How Food Intake Can Affect Acne

We humans eat between 1 to 6 times a day- if not more. What we put into our bodies doing these feedings directly impacts our state of mind and body.

It was once believed that there was no relation between acne and food. However, numerous studies and common sense are starting to turn this outdated notion on its head.

In the following section we will look at how vitamins and minerals in various foods can reduce or promote the prevalence of acne.

Additionally, you can decide which foods you plan to eat to gain these nutritional benefits. I suggest when you eat; imagine how the food is benefiting your skin and body.

Vitamin A and Beta-carotene

Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

Vitamin A may trigger the sebaceous glands to reduce sebum production.

This is one of the actions of Accutane- a derivative of vitamin A and a drug prescribed for severe acne. Having less oil produced on the face lowers the likelihood that oil will accumulate in the pores and cause acne-like inflammations.

Beta-carotene, which is found in orange and dark green produce, is converted to vitamin A by the body.

Beta-carotene also prevents the breakdown of cells and tissues that is brought on by oxidation and free radicals. This aids the immune system while slowing the rate at which we age.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that serum retinol (levels of vitamin A in the blood) was significantly lower in all patients with severe cases of acne.

What foods have it

Vitamin A:

Liver, oily fish, milk, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, apricots, broccoli cheese and whole



Carrots, sweet potato, winter squash, broccoli, Brussels spouts, collard greens, kale, spinach, pumpkin, squash, apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, nectarines, mango and papaya.

Attention: If you decide to use a supplement, please note that Vitamin A is fatsoluble so the body stores it.

Excessive amounts of vitamin A taken for an extended period can be toxic.

If you take a supplement, experts generally advise that you not exceed 10,000 international units (3.3 milligrams) per day unless you are under the supervision of a medical professional. Also, pregnant women must avoid vitamin A supplements since high doses can cause birth defects.

B Vitamins

Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

This group of vitamins aids in the maintenance of healthy skin. B6 vitamins may reduce the onset of acne associated with the menstrual cycle. Likewise, studies have found that women taking supplements of 50 milligrams of B6 and B3 (Niacin) can increase the blood flow to skin, which may help better manage acne.

Plus, when your body has a shortage of B6, the production of lymphocytes is greatly reduced. Lymphocytes are white blood cells involved in protecting the immune system.

Having adequate amounts of B6 also help alleviate problems associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This is noteworthy since numerous women experience PMS related acne flare- ups that can be challenging if not seemingly impossible to treat.

Dermatologist Alan R. Shalita, MD, co-author of “The Effect of the Menstrual Cycle on Acne”, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, confirmed with his study that many women do indeed experience acne in conjunction with premenstrual syndrome.

This is all the more reason to ensure that you are receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin B6 especially before and around your period. Women loose several nutrients during this natural healing time; some even become slightly anemic. You can help protect yourself against this nutrient loss by eating right beforehand.

What foods have it

Avocado, fortified bran oat and wheat flakes, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, bananas, dried figs, potatoes, some beef steak cuts (not ground beef), beef livers, lamb, veal, wild game, fresh chestnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, chicken (light meat especially), hazelnuts, duck, goose, turkey (light meat), trout, salmon, carrot juice, tomato paste, brewer’s yeast, spinach and watermelon

B3 (Niacin)

Bagels, wheat, fortified wheat bran flakes, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, rice bran, wild rice, mushrooms, baked potatoes, chuck roast, beef liver, veal, dairy products, wild game, sesame seeds, tuna, halibut, peanuts, almonds and swordfish.

Vitamin C

Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants. This vitamin can help control the free radicals created as white blood cells attack foreign or toxic substances in the blood and skin. Vitamin C also boosts the immune system so that your body is better prepared to fight off toxins.

What foods have it

Lemons, kiwi, cantaloupe, broccoli, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, papaya, strawberries, grapefruit and oranges.

Vitamin E

Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

Like Vitamin C, vitamin E serves to boost the immune system and help remove free radicals from the body before they can aggravate or provoke the presence of acne.

What foods have it

Vegetable oils, almonds, peanuts, soybeans, whole grains, wheat germ, avocado and green leafy vegetables (such as kale).


Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

Chromium is a mineral, and is estimated to be deficient in 90 percent of American diets. Some preliminary studies propose that this mineral may be effective in treating acne.

This is because chromium helps regulate blood sugar levels. A study conducted by Dr. Loren Cordain, Ph.D. found that an increase in blood sugar could cause a series of hormonal changes that may promote development of acne formations.

In a study reported in Medical Hypotheses, researchers found that patients with erratic blood glucose also experienced severe acne.

After nine patients were given two teaspoons daily of high-chromium yeast containing 400 mcg of chromium, their acne condition improved rapidly.

What foods have it

Brewer’s yeast, calf’s liver, blackstrap molasses, wheat germ, wheat bran, whole grains, mushrooms, apples with skin, green peas, prunes, nuts, chicken breast and oysters.


Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

Selenium is a trace mineral and an essential component of an antioxidant and detoxifying enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. These qualities allow selenium to help the body fight free radicals that are formed during normal metabolism.

Studies have discovered depressed levels of glutathione peroxidase in people with acne. In fact, a study found that a daily supplement of selenium (200 micrograms) and vitamin E (10 milligrams) taken for 6 to 12 weeks increased glutathione peroxidase levels and improved pustular acne symptoms.

What foods that have it

Seafood, meat, wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, onion, garlic, mushrooms, Swiss chard and orange juice.

Should you elect to supplement selenium in your diet, the recommended amount is about 200 micrograms per day, .

Organic forms of selenium (selenomethionine and high-selenium yeast) are absorbed more efficiently than inorganic forms.

You may purchase a supplement that combines Vitamin E and selenium since these components work together. Exercise caution if you exceed 400 micrograms of selenium per day as higher doses may cause loss of hair and fingernails, nausea, depression and anxiety.


Why it can help reduce the presence of acne

Zinc is a mineral that facilitates the transport of vitamin A. Zinc thereby assists in wound healing; support of immune function and regulation of the sebaceous glands’ activity. Higher concentrations of zinc may lower sebaceous gland secretion as it prevents the conversion of testosterone to its active form.

Carl Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D, noting that zinc deficiencies are widespread in America, feels teens often develop acne as a result of deficiencies of this mineral.

Studies have found that zinc levels in the skin cells and blood are often low in adolescent males who are more predisposed to acne.

A study published in Pediatric Clinics of North America determined that both oral and topical zinc are highly effective against severe cases of acne. Likewise, studies concluded that 30 milligrams of supplemental zinc significantly reduced inflammation in patients with acne.

What foods have it

Oysters, seafood, red meat, poultry, yogurt, milk, wheat bran, wheat germ and whole grains

Attention: Taking too much zinc from supplements has a toxic effect, which can include copper deficiency, heart problems and anemia.

Excessive amounts of zinc can also depress the immune system, thus making the spreading of acne easier. If you take a zinc supplement, do not exceed 40 milligrams per day, unless otherwise directed by a health professional.


Why it can help reduce or aggravate the presence of acne The next mineral is a misunderstood one that should be examined by you. For example, some experts have found that unnecessary amounts of iodine may cause acne.

However, I have personally supplemented my diet with iodine food sources for two weeks after reading how a thyroid imbalances can lead to a series of problems which include: loss of energy; feeling excessively tied; and needing to sleep longer hours with no improvement in your energy level.

Also, I never added iodized salt to my food, which made me susceptible to an iodine deficiency. Supplementing your diet with iodine allows the thyroid to perform many of its critical jobs.

However, since we are all individuals, you will need to analyze your own life to determine your iodine needs. Scientists have confirmed that even minute traces of iodine are strong enough to cause problems in sensitive skin.

Once iodine enters the body and then the bloodstream, excess iodine is excreted through the pores. This excretion can be irritating and lead to acne formations.

During your elimination diet, you can look for the presence of acne flare- ups after eating salty foods or iodized salt. This will help you decide if your intake of iodine needs reducing. Please note that the recommended daily allowance for iodine is about 150 mcg.

What foods have it

Foods high in iodine:

Turkey, asparagus, beef liver, kelp, seaweed, iodized salt, chips with sea salt,

broccoli and cauliflower.

