There are over 32 nutrients in the human body which are considered absolutely essential for human health. This group includes all the classic nutrients you know and love, plus a great deal more which most people are unfamiliar with: that means calcium, iron, B-vitamins, but also more unknown nutrients like chromium.
Because acne massively reflects the health of your entire body, every single one of those 32 minerals and vitamins can cause some improvement in your skin. However, there are seven acne nutrients that rise above them all to become vitamins and minerals that you don’t want to miss out on…
If you had no chance of getting every acne nutrient you need, and could only focus on seven, these are the ones which would improve your acne the most.
Objective – to end clogged pores and defend skin cells.
Also known as tocopherol, or alpha-tocopherol, vitamin E truly is the king of kings when it comes to acne vitamins. Obtaining at least the daily allowance of 22IU will prevent your acne from becoming absolutely monstrous. Eating significantly more than that will allow your face to be oily without actually having acne.
How can this be? The answer is that the problem with high sebum production is not that it directly blocks your pores, not entirely anyway, but that the sebum typically oxidises to a greater extent. When sebum oxidises due to free radical attack, it forms squalene peroxide, one of the most comedogenic (pore-blocking) substances in the world.
That’s the real cause of blocked pores and p.acnes overgrowth and your body has a very specific system to keep that from happening; it uses built-in antioxidants to keep your sebum strong. The antioxidant it uses by far the most is good old vitamin E. Having a face like one of BP’s ocean oil rigs is never a good thing, but if you have enough vitamin E then it is far less likely that the sebum will cause acne.
The reason why acne patients need it? Scientists in this study found that acne patients have an average of 10% less vitamin E in their bloodstream. Tons of other studies all find one thing: the less vitamin E you consume, the worse your acne will be.
This means three things: 1) you need to try and get plenty of vitamin E from acne friendly foods like green vegetables, fish, chocolate and in particular, nuts. The king of all vitamin E sources is the almond and a handful a day can provide enough vitamin E to give your acne a noticeable reduction.
Secondly, it is well worth taking a supplement for vitamin E that takes you far beyond 22IU. Dr Evan Shute is a scientist who has devoted his entire career to studying vitamin E and he argues that both men and women can benefit hugely by taking up to 600IU per day. Studies back this up as they rarely show adverse health effects from high doses, at least not from natural forms of the vitamin.
Finally, almost all standard synthetic vitamin E supplements contain one isolated form, alpha-tocopherol. That’s bad news both for health and our skin. In my eBook Annihilate Your Acne there’s a section on how vitamin E has eight different forms that are found in nature. For the biggest acne benefits, you need all eight tocopherols and tocotrienols in the natural ratios found in food…
…and what you need for clearing acne is therefore a supplement that is both expertly made and comes from food sources. Being made from food gives you every type of natural vitamin E, and a guarantee that the vitamin will be better absorbed than lab versions.
Out of all the supplements on the market, one that will improve your acne the most is this Dr Mercola Vitamin E.
Meanwhile, Solgar Vitamin E 400 IU is great for a pure, no-nonsense supplement for a fraction of the price of the one above.
Objective – to calm down existing pimples and shut down the birth of new ones.
Known as the acne master mineral because out of all the acne-clearing nutrients we are discussing here, zinc is the one that is most firmly backed up by scientific studies directly on acne.
Zinc is very similar to vitamin E in that a big proportion of the population are severely deficient in it, and that is impacting the world’s skin in a big way…
The big claim-to-fame of zinc is that it can work miracles on your immune system. It can prevent an overactive immune system from releasing too many inflammatory chemicals behind acne and it can jumpstart one that isn’t performing properly.
That makes it vital for healthy skin because acne is basically a result of excessive inflammatory chemicals. Your immune system attacks the p.acnes bacteria lodged in your pores and if too many chemicals are released, your skin pores will become swollen, reddened and “acnefied” by the onslaught.
Almost every acne patient faces this scenario and that’s why zinc is so excellent. Consider the fact that a good chunk of the Western population is deficient and there’s a good chance that more zinc is exactly what you need. You can get to the daily allowance of zinc through foods but in this case I believe it is simplest to take a supplement – otherwise you would have to eat loads of obscure foods like oysters.
