Vitamins and minerals for acne: Treatment and prevention – Medical News Today

By | February 11, 2019
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that causes pimples and other skin lesions. Some vitamins and minerals may help treat and prevent acne.

Acne is a common condition that can affect anyone, but it often occurs during puberty. It develops when glands on the skin produce too much oil and become clogged with bacteria and dead skin cells. These clogged pores can swell, which leads to the formation of pimples.

A wide range of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatments can effectively treat acne. However, some vitamins and minerals may also be of benefit to people with acne.

In this article, we discuss which vitamins and minerals may help prevent and treat acne and consider the evidence supporting their use. We also cover some other natural remedies and general prevention tips.

Zinc

two teenage girls laughing
People with acne may find vitamins and minerals helpful.

Zinc is an essential mineral that contributes to a range of cellular functions, including:

  • immune system functioning
  • protein and DNA synthesis
  • wound healing
  • cell division
  • enzyme activity

Zinc may also play a role in the development of acne.

A 2013 study investigated the blood levels of zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E in people with and without acne. The researchers found that the levels of all of these vitamins and minerals were significantly lower in the people with acne. They concluded that a diet rich in these nutrients could help prevent or treat acne.

A systematic review from 2013 also suggests that oral and topical forms of zinc may help treat acne. The authors found evidence indicating that zinc has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in reducing acne. Zinc may also decrease oil production on the skin.

It is easy to include zinc as a part of a varied diet. Foods that are good sources of zinc include:

  • seafood, such as oysters, crab, and lobster
  • red meat
  • poultry
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • beans, nuts, and whole grains
  • dairy products

It is also possible to take zinc as a dietary supplement, either as part of a multivitamin tablet or on its own.

People can purchase a range of zinc supplements online.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the name of a group of chemicals called retinoids. This vitamin plays a role in many bodily functions, including:

  • immune system functioning
  • vision
  • reproduction
  • communication between cells
  • proper functioning of the heart, lungs, and kidneys

Vitamin A may also help counter the actions of Propionibacterium acnes, a type of bacteria that plays a significant role in the development of acne.

A study from 2014 found that vitamin A appears to disrupt some of the effects that P. acnes bacteria have on skin cells. However, researchers need to carry out further studies to develop a better understanding of these effects and determine how to use vitamin A to treat acne.

Many different foods contain vitamin A, including:

  • beef liver
  • certain types of fish, such as herring, salmon, and tuna
  • green vegetables, including spinach and broccoli
  • orange and yellow vegetables, such as sweet potato, carrot, and squash
  • fruits, such as cantaloupe, apricot, and mango
  • dairy products
  • fortified breakfast cereals

Vitamin A is also available as a dietary supplement from most health food stores and pharmacies. Vitamin A supplements are also available to purchase online.

Vitamin D

young woman eating cereal with fruit
Both breakfast cereals and milk contain vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is essential to bone health. It also plays an important role in the communication between nerve cells and the body’s ability to fight off germs.

A 2016 study found that people with acne have lower levels of vitamin D than those without the skin condition. This deficiency may be a factor in the development of acne.

According to a study from 2014, Vitamin D also blocks P. acnes from affecting skin cells. These bacteria play a significant role in the development of acne.

The results of these studies suggest that vitamin D may be beneficial in treating or preventing acne, but more research is necessary to understand these findings better.

The body produces vitamin D naturally when ultraviolet light from the sun contacts the skin. However, some foods also contain vitamin D, including:

  • fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • beef liver
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • mushrooms
  • fortified foods, such as milk, fruit juices, and breakfast cereals

Most health stores and pharmacies sell vitamin D supplements. These supplements are also available to purchase online.

Other natural remedies

Many effective OTC treatments are available for acne, such as products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Prescription-strength treatments are also available from a doctor or dermatologist.

Alternatively, some natural remedies include:

  • Tea tree oil. Some evidence suggests that topical tea tree oil can help treat mild-to-moderate acne. People can purchase a wide range of products containing tea tree oil online.
  • Barberry extract. One study indicates that barberry extract supplements may be beneficial for moderate-to-severe acne in adolescents. Barberry extract products are available to purchase online.

Prevention tips

man washing his hair in the shower
Washing hair regularly can help prevent acne.

It is not always possible for a person to prevent acne, which can sometimes run in families.

However, some ways to reduce the risk of getting acne and help prevent further outbreaks include:

  • Washing the skin gently to remove excess oil and dead skin cells. However, be aware that cleaning too much can aggravate the skin and make acne worse.
  • Showering after exercising or sweating, as sweat can clog pores.
  • Avoiding tight clothing that prevents the skin from breathing.
  • Using noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic skin products and cosmetics.
  • Keeping hair products away from the face.
  • Avoiding touching, picking, or popping pimples.
  • Washing the hair with shampoo regularly, especially if it is oily.

Summary

Acne is a common skin condition that often develops during puberty. Many different OTC and prescription treatments are available for treating acne, but getting enough vitamins and minerals may also benefit the skin.

In particular, zinc and vitamins A and D may help treat and prevent acne. Many foods naturally contain these nutrients, including meats, fish, vegetables, and dairy products.

Fortified food products, such as breakfast cereals, milk, and fruit juices, are another excellent source.

A person can also take dietary supplements, including multivitamin products, to ensure that they are getting enough of these essential vitamins and minerals.

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