Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that will affect people both physically and emotionally. The condition can range from a mild case of one or two pimples a month to a severe case of cystic acne that can envelope most of the neck, face or scalp. Some would like to believe there is one specific vitamin which will help treat acne in a miraculous way, to clear the condition and relieve the suffering.
Unfortunately, this is not the way the body works. Although research has shown that there are vitamins which assist the body in healing acne inflammation there is not just one. A combination of vitamins will make a difference in the ability of the skin to tolerate environmental pollutants and clogged pores while at the same time not develop acne.
Researchers know that vitamins and minerals are powerful antioxidants. In fact oxidants work to eliminate toxins from the body and play an important role in the health of all organ systems, of which the skin is the largest. One specific factor that has been shown to have a role in the development of blemishes is poor nutrition and the lack of essential vitamins and minerals. (1, 2)
Interestingly, vitamins can also cause an outbreak of acne when they are taken in large amounts and the body cannot adequately dispose the material. The skin may be the largest organ but it is also an excretory organ. This means it is a protective layer against the environment which also excretes or gets rid of waste and toxins. The skin will transport sweat, toxins and wastes into the environment through the pores. When someone takes a specific combination of acne vitamins in excess the excretion of these vitamins can results in more blemishes.
One vitamin which has been shown to improve skin conditions is vitamin A. It does this by reducing the production of oil and therefore prevents acne and strengthens the protective tissue. Vitamin A is necessary for the repair and maintenance of mucous membranes and will help in the transportation of toxins.
Vitamin B is a multi-factorial vitamin, which means there are several vitamins which fall under this classification. The vitamins include riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, and pyridoxine. Each of these plays an important role in the overall health of the body’s skin. These B complex vitamins also help to reduce and relieve stress and anxiety. This is important because research has shown that stress and anxiety will increase hormonal imbalance and trigger an acne outbreak. (3)
Vitamin B1 will act as an anti-oxidant, flushing out toxins from the body as well in helping in the digestion and circulation of the blood. Vitamin B2, riboflavin, should be taken with vitamin A in order to improve absorption. It will maintain and improve membranes, hair, skin and nails. A lack of vitamin B2 has been shown to lead to acne outbreaks, making it an important vitamin for acne supplementation. (4)
Vitamin B3, Niacinamide, helps improve circulation which is essential for metabolism of fat, carbohydrates and proteins. Vitamin B5, pantothenic acid, is vital to reduce stress and is required for the proper functioning of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands will regulate some of the hormones circulating throughout the body which will in turn affect the outbreak of acne.
The final B complex vitamin is vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, which is essential for the production and function of the immune system. Without the immune system bacterial overgrowth can overpower the organs of the body causing infections. To a lesser degree, this vitamin can also decrease the protection against skin bacteria leading to increased blemishes.
Another vitamin which can help to improve the success of a clear skin is Vitamin C. This vitamin is a powerful anti-oxidant which helps in the repair of tissue growth, boosting the immune system and protection against infection. Vitamin C plays another role by preventing excess fat accumulation in the body and protects against cell damage through the formation of free radicals.
Before attempting to formulate your own anti-acne vitamin concoction discuss your options with your dermatologist. Some of the vitamins are fat-soluble while others are water-soluble. It is important to never take fat soluble vitamins in excess without expressed direction and follow-up of the physician. While water-soluble vitamins will be flushed out of the body through the kidneys, fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fat of the body. This is key to the potential for vitamin overdose, leading to significant side effects.
Using vitamin supplementation to control acne outbreaks can be a long-term, cost-effective, over-the-counter treatment method. The benefits of maintaining good nutrition however, do not stop with the skin. Research has shown that people who maintain healthy nutrition will not only have clear skin but also be better able to lose weight, fight pain and decrease the side effects of other crippling illnesses.
(1) Acta Dermato-Venereologica: Zinc Salts Effects on Granulocyte Zinc Concentrations and Chemotaxis in Acne Patients
(2) Archives of Dermatology: Acne Rosacea
(3) ScienceDaily: Science of Stress; Dermatologists Detail the Scary Signs of Stress Revealed by Skin
(4) Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University: Riboflavin