Acne is a common concern among adolescents and adults alike. No one is happy about looking in the mirror and seeing pimples and blackheads on their face glaring back at them. The ideal is to see a reflective smile along with a clear complexion and healthy glow in your cheeks.
In this article we will explore various vitamins and minerals to learn how they affect the health of your skin and hopefully help you break-free from unsightly blemishes and break-out into a beautiful radiant smile.
The Holistic Approach to AcneFrom a holistic point of view all illnesses are manifestations of our imbalances. In treating acne outbreaks the holistic practitioner would typically consider all emotional, physical, mental, or even spiritual imbalances. Any treatments offered would address the whole person, not just the physical body.
For example, Louise Hay, author of The New York Times best seller self-help book You Can Heal Your Life, teaches that acne is a manifestation of not loving or accepting yourself. Louise suggests this affirmation for those with acne: I am a Divine expression of life, I love and accept myself where I am right now..
Some holistic practitioners also cite poor diets and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals as factors that upset the natural internal workings of physical organs and disturb optimal blood circulation. In Ayurvedic medicine, acne (known clinically as Yauvan Pidika) is believed to be an internal constitutional disorder of the body and is caused primarily by improper diet, impurities in the blood, and imbalances in Kapha and Vata. However, there is virtually no scientific evidence linking diet to acne, and dermatologists dismiss such claims."
Vitamin Treatments for Acne
Healthy and radiant skin requires proper nutrition. However, according to a 2007 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39.5 percent of Americans eat less than the recommended three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can affect the body's ability to function optimally. Vitamins and minerals can be taken to supplement our diets when our nutritional needs are lacking through food consumption alone.
However, multivitamins should not be taken as a substitute for eating healthy foods. Taking too much of any vitamin or mineral can be toxic and extremely dangerous. Please consult with a doctor or other trained healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements.
Vitamin A - Retinoids, derivatives of vitamin A, are used to treat acne and other skin disorders. Retinoids are prescribed by dermatologists both topically and orally. A common type of retinoid used in the oral treatment of acne is isotretinoin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, chromium, zinc, and selenium are nutrients that may have both anti-acne and mood regulating properties according to an acne study conducted at the Lasky Skin Clinic in 2008.
- Zinc - The National Library of Science recognizes that zinc may be effective in the treatment of acne based on available science evidence. The Department of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York also recognizes zinc, along with vitamin A, and tea tree oil (also ayurvedic therapies) as over-the-counter remedies available for treating acne. However, its position on these remedies is that additional and better studies are needed to clarify the benefits.
Essential Vitamins for Skin Care in General
Vitamin A - According to Dr. Eugene S. Bereston "the therapeutic use of Vitamin A began almost with the discovery of the vitamin." Bereston also noted that the first property of vitamin A is its ability to stimulate growth. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that vitamin A is vital to the health of both your skin and your eyes. The academy recommends a daily dose of vitamin A. Examples of vitamin A enriched foods include citrus fruits, carrots, tomatoes, yellow squash, and pumpkin. Vitamin A can also be applied to the skin topically with creams to promote cell growth.
Vitamin B - The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health states that inflammation of the skin is one sign of B6 deficiency. Clinical signs of vitamin B6 deficiency are rarely seen in the United States. Alcoholics and aging adults are at the highest risk for B6 deficiencies due to poor dietary habits.
Vitamins C and E - The American Academy of Dermatology recommends daily oral dosages of vitamins C and E to protect the body and for its antioxidant properties that are important for healthy skin.
- Zinc - A study conducted at Duke University provides evidence that Zinc is an important antioxidant supporting healthy skin. Among the findings: "Zinc protects against UV radiation, enhances wound healing, contributes to immune and neuropsychiatric functions, and decreases the relative risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease." So, in addition to the antioxidant benefits zinc offers to our skin, zinc is also important for the proper functioning of the immune system.
CDC: apps.nccd.cdc.gov/5ADaySurveillance, www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/qa/index.html
Rubin MG, Kim K, Logan AC, Lasky Skin Clinic - Acne vulgaris, mental health and omega-3 fatty acids: a report of cases. 1: Lipids Health Dis., 2008 Oct 13;7:36. (PMID: 18851733)
Bowe WP, Shalita AR., Department of Dermatology, SUNU Downstate Medical Center, Effective over-the-counter acne treatments.1: Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2008 Sep;27(3):170-6. (PMID: 18786494)
Eugene S. Bereston, M.D., Vitamins in Dermatology
American Academy of Dermatology
The National Library of Science, MedlinePlus, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-zinc.html
National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements
Rostan EF, DeBuys HV, Madey DL, Pinnell SR., Duke University, Evidence supporting zinc as an important antioxidant for skin., Int J Dermatol. 2002 Sep;41(9):606-11 (PMID: 12358835)
Marahishi Ayurveda www.mapi.com/ayurveda_health_care/ask/adultacne.html
Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life, Hay House Inc.