The Independent Pharmacy

The Best Vitamins & Supplements For Acne

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 2 Feb 2024

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages, though it typically begins in adolescence. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, often due to hormonal changes, genetics, certain medications, and other factors. This allows bacteria to accumulate and cause inflammation and infection, resulting in red bumps, whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, nodules, and potential scarring.

Here at The Independent Pharmacy, we offer acne treatments, both over-the-counter and prescription strength – our team of medical professionals provide customised guidance for effective solutions.

The exact causes of acne are complex and multifactorial. Key contributors include:

  • Excess sebum (oil) production, which can clog pores
  • Build-up of dead skin cells within follicles
  • Bacterial growth (Cutibacterium acnes bacteria)
  • Inflammation and irritation
  • Hormonal imbalances or fluctuations, especially androgens like testosterone

While acne is not life-threatening, severe cases without proper care lead to permanent scarring. Seeking professional support and treatment of acne can mitigate psychological issues like poor self-image.

Different types of dietary supplements for acne treatment

In addition to typical acne treatments like over-the-counter topical treatments and prescription medications, certain vitamins, minerals and supplements may help manage acne symptoms. They can regulate hormone levels, reduce inflammation, improve antioxidant status and support healthy skin cell function.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that comes in different forms like retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and provitamin A carotenoids. It helps regulate sebum production, supports cell growth/renewal, reduces inflammation and enhances immunity – all key for skin health.

Food sources include liver, fish oils, dairy products, orange/yellow vegetables and some fortified cereals. Those with acne may benefit from vitamin A supplementation, but only under medical supervision due to toxicity risks if over-consumed.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that plays many crucial roles in the body like protein synthesis, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation and more. Emerging research suggests it may also help improve inflammatory skin disorders. It is believed that magnesium's calming effect on the nervous system may influence sebum production and inflammation.

Optimal magnesium intake (from food or supplements) may also cause conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Maintaining adequate magnesium levels may support healthy skin function. Good dietary sources include nuts, seeds, legumes, leafy greens and whole grains.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune function, but emerging evidence shows it may also help treat and prevent acne. Natural sources include sunlight, fish, eggs and fortified foods, but many people are still deficient, especially in winter months. It’s believed that vitamin D helps regulate skin cell production and inflammation.

A 2021 study found acne patients frequently had insufficient vitamin D levels. Supplementing significantly decreased acne severity after 2 months, leading researchers to conclude vitamin D has therapeutic effects.

While more research is still needed, these findings suggest optimal vitamin D status, whether from sun exposure, diet or supplements, may help manage acne symptoms. Those with deficiency could see improvement by correcting levels.

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids may benefit inflammatory skin conditions like acne in multiple ways:

  • Improving skin barrier function by regulating skin cell production and sebum levels
  • Inhibiting inflammation from acne lesions/breakouts
  • Accelerating healing of acne wounds and scarring

Fish oil can be taken through oral supplementation, usually involving gel capsules. It may also help when applied topically to the skin, allowing direct absorption of fatty acids.

Overall, research indicates fish oil holds promise for managing acne symptoms. Its omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA demonstrate abilities to control inflammation, oil production, skin cell turnover and lesion healing – all relevant factors in acne development and treatment.

B-vitamins

B-vitamins play vital roles in energy production, metabolism, brain function and more. Some also impact hormone regulation and skin health – both important factors in acne.

For example, one 2014 study found taking vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) significantly reduced facial lesions, inflammation and oil production in acne patients after just 12 weeks. B5 may help normalise oil gland function.

Vitamin B6 is also important for modulating oestrogen and testosterone balance. Research shows B6 supplementation regulated hormones and reduced premenstrual acne over two months.

Additionally, low levels of B-vitamins generally are linked to skin issues like acne, dermatitis, rashes and sensitivity. Optimal intake can prevent deficiency-associated skin disorders.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and antioxidant that supports several aspects of skin health:

  • As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects the skin against free radical damage that can accelerate ageing
  • It boosts collagen production for firmness and elasticity
  • Research shows it reduces inflammation to help treat inflammatory skin conditions like acne

Good food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli and peppers. Supplements are also widely available. One high quality option is Thorne Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids.

Overall, vitamin C intake contributes to skin health through antioxidant protection, collagen support and inflammation reduction. Meeting daily requirements from foods and/or quality supplements like Thorne can promote clear, youthful skin.

Probiotics

Probiotics are “good” live bacteria and yeasts that provide health benefits when consumed. Emerging research shows probiotics may promote skin health and help treat conditions like acne.