If you do then it’s vital that you take the right variety of zinc, since zinc has the most forms of almost any nutrient. The best absorbed forms are zinc piliconate or zinc methionine (my personal choice). Tons of people take common, ineffective versions like zinc oxide, and then give up on zinc completely when it has no effect.
Take a proper zinc supplement and according to this study, you could see a reduction in your acne of around 33%. The best news is that the study used zinc sulphate, which isn’t even one of the more effective zinc supplements.
The supplement I recommend for most people is Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate. This is a pure zinc in the effectively absorbed zinc picolinate form, which is free from any controversial additives like magnesium stearate.
A great alternative is this natural and food derived supplement from a very high quality supplement brand, MegaFood Zinc. With this you get a doubly whammy of acne benefits, because not only does the pill contain 22.5mg (150%) of raw food derived zinc, there’s also a proprietary blend of fruits and vegetables. Those plants coincidentally include some of the healthiest for acne, including broccoli, spinach and beetroot.
Objective – to massively reduce your skin’s oil output.
Best product – food. A supplement is not necessary for vitamin A.
The nemesis of the arctic explorer; plenty of them have tried to hunt polar bears, foolishly eaten the liver, and died due to it being the richest source of vitamin A in the world.
This overdose potential of vitamin A is also seen in the horrific side effects seen from the last resort acne treatment Accutane, including permanent dry eyes, destroyed sexual function, and depression.
However don’t get put off this vital acne vitamin, because at safe doses vitamin A can improve a good amount of the bodily conditions that cause acne. Its standout feature that takes it to elite status is its strong ability to reduce both the size of your sebaceous glands and the amount of sebum they produce. That means less oily skin, and inevitably less blocked pores.
Almost every single acne patient could improve their skin considerably by getting more vitamin A. Getting plenty can also mitigate some of the other acne causing problems in your body; high levels of testosterone lead to oily skin but they won’t matter as much if you consume 800ug of vitamin A per day.
It speaks for itself that Accutane, the premier acne drug in the world, is basically a massively overpowered vitamin A supplement. It can cure acne but it also causes the side effects listed above and in this article, so that tells you something important. Get plenty of vitamin A for acne but don’t go absolutely overboard.
The recommended daily allowance of 800ug is pretty accurate for health and acne. However vitamin A is still one important component of an acne plan that covers many other aspects. A supplement is not completely necessary if you can craft a well organised diet, but you can use one if you want an extra acne clearing boost (just don’t go crazy).
Objective – too many acne powers to list.
Best product – easily NatureWise Vitamin D3 (Garden Of Life for UK readers).
The odd man out in this list, as it is hardly a vitamin at all. Vitamin D is actually a hormone that your body manufactures when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
The so called “sunshine vitamin” is vital for the highest number of different functions in your body out of these acne nutrients; you need it for combating insulin resistance, you need it to control inflammation, you need it for proper acne nutrient absorption, the list is endless.
It’s important for tons of other health aspects too; there are over 800 research papers showing that increasing blood vitamin D to 50-70ng/ml can combat cancer. The problem is that because more jobs than ever are based in dark offices and more time is spent glued to screens, roughly 40% of the US population is now vitamin D deficient.
That’s why I recommend that just about every acne patient takes a vitamin D supplement. Here in England we can only make vitamin D from the sun for 7-8 months of the year; not enough UV rays can penetrate the atmosphere in winter.
Even when the sun is strong enough, our damp atlantic-influenced climate means that we don’t get the chance to absorb the sun’s rays anyway. Therefore I take 2000IU of vitamin D every day (in the winter) and if you live in a high latitude country it’s smart for you to do the same.
I have taken a few different supplements for both my acne and health and one of the best is easily this one: NatureWise Vitamin D3. This features vitamin D3 encapsulated in extra virgin olive oil, no toxic fillers and chemicals, and a huge 360 day supply. Note that if you’re in the UK, that link will take you to the Garden Of Life brand, another pure supplement, which features a bonus prebiotic and digestive blend.
