Acne can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition. In many cases, it’s extremely persistent, and sufferers find themselves spending huge amounts of time and money to reduce occurrences of acne.
What if there was a more effective way to calm your acne? What if you could simply up your vitamin and mineral intake, or in other words, get healthier all around?
This solution may be more feasible than it seems. There are many vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin, and most are available in supplement form. We’re going to take a look at which vitamins and minerals may help and check out the best vitamin stack for acne.
What is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition triggered by overproduction of sebum or oil by the sebaceous glands (source). This build up of oil on the skin leads to clogging of pores (tiny holes in the surface of the skin) with dead skin and bacteria. As the blockage progresses, the inflammatory process begins – leading to redness, pain and swelling.
Depending on the exact structure of the blockage, it will appear as a blackhead or whitehead. A whitehead is a small pocket of pus under the skin which appears as a white bump. If the pus is exposed to air, its coloring turns darker and it becomes a blackhead.
In more severe cases, presence of the bacteria P. Acnes leads to larger pustules, nodules and cysts.
What Causes Acne?
As we have discussed, the direct cause of acne is clogged pores due to overproduction of sebum. However, there’s much more to the story than that. Hormones have a significant effect on the development of persistent acne.
Genetics may also play a role in the development of acne. If your parents or siblings suffered from acne, you’re more likely to be affected too. Some medications can also cause acne or worsen an existing condition.
What are the Traditional Treatments for Acne?
Acne is frequently treated through the use of facial cleansers, treatments, toners, masks, or moisturizers that contain proven over the counter acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Good hygiene habits, like washing face and hair daily and not touching the face, may also help.
Many people find that visiting a dermatologist is the best way to effectively treat acne. For serious cases, it’s definitely ideal to have a medical professional to provide some guidance.
Eating a healthy diet is also thought by many to help improve acne. Avoiding greasy foods or chocolate probably won’t be as helpful as many old wives’ tales suggest, but eating a balanced diet full of healthy, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, good fats, and hearty protein just might.
Who Does Acne Affect?
Most people think of teenagers when they think of acne sufferers. It’s absolutely true that teenagers are the most likely to experience acne due to hormonal fluctuations (and sometimes poor hygiene habits), but it’s also true that a fair majority of the population experience acne at some point or another.
Adult acne is far more common that most people think, and 80% of people between 11 and 30 report suffering from acne (source). People who are under a great deal of stress, those experiencing hormone fluctuations due to medications or life changes, and people who are exposed to air pollution are also at higher risk.
Which Vitamins, Minerals, and Other Supplements are Good for Acne?
There are several vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that may help maintain healthy skin and prevent or even treat acne. Generally speaking, substances with anti-inflammatory properties are ideal.
How does Zinc Help Acne?
Zinc is thought to help acne by aiding in the balancing of hormones, a common cause of overactive sebaceous glands. Studies have found oral zinc supplementation to be effective (source). Many people are deficient in the mineral zinc, so even if it doesn’t cure your acne, it will most likely benefit overall health.
What can Vitamin A do for Acne?
Vitamin A is a substance known for its skin benefits. Retinol, a well-known ingredient in many “miracle” skin creams, is actually a derivative of vitamin A. Studies have shown that they may be helpful when taken internally too (source). Vitamin A may be helpful for acne sufferers due to its role in healing wounds.
How Can Vitamin E Help?
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning it helps eliminate free radicals that cause damage to our skin. It also helps with blood flow and the immune system, which may help keep infection from occurring in the sebaceous glands (source).
It is also thought that vitamin E deficiency may be at least partially responsible for acne (source). This means that supplementing it, or increasing your vitamin E-rich food intake at the very least, may be beneficial.
What Affects can Vitamin B3 Have on Acne?
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, also plays a role in hormone production and regulation. Because of this, it’s worth looking for to find the best vitamin stack for acne. Beware of flushing (redness and warmth) of the skin when using niacin (source).
Warnings about Using Supplements to Treat Acne
Always speak to your physician before starting any vitamin, mineral, or other supplements. This is especially important if you are taking any prescription medicines or have any other long term health conditions.
Vitamin E is often thought of as a premier acne supplement ingredient, but be wary. Large doses of vitamin E taken internally can cause bleeding – even in the brain! Therefore it’s vital to consult your doctor before using any type of vitamin E supplement.
Stick to recommended dosages, and check out the upper intake levels of each ingredient in a new supplement for your gender and age against the dosage the supplement contains. While many of the above ingredients are water soluble and leave the body quickly, some are not and may cause toxicity.
How to Choose the Best Vitamin Stack for Acne
Look for a supplement that contains several of the acne-fighting vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that we’ve already talked about. Choose a supplement that is made in a GMP (good manufacturing practice for pharmaceuticals) certified facility, is third party tested, and is made by a reputable manufacturer. Aside from these things, find a supplement that works for you. The size of the capsules, dosages, price, and dosage times per day are personal preferences.