Foods low in iodine

Beans, chicken, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, corn, oats, bread and crab.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

How they can help reduce the presence of acne

It may appear odd that certain fats can help prevent the presence of acne but many studies have found this to be true. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that not all fats are created equal.

For instance, saturated and trans fatty acids are considered to be harmful to the health. These fats tend to promote inflammation in the body and cause the skin to be oilier.

Peanut butter has a type of fat that may promote the onset of acne, but experiment for yourself to see if this statement applies to you. If peanut butter increases your acne flare- ups, try replacing it with almond butter.

Along the same lines, Dr. Andrew Rubman, N.D., a naturopathic physician and founder of the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicine in Connecticut, has a similar take on saturated and hydrogenated fats.

According the Dr. Rubman, when the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. colon and small intestines) is overloaded with these types of fats and other pro-inflammatory substances like sugar, coffee and alcohol, it seeks out other sources to help it eliminate these toxins from the body. Hence, the gastrointestinal tract elects the skin and the result is acne.

Fortunately for us, Dr. Rubman believes that essential fatty acids like the ones found in cold water fish, nuts and seeds can help cool down the gastrointestinal tract. These essential fats can then help the gastrointestinal tract eliminate the pro- inflammatory substances so that they are not directed to the skin where they can trigger acne.

Moreover, Dr. Rubman has supplemented his female patients dealing with premenstrual acne with essential fatty acids and witnessed remarkable success. He noted their skin radiated with new health; their hair and nails were stronger, their sleep improved, and their libidos rose to new levels.

The body requires essential fatty acids (EFAs) for several biological functions, which include the manufacture of hormones and hormonelike chemicals called prostaglandins.

We should consume the essential fatty acids omega-3 -which is also called vitamin F2- and omega-6 regularly in our diet. These fats help protect the body from hormonal imbalances; dry skin and hair; immune deficiencies and weakness in brain function.

For instance, one study points to a particular EFA shortage in the development of acne. A report released in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, states that acne sufferers have been found to have a deficiency of linoleic acid in their skin.

Experts reason that the deficiency may be due to an overload of hydrogenated fat in the diet. During the tests, animals were provided with a diet containing 10 percent of the calories from hydrogenated fat, the same amount found in the typical American diet. In the end, the animals developed a deficiency of linoleic acid.

Patrick Quillin, Ph.D., R.D. and author of Healing Nutrients, deduces that the increase in the number of acne sufferers is due to the fact that sixty percent of all fats consumed in the USA are hydrogenated.

The excess of hydrogenated fats, according to Dr. Quillin, seems to create a deficiency of essential fatty acids. Thus we have an abundance of persons with acne.

There is no reason to be concerned with gaining weight while consuming essential fatty acids. In fact, enjoying essential fatty acids in the correct proportions can help reduce weight gain.

Omega-3 fats raise the metabolic rate so that the body can burn calories more readily and help the kidneys flush out excess water from our tissues.

Julia M. Ross, M.A., author of The Diet Cure, suggests getting one-third of you essential fatty acid calories from omega-3 fats while the other two-thirds come form omega-6. Combined, omega-3 and omega-6 should comprise 4 to 8 percent of your total daily caloric intake. This ratio is important because too much omega-6 in relation to omega-3 can promote fat cravings.

The Western diet typically includes a much lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids, with an excess of pro-inflammatory omega-6 and trans fattyacids.

Alan C. Logan, ND, FRSH, a contributor to the Archives of Dermatology writes that the current ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet reaches 20:1, while through evolution and in a traditional hunter-gatherer diet it is closer to 1:1. Here again, the importance of the proper omega –3 to omega-6 ratio is crucial.

What foods have it


Dark green leafy vegetables such as chard, kale, spinach, arugula, collard, mustard greens and dandelion. walnuts and Brazil nuts (these nuts contain balanced amounts of omega-3 and omega-6).

Omega-6 and Omega-3

Cold-water fish, flax oil, hemp oil, olive oil and grape seed oil. You can try making salads with these oils to get your required doses of EFAs.