Today’s post is a guest post by the team at Facing Acne and includes some useful information about vitamins and its effects on your skin. Hope you enjoy!
People have long turned to vitamins for their purported health benefits. From better hair to more energy to improved immune function, vitamins influence every level of our physical well-being. So it is not surprising that people would wonder whether vitamins might have an effect on acne. But will vitamins have a significant effect on the quality of your skin, especially if your acne is severe? The answer is more complicated than you might expect, and probably not as clear as you would like. Nonetheless, there are some very significant things we do know about how vitamins relate to skin health and how they may be used to help fight acne.
Of course, if you have suffered from acne for a while, you probably realize that in most cases a simple supplement is not going to solve the problem for you. You need to attack it with a multifaceted approach. There are lots of products available, like Proactiv, that are designed to treat acne directly. To get the best results, you probably want to consider adding a treatment plan like this to your arsenal.
Let’s take a look at which vitamins have been linked to acne and general skin health.
Of all the vitamins associated with acne, vitamin A is easily the most famous. Its skin-clearing properties have been well-touted by doctors, the media, and consumers alike. The most powerful (and controversial) acne treatment, Accutane, is a vitamin A derivative. So if you want to clear your skin, should you start popping vitamin A pills? As a matter of fact, no. It’s not as easy as that.
The problem with taking vitamin A orally is that, in order to have a significant effect on your acne, you would have to take so much that you would almost certainly poison yourself. Vitamin A is fat soluble, which makes it build up in the body over time, eventually becoming toxic at high levels. This is why most vitamin A treatments come in topical form, such as creams or lotions. A lower concentration can achieve some beneficial effects by applying it directly to the skin. These medications are known as retinoids, and help primarily by increasing the rate of skin regeneration.
As mentioned above, the most effective vitamin A treatment is the prescription drug Accutane (Isotretinoin). This is an incredibly potent vitamin A derivative that has achieved unparalleled results in clearing severe acne, but also comes with potentially equally serious side effects. For this reason, it remains very controversial. The bottom line is that you can achieve significant results from using vitamin A-derived products, just not in the form you will find in the vitamin and supplement aisle at the drugstore.
Zinc is a sometimes underappreciated mineral that, unbeknownst to many, affects our health on many levels. Severe zinc deficiency is rare in developed nations (though it is fairly common in undeveloped nations), but there is some evidence that acne sufferers may have lowered levels of zinc compared to the rest of the population. Many people with acne have reported positive effects from taking over-the-counter zinc supplements. It is important not to overdo it, however, as excessive zinc intake can lead to a copper deficiency which, if it becomes chronic, can have some serious side effects. A moderate dose of up to 30 mg a day is safe and should be more than enough to fix an existing deficiency.
Many skin care products include vitamin E in their formulations, and anecdotal evidence suggests some people have had very good results with improving their acne through the use of vitamin E, both orally and topically. There has not been a lot of research on the use of vitamin E for acne, but it has been noted that acne sufferers are often deficient in both vitamin E and A.
Vitamin B12: the Antagonist
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention vitamin B12, though for the opposite reason you may expect. B12 is an essential vitamin that is responsible for many important functions, including red blood cell formation and neurological function. However, several studies indicate that vitamin B12 supplementation may in fact aggravate or even cause acne in people who didn’t originally have it. So it may be a good idea to skip the vitamin B complex, or check your multivitamin to make sure it doesn’t include high levels of this normally beneficial compound.
Vitamins are a fundamental part of maintaining overall health, though medical studies are inconclusive regarding the benefits of supplementing them in pill form. Nonetheless, if you are suffering from acne it is worth looking at the vitamins that are most commonly linked to skin health and seeing if supplementing with (or even removing) one of them may have a positive effect.