While more research is still needed, current findings indicate that consuming probiotic-rich foods or supplements may support healthy, clear skin by reducing inflammation and balancing the gut microbiome.

Maca Root

Maca root comes from a plant native to Peru. Incorporating supplementation into daily health routines may help balance hormones, lift energy and mood levels, enhance fitness performance and benefit sexual health. Whilst research specifically linking maca to acne treatment is lacking, its beneficial effects on hormonal balance and stress could plausibly reduce breakouts.

The standard recommended dosage is 1,500 to 3,000 mg daily. Maca powder can be comfortably consumed when added to drinks like smoothies or milk, mixed into porridge or yoghurt, or used as an ingredient whilst baking.

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral vital for regulating oxidative stress and supporting antioxidant systems within the body. Studies show selenium deficiency or low status links to skin damage and disorders.

This essential mineral plays a key role in the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which protects skin cells from excess free radicals and reactive oxygen species that cause premature ageing. Selenium also seems to guard skin against UV radiation damage.

Ways to increase selenium levels include eating Brazil nuts, seafood, eggs, meat, seeds, whole grains and mushrooms. Quality supplements are widely available as well, with the recommended daily intake being 55 micrograms. Boosting dietary selenium ensures the skin withstands oxidative assaults.

Green Tea Extract

Incorporating antioxidant-rich green tea extract (GTE) into skincare routines helps treat and prevent acne breakouts.

There is strong evidence that GTE and its polyphenol compounds called catechins reduce excess sebum production in follicles. A notable 2017 study confirmed GTE efficiently inhibits sebocytes, the oil-producing skin cells frequently overactive in acne-prone skin.

The catechins in topical GTE preparations also appear to calm inflammation and battle the bacteria partly responsible for acne infection and scarring. This antimicrobial effect paired with sebum reduction creates an effective therapy for managing acne of all severities.

What to Look for in a Vitamin for Clear Skin

Several key micronutrients show proven benefits for promoting clear, healthy skin. When selecting vitamins and acne treatments, checking labels for the following ingredients is important:

  • Vitamin A - This skin-boosting nutrient regulates sebum production and cellular growth/turnover within follicles. It displays anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial properties and reduces likelihood of clogged pores when implemented properly. Look for vitamin A as retinol or carotenoids.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) - Studies show niacinamide repairs skin, reduces inflammation/redness, improves elasticity, minimise pore appearance and controls excess oiliness by normalising sebum production within follicles.
  • Zinc - This essential mineral regulates oil gland function, battles acne-causing bacteria through antimicrobial activity, calms inflammation and promotes wound healing. Zinc deficiencies frequently coincide with inflammatory skin conditions.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Acne and How the Independent Pharmacy Can Help

While home remedies and over-the-counter prevention measures can help manage mild to moderate acne, severe or complex cases warrant professional skin care guidance. Reasons to book a consultation with a dermatologist include:

  • Recurring moderate to severe acne not improving with lifestyle measures or standard acne regimens
  • Deep cysts and nodules appearing that are painful or show early signs of scarring
  • New onset of significant breakouts after starting a new medication
  • Lasting dark marks/discolouration and skin textural damage persisting even once active acne clears

Hormonal acne tends to manifest around the jawline, chin and neck areas in females. Lesions often persist on lower cheeks and flare premenstrually with monthly hormonal shifts. If you want to find the right treatment and start getting control over your acne, get in touch with The Online Pharmacy today to find out how our treatments could help. We’re dedicated to offering a caring, compassionate service to help you regain control over your acne.

FAQs

Which vitamin is best for acne?

Vitamin A helps regulate sebum production, supports skin cell turnover, reduces inflammation, and enhances immunity to manage acne. Those with deficiency may benefit the most from supplementation under medical supervision.

What supplements should I take daily for acne?

A multivitamin containing zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, selenium and B-vitamins provides essential skin-boosting nutrients to help regulate oil production, inflammation, hormone balance and antioxidant status for preventing acne.

Which vitamin A supplement is good for acne?

Look for vitamin A as retinol or carotenoids from reputable supplement brands. Standard doses paired with vitamins C, D, E support healthy skin cell development and protect against oxidative damage triggering breakouts.

Is vitamin A or vitamin C better for acne?

Both are beneficial – vitamin A regulates sebum production while vitamin C protects skin through its antioxidant effects. They work synergistically so combining both alongside other acne-fighting compounds like zinc creates an optimal supplement regimen for clear skin.

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