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St. Louis Dermatology Advice: Which vitamins are good for acne?

Updated: May 25, 2023

Our St. Louis skin specialists at Mid-County Dermatology located at Missouri Baptist Medical Center understand the frustration and discomfort that acne can cause. While there are numerous over-the-counter and prescription treatments available, we believe in exploring the potential benefits of vitamins in the treatment and prevention of acne.



A woman looking at her acne papules in the mirror
Vitamins for Acne St. Louis


The Role of Zinc in Acne Management

Zinc, an essential mineral, plays a crucial role in various cellular functions, including immune system functioning, protein and DNA synthesis, wound healing, cell division, and enzyme activity. Studies have suggested that individuals with acne often exhibit lower levels of zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E in their blood compared to those without acne.


In a 2013 study, researchers discovered that zinc has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may contribute to reducing acne. Furthermore, zinc has been shown to regulate oil production on the skin, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with oily skin prone to acne. Including zinc in your diet is relatively easy, as it can be found in various foods such as seafood (oysters, crab, and lobster), red meat, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. Additionally, zinc supplements are available for those who prefer a convenient option.


Vitamin A in Acne Management

Vitamin A, a group of chemicals known as retinoids, plays a vital role in immune system functioning, vision, reproduction, communication between cells, and the proper functioning of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Research has revealed that vitamin A may counteract the effects of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria known to contribute to the development of acne.


In a 2014 study, scientists found that vitamin A disrupts some of the effects of P. acnes bacteria on skin cells. Although further research is needed to fully understand the extent of these effects and the optimal use of vitamin A in acne treatment, incorporating foods rich in vitamin A into your diet can be beneficial. These foods include beef liver, certain types of fish (herring, salmon, and tuna), green vegetables (spinach and broccoli), orange and yellow vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, and squash), fruits (cantaloupe, apricot, and mango), dairy products, and fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin A supplements are also widely available for those seeking an additional source.


Vitamin D: A Potential Ally in Acne Care

Vitamin D is essential for the body's calcium absorption and bone health. It also plays a crucial role in nerve cell communication and the body's immune response against germs. Recent studies have shown that individuals with acne tend to have lower levels of vitamin D compared to those without the condition. Additionally, vitamin D has been found to inhibit the impact of P. acnes bacteria on skin cells, further highlighting its potential role in acne prevention and treatment.


While the body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, certain foods can also provide this essential nutrient. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, beef liver, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified foods like milk, fruit juices, and breakfast cereals are all excellent sources of vitamin D. If dietary sources are insufficient, vitamin D supplements can be easily obtained from health food stores and pharmacies, as well as online retailers.


If you are concerned with acne, reach out to us at 314-994-0200 and let our St. Louis dermatology team take care of you.

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