On the other hand, if you want a cheaper alternative without all the fancy prebiotic extras then you can get this bottle of Vitamin D3 Drops, which is truly excellent value for money.
It is also critical that your supplement is D3 (also called cholecalciferol), not D2 (ergocalciferol), because D2 is not properly absorbed by the body. If most of your days are spent relaxing on a beach in Jamaica then you don’t need a supplement, but most people in North America are indoors for most of the day.
Take 2000IU in the darker months, and a little less in the summer, depending on the climate of your country. Do that and it’s highly likely that you’ll be delighted with the improvement in your acne (and your skin tone as well). Read more about vitamin D here.
Objective – to strengthen the structure of your skin.
Vitamin C is generally dismissed by the acne community, but a hard look at the science tells you that it is stronger than most people know. Its first acne power is its ability to reduce the evil stress hormone, cortisol, in your bloodstream. The second is the fact that it is needed for the human body to manufacture collagen, a key structural component of your skin.
The final acne advantage is that vitamin C is absolutely vital for wound healing. Getting way more than the recommend daily allowance for vitamin C will greatly accelerate the speed at which your old acne clears up and that will make your skin much clearer overall.
That’s why in my opinion, supplementation with vitamin C is an absolute must for acne patients. The daily allowance of 60mg is pitifully low; the human body can easily withstand up to 2000mg and most likely far more.
I take at least 750mg per day, using an excellent Camu Camu Powder supplement. I wrote this article here about the amazing experience I had where it healed a four month old injury within two weeks. Lack of vitamin C is one of the key reasons why people who don’t eat fruit and vegetables have terrible skin that’s covered with acne, so eat plenty of berries, broccoli, potatoes, kale, and other acne-clearing foods that provide 50% of the allowance or more.
Vitamin C is not mentioned in many acne-clearing guides, but for the reasons above and from my excellent experience with it, I believe that it is worthy of your time and money.
For a highly concentrated vitamin C supplement which you can use on a daily basis, this Certified Organic Camu Camu Powder is perfect.
Objective – to send your antioxidants supplies through the roof.
Selenium is the second most powerful acne mineral, next to zinc, but only by a tiny fraction. Selenium has an arsenal of acne studies which is just as impressive.
Firstly, this one analysed the blood of 37 acne patients, some of whom were severe, and observed that they had far lower selenium levels compared to 37 other men. Secondly, this study found that feeding 14 acne patients a 200mcg selenium supplement led to steady drops in total pimple counts after 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 6 weeks. After 8 weeks, total acne lesions had fallen by nearly 50%.
Unlike zinc, which constrains the immune system, selenium works by being the main ingredient of glutathione. Glutathione is the human body’s most powerful homemade antioxidant. To clear acne, you have to get antioxidants through two sources: your diet, from herbs, spices, coffee, dark chocolate, and colourful fruits and vegetables, and your own body.
Your body makes many of its own antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase and catalase, but the catch is that you must supply the raw materials in the form of minerals, sulphur, and amino acids…
…and without selenium you won’t be making any glutathione at all, because it’s one of the golden trio of glutathione minerals alongside magnesium and zinc. Furthermore, 5 of the 8 forms of glutathione are seleno-proteins, meaning that their structure is based heavily around selenium. The study above where selenium reduced acne by 50% also found that daily selenium supplements led to a 201% increase in glutathione.
Selenium supplements can thus achieve the following benefits: your blood antioxidant levels will skyrocket, your free radicals will be hunted down and destroyed, your skin will become stronger, and outside sources of free radicals such as cigarette smoke and air pollution will simply bounce off it.
Selenium could erase up to half your pimples if the studies above are accurate. Remember: the best part is that the 50% reduction was an average. If your acne happens to have a severe glutathione deficiency at its root, selenium could be a miracle.
How to get it – eat Brazil nuts! These common nuts, which are plucked from the riverside Brazil nut tree native to not just Brazil but also eastern Columbia, eastern Peru, Guianas, Venezuela, and eastern Bolivia, are the richest food source of selenium by a mile.
