The Best Vitamins for Acne for Clearer, Healthier Skin

While there's no single cause for acne, experts agree that lacking certain nutrients may play a role. These are the vitamins, minerals, and herbs that support healthy skin and may help stop those embarrassing breakouts.

Finding the causes of acne

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Keep spotting zits? Before you even think about popping them, find out which of these sneaky reasons led to the breakout. Yes, acne occurs when pores clog with oil and dead skin cells, but identifying the underlying source (hormonal imbalance, allergies, weakened immune system, etc.) of your acne is the first step to getting rid of zits for good.  A great place to start is getting the right nutrients, which is where vitamins for acne come in handy.

There are many supplements that skin experts suggest to clients based on their particular needs. "Specific amounts of these supportive nutrients vary by person, health status, medications, or other illnesses," says Julia Scalise, DN, PhD, doctor of naturology and holistic health consultant. "For this reason, it is always best to work with knowledgeable practitioners to discover the underlying causes of acne for you and use supplements that are suited to your needs in the amounts appropriate for you." Ahead are some of the best-known supplements that could lead to clearer skin. (Here's what you need to know about supplements before you begin.)

Vitamin A

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Two of the key roles vitamin A plays in your body are both incredibly beneficial for your largest organ: your skin. Not only does vitamin A protect against the sun's harmful rays, but it also helps fight infection and inflammation—and even slows down signs of aging. That's why retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is a go-to ingredient in prescribed treatments for keeping skin firm, youthful—free of acne. Several studies back up this theory, showing a reduction in acne-related skin conditions when retinol-containing serums and other skin-care products were used. The research shows that it's best to use vitamin A topically as opposed to in supplement form, especially when acne is concerned, since digesting a dose of more than 10,000 international unites (IUs) can lead to a condition known as hypervitaminosis A. Find out which acne treatments dermatologists use on themselves.

Vitamin C

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Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays a key role in collagen synthesis, or the process by which collagen is created. Collagen is a protein that's found in nearly all parts of our body, mainly our muscles, bones, blood vessels, digestive system, and skin. We tend to lose collagen as we age, which is why our skin becomes looser with less elasticity. Recently, vitamin C has emerged as an acne treatment solution instead of antibiotics. "It is well known in the medical field that vitamin C has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to safely treat various skin diseases." says Ron Choi, Global Business Manager for Vitabrid C¹². "When vitamin C is supplied directly to the skin, it promotes collagen synthesis, inhibits melanin production, and scavenges free radicals, thereby restoring and brightening damaged skin left in the wake of an acne breakout." These are the foods that cause and clear acne.

B vitamins

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The "b" in "B-complex vitamins" might as well stand for beauty, because several of them, particularly B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B6 (pyridoxine) play an overall role in physiological function, according to Dr. Scalise. B vitamins assist in enzyme activation but also have multiple functions in the body—for hormone production and balance. When it comes to your skin, B vitamins aid in reducing dryness and flakiness associated with acne, which is why they're found in plenty of topical moisturizers. However, you can also take them in supplement form. Here are some signs of a vitamin B deficiency.

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Zinc

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Whether taken orally or topically, zinc is a nutrient that can reduce acne inflammation significantly. In fact, one double-blind study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, which analyzed the differences in female patients who were using a zinc-containing lotion to clear up their skin and those who were not, found that those using the lotion experienced clearer skin. Doses higher than 30 mg, however, may be toxic, so it's important to make sure you're taking the right amount. Speak with your primary care physician or dermatologist if you're unclear of zinc's effects on your skin. Don't miss Dr. Pimple Popper's acne-fighting rules everyone should memorize.

Vitamin E

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This fat-soluble vitamin is also an antioxidant, which means it helps prevent fats from oxidizing in the body. This is especially important when it comes to your skin, as the oxidation of sebum (the oily substance that comes out of your whiteheads and blackheads when you pop them) is known to spread bacteria across your face and lead to acne. Vitamin E helps prevent this spread of bacteria, and also ensures that vitamin A functions properly on the skin. Vitamin E is a popular ingredient in skin-care products and also occurs naturally in deliciously healthy foods, like almonds, avocados, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach, and more.

Vitamin D

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This nutrient not only keeps bones strong, but also plays a vital role in skin health. Most of us get this nutrient from exposure to the sun's UV rays, so if you live in northern areas of the country that don't see much warm sunlight, especially in winter, you might be deficient in vitamin D. In fact, according to the journal Nutrition Research, nearly half of all U.S. adults are deficient in vitamin D. Another study, published in PLOS One, which analyzed vitamin D's impact on patients suffering from acne, found that those more likely to suffer from acne also suffered from a vitamin D deficiency. Make sure you know the signs of a vitamin D deficiency, and if you're running low, consider a supplement. ZSS Clear Skin Supplements contain 1,000 IUs of vitamin D, or 250 percent of your daily dose, in addition to other skin-friendly nutrients, including zinc.

Selenium

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This nutrient is known to fight against illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, but one thing it's less known for is its ability to ward off acne. In fact, one study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica, found that among people suffering from acne, those with the most severe cases also showed significantly lower levels of selenium. To give your skin a fighting chance against acne, load up on selenium-containing foods, such as Brazil nuts, Yellowfin tuna, halibut, sardines, and grass-fed beef.

Next, find out about the skin conditions that look like acne but aren't.

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