build up inside the pore and ultimately cause blackheads and whiteheads that are the first acne stage. It also helps the formation of new collagen, has antioxidant properties, and balances sebum production. Clinical research has shown a negative correlation between acne severity and vitamin A, E, and Zinc levels. One of these studies looked at 94 acne patients and a control group and found that the level of vitamin E, vitamin A, and Zinc was significantly lower than the control group.
Another study found that vitamin A supplements appear to disrupt P. acnes bacteria's effects on skin cells. The authors conclude that our data demonstrate that IL-17 is induced by P. acnes and expressed in acne lesions and that both vitamin A and D could be effective tools to modulate IL-17-mediated diseases such as acne.
Vitamin B5 for Acne
Vitamin B5 (aka pantothenic acid) is one vitamin that you do not want to be deficient in! If you are, it can cause overactive sebaceous glands, which leads to increased sebum production. The result of this is an increased likelihood of hormonal acne breakouts. One study found that volunteers with severe acne who took a daily oral dose of a pantothenic acid-based dietary supplement demonstrated improved skin health versus those who took a placebo tablet. This study showed a greater than 67% reduction in total facial lesions after 12 weeks of supplementation—more info on pantothenic acid for acne people.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) for acne
Just like its counterpart, vitamin B5, B1 helps us deal with stress. It does this by boosting the immune system and soothing the nervous system, thereby preventing stress-related acne. Vitamin B1 aids in producing cells, which ensures you have clear and healthy skin that heals quickly. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin B1 helps defend the skin against damages from the sun, stress, premature aging, etc. Skincare products use thiamine in their production because of its ability to clear away old, damaged skin and let soft and smooth skin grow.
Vitamin B2 for Acne
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) assists in maintaining collagen and aids cell turnover. This protects the skin’s structural integrity, reduces inflammation, and speeds up wounds' healing process. Vitamin B2 also ensures that your skin secretes enough mucus to keep it moisturized. A well-moisturized skin protects you from the dryness that leads to excessive oil production and, inevitably, acne.
Vitamin B12 for Acne
Vitamin B12 helps reduce acne blemishes and inflammation. An analysis of 14 different papers has shown that some vitamin B complex members can help skin health and reduce stress and anxiety – common triggers for skin blemishes.
Vitamin B3 for Acne
Vitamin B3 (known as niacinamide) improves skin elasticity, evens skin tone, and fights inflammation. Because of this, B3 is ideally suited to treat the inflammation in pimples and clear up your acne. In a recent study from 2017, an oral supplement containing nicotinamide resulted in a significant acne reduction compared with baseline. No major adverse side effects were noted. In another study, a product containing nicotinamide, Zinc, copper, and folic acid and demonstrated a significant improvement in acne vulgaris compared with acne before treatment.
Vitamin B6 for Acne
Vitamin B6 helps the body produce the happy hormone (serotonin) and the sleep hormone (melatonin). Reducing stress can decrease inflammation and improve cell regeneration and skin hydration. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) plays a role in metabolizing proteins, sugars, and fatty acids. Vitamin B6 is also important to maintaining a healthy immune system and producing antibodies. In one study, it was found that 72% of 106 teens with acne who had usually experienced and premenstrual flare of acne were helped by taking 50 mg of pyridoxine daily one week before and during their period.
Vitamin D in people with acne
A few recent studies have found that people with acne are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. in one study, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was significantly higher in the acne group than in the control group (77.6% vs. 63.9%). That said, another study did not find a significant association between the serum level of vitamin D and the severity of acne, and it is not clear if adding vitamin D to the diet can have a significant effect on acne.
Milk Thistle for Acne
Milk thistle is an herb derived from the plant named milk thistle plant or Silybum marianum. Milk thistle herb or supplement is known to have excellent skin-renewing properties. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Milk thistle works hand-in-hand with the liver to break down excess hormones, such as estrogen, helping with hormonal balance. One study has shown that people who took milk thistle supplements experienced a significant decrease in acne breakouts.
Chromium for Acne
Chromium is believed to help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce skin infections, thus lessening the chances of an acne breakout. It has been shown through people who eat a high-glycemic diet as this type of diet causes insulin resistance, which increases inflammation and oil production in the skin. By lowering blood sugar and keeping it at a balanced level, sebum production will be regulated, and the body will have less inflammation and acne. A few studies suggest that traditional diets with a low glycemic load are protective against acne, and one trial on ten patients showed that 400 mcg of chromium improves acne.