Just two nuts weighing in at 10 grams contain 191.8mcg, which is 274% of the daily allowance. Supplement companies everywhere are probably about to launch a massive cover-up, because this study on 59 New Zealanders found that eating two Brazil nuts daily for eight weeks led to a 59% increase in blood selenium levels, which was equally as potent as a formulated supplement.
That’s one reason why selenium is such a great mineral for acne: you get enjoyment from increasing your levels. You get to eat a delicious snack rather than swallowing a massive pill. With Brazil nuts you completely bypass the need to analyse each form of the mineral. You can get the well-absorbed form of selenium found in nature, because a Brazil nut is nature.
There’s no brainpower required, just follow the method of the study above. Simply eat two nuts per day, and watch your acne vanish.
An excellent bulk product is this bag of Certified Organic Brazil Nuts. Alternatively, you could take this Pure Encapsulations Selenium, a bottle of 60 capsules in the well-absorbed selenomethionine form, which has no harsh additives to speak of.
Objective – to lower stress, increase antioxidants, and improve your sleep.
Perhaps the most neglected mineral for clear skin. The first acne-clearing power of magnesium is similar to selenium: significantly increasing your bloodstream levels of glutathione. Not only is magnesium important itself, but the mineral also makes another key ingredient of glutathione called adenosine triphosphate.
But where magnesium really shines is in its indirect powers for acne. Firstly, it’s the single most important mineral for anxiety.
Magnesium calms down and improves the efficiency of neurotransmitters behind stress, and like vitamin C, magnesium also suppresses levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. In fact, during stress, your kidneys automatically release a burst of magnesium. The result? Magnesium is amazing for stress-induced acne.
Magnesium is also miraculous for sleep deprivation. Study after study has confirmed the link, with one analysing 300 elderly people and finding a direct correlation between bloodstream magnesium levels and sleep quality. Magnesium achieves this by increasing the sleep hormone melatonin, by increasing levels of its precursor, the happiness hormone serotonin. And you know what that means? Magnesium is also amazing for your mood.
Deficiency in this mineral is rampant, estimated at 80% of Americans by one study. Why? An analysis of different berry and green vegetable species revealed huge falls in magnesium levels, ranging from 25 to 80% since 1950. This phenomenon is caused by soil depletion, but also artificial phosphorous-based fertilisers, rather than organic composts which supply a much wider range of nutrients.
That’s why compared to vitamin A, taking a magnesium supplement is absolutely vital. Which is the best brand? You have two excellent options.
Firstly, there’s this Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil. This “oil” is actually liquid magnesium chloride, a solution derived from the ancient sea of Zechstein near the Netherlands. This is a trans-dermal magnesium supplement which you spray onto the skin. It gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing digestion and becoming ultra-efficient.
I use this supplement most days, and compared to before I started using this, my sleep is miraculously calm. It’s like getting knocked out every night. I fall asleep very quickly and I rarely wake up in the middle of the night.
Your second choice, meanwhile, is this well-absorbed bottle of Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate. This supplement is free from any toxic chemicals or suspicious additives like magnesium stearate.
It’s in the well-absorbed magnesium glycinate form, rather than the feeble magnesium oxide of common grocery store pills. Furthermore, Pure Encapsulations is an amazing supplement brand, with extreme dedication to purity, testing every batch of their products for heavy metal contamination and over 30 pesticides.
Magnesium is vital for stress, sleep quality, and your supply of acne-clearing antioxidants.
Just about every nutrient will help your acne to some degree, but those seven are the ones you really need to focus on for acne. You can get the daily allowance of most of the others by eating a diet with plenty of nutritious meats, fish, vegetables and fruits, or simply by taking a multivitamin.
You could also take a multivitamin for the acne nutrients above, but in some instances taking an individual supplement is absolutely necessary. Taking zinc on its own allows you to make sure that it’s the well absorbed zinc piliconate rather than an ineffective zinc oxide buried among tons of other ingredients. You definitely need to take vitamin C on its own because a multivitamin only provides a morsel compared to what you really need for clearing acne.
Follow this advice and you’ll advance a good deal further along the road to gloriously acne-clear skin.
Thanks for reading!