In Naturopathic medicine, the belief is that acne is caused by imbalances within the body. These imbalances can be mental, physical or spiritual. Physical imbalances include toxicity of the blood and lymph nodes and deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals. Due to the inadequate American diet, the limited amount of exercise and sleep, and the extensive amount of stress that we deal with on a daily basis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies have become more and more prevalent in today’s society. Therefore the best acne treatment would be supplementation of adequate vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are essential for the health of skin, hormone balance, and a strong immune system. The vitamins and minerals that impact acne are vitamins A, B, C, E and zinc, and chromium. They not only influence the occurrence, and reoccurrence of acne but also the amount of acne that can appear on the skin. By adding these vitamins and minerals into your diet, you can eliminate acne from your skin and can have a healthy and radiant complexion.
Vitamin A is one of the essential fat-soluble vitamins that the body needs. Vitamin A has several functions in the body such as aiding hormone production, maintaining mucous membranes of the respiratory, urinary and digestive tracts, stimulates cell growth of skin, teeth and bones and improves immune system function. Vitamin A has been known to treat acne by reducing sebum and keratin production. It also treats other skin disorders, reduces age spots, and eliminates fine lines. This vitamin can be applied topically to the skin or take as a supplement. Food sources that include vitamin A are apricots, asparagus, beet greens, carrots, pumpkins, watermelon, cantaloupe, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, mangoes, tomatoes, citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. In addition the herbs alfalfa, borage, burdock root, cayenne, and chickweed also contain vitamin A. A dose of 10,000 IU daily can help maintain healthy skin although acne treatments recommend very large doses such as 100,000- 300,000 IU. However, taking large doses of vitamin A can cause headaches, fatigue and muscle pain therefore speak to your doctor before taking a larger dosage of vitamin A.
The groups of B vitamins are important for healthy skin tone. However, the B vitamins have several functions throughout the body and most often than not you can be deficient in one and not the others or in all of them. The B vitamins are vital to the function of our metabolism, maintaining healthy skin and muscle, enhance immune and nervous system function, and promote cell growth and division. Therefore vitamin B deficiencies can lead to fatigue, depression, anxiety, weakness, disease and stress. Inflammation of the skin is one of the signs of a vitamin B6 deficiency. Because the B vitamins are water-soluble it is important to regularly replenish them throughout the body. To treat acne and skin conditions it is recommended to take vitamin B3 100 mg, three times a day, vitamin B6 50 mg three times a day, and vitamin B5 50 mg three times a day. However, it is more effective to take a vitamin B complex rather than take vitamin B’s individual to reduce the risk of a deficiency in any of the B vitamins. Vitamin B can also be found in turkey, tuna, liver, meat products, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh, beans, nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast and molasses.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is an antioxidant. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and helps to heal skin problems. Not only does vitamin C repair damaged skin cells but also it helps new tissue growth. It also protects against infection and boosts the immune system. It acts as antihistamine and an antibacterial as well. Vitamin C is essential to healing acne and skin tissue as well as preventing it from reoccurring. Vitamin C is highly prevalent in citrus fruits as well as many vegetables. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 3000-5000 mg a day.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is an antioxidant as well. Vitamin E is essential for healthy, clear skin. It protects cell membranes from the damage by inhibiting the oxidation of fat. Vitamin E also speeds of the healing process of acne and acne scarring. Vitamin E is also essential for the absorption of vitamin A. The recommended daily amount of Vitamin E is 400 IU. Dietary sources of vitamin E include seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, blue crab, rockfish, mangoes, asparagus, broccoli, and papayas.
Zinc is one mineral that is effective in treating acne. Acne is actually one of the signs of a zinc deficiency. Zinc has many functions throughout the body, which can help to support healthy skin and control acne and acne breakouts. Zinc maintains hormone balance through out the body, which can be one of the causes of acne. As well as normalizing oil production in the skin. Zinc acts as an antibacterial, which kills off acne causing bacteria. Zinc strengthens the immune system, speeds up the healing process by aiding in tissue regeneration, prevents scarring, protects against UV radiation, and decreases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Zinc can be found in egg yolks, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, soybeans, legumes, whole grains, fish, soy lecithin and in the herbs such as eyebright, milk thistle, chamomile, dandelion, cayenne, mullein, burdock root, alfalfa and nettle. The recommended amount of zinc is 30 – 50 mg a day.
Chromium is a mineral that is essential for maintaining blood sugar levels in the body. Due to the high amounts of sugar consumed in today’s diet more and more chromium is needed to reduce blood sugar. A high blood sugar can lead to disease, infection and inflammation in the body, not to mention obesity. Chromium not only reduces blood sugar levels but it reduces infections in the body and the skin. Because it is hard to get enough chromium through our diet it is necessary to take a supplementation called chromium picolinate. It is recommended to take 150 mg a day of chromium. Dietary sources of chromium include corn on the cob, onions, romaine lettuce, oysters, liver, whole grains, bran cereals, potatoes, sweet potato, apples, organic eggs, tomato, broccoli, brewer’s yeast and molasses. However, chromium is found in only minimal amounts and is usually heated away through the cooking process.
Sarah Labdar, “Vitamins that Treat Acne”, Everyday Health