Zinc for Acne
Zinc is critical to skin, hair, and nail health, but the human body does not make Zinc, so it's essential to get it through your diet. Supplementing with Zinc is believed to benefit people with acne by reducing the inflammatory response to bacteria, which may decrease the redness and swelling related to acne. It can also help keep pores and oil glands from clogging.
Zinc is a mineral that has two essential functions for acne clearing. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well as inhibitory effects on P. acnes. In one study, 66 subjects with acne were given oral zinc gluconate or placebo. Inflammatory acne scores were found to be significantly better in the zinc group compared to the placebo group. In another study on 318 subjects with acne, the effects of zinc supplements were compared to oral minocycline. It was found that oral Zinc decreased the number of acne lesions nearly and minocycline (50% and 66%, respectively). The authors concluded that Zinc has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects and that it may decrease sebum production. A review of 14 different papers has shown that zinc supplementation can help with stress and anxiety – common triggers for skin blemishes.
Magnesium for Acne
Magnesium is essential for hundreds of biochemical functions. The problem is, studies now show that more than 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. So, getting this mineral via a supplement is critical. Selenium is a mineral that helps to prevent inflammation related to acne. It also works as an antioxidant and protects other antioxidants such as Vitamin E.
Selenium for Acne
Selenium is a mineral that has anti-inflammatory properties. Selenium aids skin elasticity and can also help acne relief through diminishing inflammation of the skin. Vegans and vegetarians can be deficient in these minerals involved in fighting infection and hormone balance. One study found that among people suffering from acne, those with the most severe cases also showed significantly lower levels of Selenium. It works best in conjunction with Zinc. When treating acne, its primary role is as an anti-inflammatory.
Furthermore, since the selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase enzyme activity is low in acne patients, it has been theorized that Selenium would be of value. Indeed, low levels of blood selenium have been documented in acne patients. One study examined Selenium's effect (400 mcg) and vitamin E (20 mg) daily for 12 weeks in acne. The combination led to improvements, especially in those with low baseline glutathione peroxidase activity.
Coenzyme Q10 for people with acne
Coenzyme Q10 is an enzyme that exists in every cell of our body; that is, our body naturally produces it. CoQ10 helps in cell growth and cell maintenance. This enzyme also functions as an antioxidant, neutralizes toxins like free radicals, energizes cell activity, and keeps cells healthy. Adding CoQ10 to your skincare routine allows your cells to utilize other nutrients even better. In addition to these, Coenzyme Q10 stimulates collagen and elastin production. Collagen provides your skin with structure, while elastin helps the skin return to its original state after an alteration.
What are the best supplements for teenagers with acne?
Many teenagers would not eat enough vegetables leading to poor skin health and more acne breakouts.
Having enough B vitamins is essential for the healthy development of our body and is vital to teens. This family of vitamins is responsible for energy production in our cells and the proper function of many body organs, including the skin. Vitamin B5, specifically, was found to help with acne. Vitamin B12 improves red blood cells' production, strengthens the nerve cell function, and Vitamin B6 helps break down liver hormones, mood swings, and sweets cravings.
Vitamin A is another vitamin that is crucial for skin build-up and renewal. It especially important for skin health and is used in oral and topical anti-acne medications. In the right amounts, the minerals zinc and selenium can help prevent acne inflammation in adolescents and adults.
What are the best supplements for adult men with acne?
Over 10% of men over the age of 25 still suffer from acne. The causes of acne in adult men are similar to the causes of adolescent acne. It all starts with a genetic predisposition to excess secretion of sebum in the skin oil glands. When these oils gland increase in size, they are clogged by dead skin cells leading to the overgrowth of acne bacteria in the clogged skin oil glands. The skin's immune system produces skin inflammation and redness resulting in the typical acne pimples.
Improper skin cleansing, poor shaving technique, and other elements like stress and poor diet make adult men's acne worse. Overexposure to air pollution, humidity, heat, and other toxins can cause acne breakouts worse and more difficult to control.
The first step in the treatment of acne in adult men should be using the right topical products. These products should include a medicated acne treatment, usually with salicylic acid to clearance dirt and oil from the skin and unclog skin pores, and a medicated night cream that can kill the acne bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Same as with adolescents – the diet of many men lacks vegetables. Acne supplements are an excellent addition to the topical skincare routine of adult men with acne. Also, to boost skin healing and reduce skin inflammation, the right acne supplement can reduce skin redness and inflammation and fight and help unclog skin pores.
What helps to heal skin with acne scars?
It is believed that taking the right vitamins and minerals can help with skin healing and reduce acne scarring. The most important vitamins for reducing teh risk for acne scarring are vitamins A, Vitamins from the B family, vitamin C, Vitamin D, and vitamin E. Coenzyme Q10 has skin-healing effects, such as lightening spots, preventing skin cell damage, regenerating skin cells, and decreasing blemishes and redness.
What are the best ingredients or supplements for hormonal acne?
We already know that hormones play a significant role in forming acne. It turns out that testosterone and estrogen are particularly at fault. When testosterone levels are increased (or if there's a heightened sensitivity to this hormone), the sebaceous gland can produce oilier sebum, making the skin more prone to acne. Changes or imbalances in estrogen levels can also be a contributing factor in acne.
A nutrient known as DIM can help to balance these hormones.
What is DIM?
DIM (or diindolylmethane, but who can say that) is also called the "Hormone Balancer." It's a potent compound found naturally in cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, kale, and cabbages. Acting as an aromatase inhibitor, DIM can help restore estrogen balance and reduce acne breakouts in both men and women. Thanks to its hormone-balancing effects, DIM can be taken by people with adult acne, hormonal acne, and cystic acne. It can also be beneficial to those with acne scars. This stuff is so powerful; users have reported effects within the third week of use. The skin benefits alone are reason enough to take DIM acne-prone skin supplements. But in addition to helping with skin issues, DIM is also believed to help with irregular menstrual cycles, heavy periods, and PMS.
What are the best vitamins or minerals for people with stress acne?
Emotional and psychological stress themselves do not necessarily cause acne outbreaks. The sebaceous glands contain receptors for stress hormones, so increased stress does result in increased sebum production. BUT, there's another way stress affects the skin: it increases the urge to touch and pick the skin, causing more acne breakouts and slower healing of the lesions.
It is believed that Vitamin B5 supports the adrenal glands, which helps reduces stress and anxiety levels. Vitamins B9 (also known as folate or folic acid) and B12 are important in balancing out depressive moods. Vitamin B6, together with magnesium, can balance out the anxiety that occurs in conjunction with PMS.
Having enough magnesium is essential for proper nerve and muscle function. We already know that a majority of Americans consume less magnesium than they should. This deficiency is particularly problematic when dealing with stress because magnesium plays a significant role in regulating the stress response.
Zinc is another mineral required for overall health and mental well-being. It's found in the brain's highest concentrations, especially in the hippocampus, and plays a vital role in modulating your stress response. Zinc is required to synthesize GABA and balance the activity of this calming neurotransmitter. Along with Vitamin B6, zinc is also a cofactor in the production of serotonin.
Can I take acne supplements when I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
You should not use acne supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You must consult your healthcare provider and pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter supplements. If you have any preexisting medical conditions or are taking any other medications, you would need first to consult your primary physician.
I've heard that biotin can cause more acne breakouts. Is that true?
Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7, is essential to maintain the skin barrier function of the skin, and thus in a small amount, is beneficial to people with acne.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is the most important vitamin for people with acne. As biotin in large amounts reduces the absorption of vitamin B5 in the gut, it is believed that it can cause more acne breakouts. In conclusion, taking biotin in a small amount, 25 mcg, as provided in MDacne skin-clearing supplements, is beneficial to people with acne, while taking hair and nail supplements that usually contain 10000 mcg of biotin can lead to more acne.
I want to start taking an acne supplement; how do I make sure I choose a high-quality one?
When looking for high-quality acne supplements, check the label for these standards:
A GMP-certified plant means that the supplements were produced in compliance with the USA Food and Drug Administrations' (FDA) cGMP practices (Current Good Manufacturing Practices).
Non-GMO: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have their genetic materials altered by genetic engineering.
Gluten-free: Gluten is a collective name for proteins found in wheat. Some people may be allergic to gluten. Gluten can act as irritants and cause inflammation in the lining of the gut.
Customized vitamins + minerals for acne-prone
DIM supplements for women with adult and hormonal acne
Pantothenic acid for people with acne.
Relevant Scientific Papers:
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