Ever wake up to discover that your chin or jawline has begun sporting a new crop of spots? You’re not alone. In fact, it has been shown through studies that between 40 and 55% of people between the ages of 20 and 40 periodically experience acne, from mild to severe.
Here’s the thing: Acne presents a number of issues for those affected, ranging from emotional disturbance to physical discomfort. For one, it can hurt your self-confidence at work or in social settings, and depending on the type of acne and severity, it can be pretty painful (cystic acne tends to be considerably more painful).
You may have tried over-the-counter remedies or prescription drugs prescribed by a dermatologist. There are, however, more natural (and often more cost-effective!) ways to support healthy skin. This is where the seven best daily supplements for acne come into play—because you shouldn’t have to live with red, painful skin.
- Vitamin A for Acne
Vitamin A is an effective antioxidant, which is why you’ll want to make sure you keep it on hand in your wellness pantry. What’s so good about vitamin A? For one, it’s an antioxidant, a substance that removes skin-aging free radicals―unfriendly, damaging toxins in the environment, smoke, and the sun’s rays. Because vitamin A helps you shed dead, clogged skin cells and aids in the skin’s healing processes, dermatologists commonly recommend vitamin A supplementation to patients with acne.
Aside from helping to care for your skin, vitamin A also supports your immune system health, protects healthy vision, and promotes production of red blood cells.
Topical vitamin A, like retinoic acid (also known as tretinoin or retinoids), may be the right option for you. According to the National Institutes of Health, retinoic acid can support overall skin health and “lessen the roughness of facial skin, reduce hyperpigmentation, and decrease the number and severity of fine facial wrinkles caused by photo-aging.” It can also reduce inflammation and acne scarring.
It’s important, however, to note that vitamin A—taken as a supplement—is fat soluble, and it can be toxic if it builds up in the body. For this reason, you want to avoid high amounts of this supplement, especially if you’re pregnant. With that being said, if you are planning on or trying to become pregnant, it is important that you check with your physician before starting a new supplement regimen.
You can get vitamin A through supplementation and also by consumption of beef liver, cod liver oil, salmon, goat cheese, hard boiled eggs, carrots, spinach, watermelon, and apricots.
- Zinc for Acne
According to the journal Dermatology Research and Practice, zinc is often used to treat acne—and with good reason. Zinc is responsible for a lot of healthy body functions, including reproductive function, metabolic health, immune health, and wound repair. Both oral zinc sulphate and zinc gluconate have proven useful in the treatment of moderate to severe acne.
How does zinc work to combat acne? Zinc can help regulate sebum (also known as oil) production. But here’s the thing: Sebum is both friend and foe. Our sebaceous glands produce it because it helps our skin function. On the other hand, these glands can go into overproduction (due to stress or hormonal changes), leading to oily skin and acne production. Zinc can help keep overproduction at bay.
You can ramp up your zinc levels by supplementing and by eating chickpeas, lentils, shellfish, red meat, cashews, and eggs.
- Vitamin C for Acne
Healthy skin normally contains (and requires) high concentrations of vitamin C—the one vitamin your mom probably told you take every single day as a child. It turns that this cold-and-flu-fighting vitamin is also responsible for your skin’s health, including its elasticity, collagen synthesis, and reaction to environmental stress. In fact, supplementing with vitamin C is the best way to give your skin a real boost. And because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, it is often used to treat and prevent acne breakouts.
This skin-loving power player is mega helpful: If you get regular breakouts or if you’re simply dealing with puffy, red skin post-breakout, vitamin C supplementation may help you reduce those not-so-fun inflammatory effects—restoring your skin to its healthy, redness-free glow, according to a study found in the journal Nutrients.
You can optimize your vitamin C levels by supplementing and also by munching on oranges, kiwis, lemons, grapefruits, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, green peppers, and Brussel sprouts.
To help clear up your acne, it may be beneficial to incorporate the all-powerful selenium, a mineral that actually preserves the levels of other antioxidants, into your routine in addition to using other antioxidants such as zinc.
Here’s what you should know: Your body contains an antioxidant called glutathione that prevents inflammation, which is associated with acne. Glutathione actually depends on selenium to function properly.
If you have persistent acne, you may also have low levels of selenium. You can use supplements to increase your selenium intake. In addition, you can also enjoy foods such as Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, halibut, grass-fed beef, and sardines.
Like selenium, magnesium is another mineral that supports healthy glutathione levels. This mineral cuts down on the inflammatory effects of an acne breakout while also helping to fight stress-related breakouts. It does this by inhibiting an overload of cortisol, also referred to as the stress hormone.
In fact, your body naturally releases magnesium as a defense against stress; however, sometimes you need more of it. Incorporating a daily supplement into your regimen may help you boost your natural stores—while guarding against pesky acne breakouts. It’s a win-win!
Another powerful magnesium benefit? It promotes healthy sleep by increasing your levels of both melatonin and serotonin. When we sleep well, our bodies heal and fight stress, enabling us to take control of our overall health. And good health leads to great skin!
You can add a magnesium supplement to your diet, and you can also munch on dark chocolate (yum!), dark, leafy greens, tuna, soybeans, shrimp and grapes.
You’ll definitely want to increase your intake of omega-3s― the all-powerful fatty acid. Yes, that’s right: fat! But don’t worry—it’s the good fat that your body craves for optimal health. Not only does it promote heart health, but it can protect against skin inflammation and promote healthy aging. In addition, one journal also found that taking an omega-3 supplement such as fish oil may promote healing in people with moderate to severe acne. When taken for acne, omega-3s inhibit two specific chemicals, called PGE2 and LTB4, that are directly related to breakouts.
To get more omega-3s into your diet, you’ll want to take a supplement, as well as increase your intake of fatty seafood (especially tuna and salmon), walnuts, canola oil, and flax seed.
- Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid) has long been used by dermatologists to fight against acne, moisturize the skin, and heal skin wounds. According to Dr. Dach, “Vitamin B5 works by reducing the oil production of the sebaceous glands.” Dach also recommends using L-Carnitine in conjunction with pantothenic acid, which can boost its effects.
One study concluded that B5 supplementation was able to “reduce area-specific and inflammatory lesions” on the skin.
You can get B5 from eating pork, chicken, liver, whole grains, egg yolk, milk, yogurt, legumes, lentils, salmon, shellfish, kale, and mushrooms.
Take Advantage of the Best Vitamins the Fight Acne
You shouldn’t have to wait for your pesky acne breakouts to simply stop. Living with red, inflamed skin is inconvenient at best and emotionally debilitating at worst. The good news? You can treat acne naturally and effectively—from the inside out.
Contact a BodyLogicMD-affiliated physician to discuss supplements for acne management, as well as ways to maintain a healthy, skin-friendly lifestyle.