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Acne is a bothersome problem most people have been familiar with at some point in their lives. Affecting adolescents and young adults the most, this skin disease can persist for years and can even lead to scarring if not treated. In severe cases, doctors prescribe both topical and oral antibiotics. Long-term use of these antibiotics can cause digestive problems, bacterial resistance, and more unwanted effects. Some formerly popular acne medications have even been recalled due to safety issues. Research shows that people with acne have lower levels of certain nutrients. Incorporating more of these minerals and vitamins that help acne into your diet, either through food sources or supplements, might help you to treat your acne and clear up your skin.
Zinc for Acne
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Many studies have found an association between low levels of zinc and acne. Zinc is an essential element for the growth and development of the body and is necessary for the normal development of skin tissue. In 2014, one team of researchers found that the severity and type of acne lesions was related to lower serum zinc levels. Zinc inhibits proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for many acne symptoms. It also modulates immune system functioning and has anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers estimate that more than 30% of the world’s population is deficient in zinc.
Nutritional sources of zinc: Nuts, seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, oysters, and lean red meat.
Zinc supplement: Take 30 to 50 mg per day of zinc for acne treatment. Since taking this much zinc for extended periods can impair copper absorption, take 1 to 2 mg copper along with the zinc.
Vitamins That Help Acne
Significantly lower levels of vitamin E are seen in patients with acne compared to healthy people without acne.[1,3] The lower the vitamin E levels, the more severe the acne. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting the skin against damage from UV exposure, inflammation, and other processes. It may be depleted in patients with acne due to the increase in inflammation and the need for more antioxidant protection. The chances that you are not getting enough vitamin E in your diet are very good given that only 8% of U.S. men and 2.4% of women get the recommended amount (15 mg or 22.5 IU). Researchers suggest supporting your body with foods rich in vitamin E to prevent and treat acne.
Vitamin E supplement: Instead of synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol), take 400 IU per day of natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol).
Along with the essential role vitamin A plays with vision, it is also required for healthy skin. Low vitamin A levels are considered to be a risk factor for acne and, in fact, those with the most severe acne tend to have the lowest levels of vitamin A.[1,3] Certain forms of vitamin A inhibit the activity of sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum, a substance that exacerbates acne in excess quantities. Authors of this research suggest increasing your intake of vitamin A-rich foods to prevent and treat acne.
Vitamin A supplement: Take 2,500 IU (750 mcg) of preformed vitamin A (usually labeled vitamin A acetate or vitamin A palmitate) along with up to 2,500 IU of additional vitamin A as beta-carotene. Higher doses of vitamin A can be dangerous and should not be used without medical supervision due to the risk of toxicity.
Vitamin and mineral supplementation can be dangerous if not done properly. Some of the vitamins that help acne can interfere with certain prescription medications, and if taken in excess, can have serious side effects. Before adding any supplements to your regime, talk with your doctor.
Share Your Experience
What natural approaches to acne treatment have you tried? Do you take any minerals or vitamins that help acne to keep your skin healthy? Share you experience in the comments section below.
This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated.