I’m going to be honest here, you’re probably going to be ultra disappointed with this blog post. If you’re expecting to discover some miracle acne supplement that’s going to cure your acne in a week then I’m afraid I’m going to let you down big time…
In this blog post, I’m talking about the BASIC five supplements you needs to start taking today in order to clear your acne. These supplements are all widely known and very common, there are no secret herbs being revealed here! You might be thinking of closing this window right now and looking elsewhere for supplement advice…I mean, you’ve already tried EVERYTHING to heal your acne naturally right?! What difference will a few everyday nutrients make?!
A big difference, that’s what!
The five best supplements for acne
Going back to basics and supplementing with the nutrients that are going heal your body and skin long term is the number one thing EVERYONE with acne should do, yet 99% of people will overlook and continue to search for some elusive miracle cure instead. I know for a fact that pretty much all of us overlook the basic nutrients our body needs to thrive and jump straight into the heavy hitters! Hey! I’m not judging, I was exactly the same! I dived head first into two of the most famous ‘miracle acne supplements’ when I first started healing my skin naturally. The first set of acne supplements I purchased were EstroBlock, a liver support and Vitex and despite taking them both for a year along with a ‘healthy’ diet, I saw very little improvement to my acne…and a big dent in my bank balance!
The following year involved trying more supplements such as Inositol, Berberine, Lysine, Reishi, Saw Palmetto and mega-dosing on vitamin B5…again, I didn’t see any dramatic results from these either! I also experimented with isolated Zinc, vitamin C, B-Complex, vitamin D, Magnesium and probiotics which did help a little, but I just found it so hard to stay consistent with SO many different supplements, plus – it was so expensive! Through all my years of experimenting and FINALLY learning through trial and error what is truely needed to clear acne naturally, I have learnt that there are five basic supplements for acne that we should ALL be taking to get our skin health back on track. Remember, a ‘supplement’ is just that…something to SUPPLEMENT an already optimal diet and lifestyle NOT to fill in the gaps of a poor diet and lifestyle. Most clients come to me taking a tonne of different supplements but their diet is far from optimal! Your diet and lifestyle are your foundation to clear skin, if you haven’t cracked that, then no supplement will work it’s magic on you.
Here are my five best supplements for acne to help heal your skin naturally:
Acne Supplement #1: Multi-Vitamin
Hormonal acne is often linked to nutrient deficiencies so it’s vital that you make sure you’re not missing anything out. In an ideal world, we would be getting enough nutrients from the food we eat – however in today’s society, due to stress levels, restrictive dieting, the contraceptive pill and soil depletion, we’re just NOT getting enough nutrients from food! Key nutrients that can be so important for healing acne are Zinc, Selenium, Chromium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iodine to name a few – a good quality multi vitamin will help you cover ALL these bases. There are only two multi-vitamins that I think offer the right amount of nutrients, in the right quanity to help heal acne naturally, these are: Life Extension Two per Day and Thorne Basic Nutrients. Here are some of the key nutrients you get from taking just these multi-vitamins.
IODINE: It’s widely known that low functioning thyroid can cause acne – this is because it messes up progesterone which can impact on cortisol and androgens – all of which can lead to breakouts! But why are so many of us struggling with our thyroid? The likely answer is because we’re exposed to way too much fluoride! Did you know between 1920 and 1950, doctors in Europe were using fluoride to LOWER thyroid activity in patients with an overactive thyroid? Your thyroid NEEDS iodine. Without enough iodine, your thyroid literally cannot function. Your thyroid is basically the king of your hormone system and if your thyroid isn’t functioning properly – then your entire endocrine system will be out of whack! Fluoride isn’t just in toothpaste and drinking water, it can be found in lots of common foods like grapes, tea, cocoa, juice, beer and wine (from pesticides and absorbed through the soil) and also household items like non-stick Teflon cookware. Most people don’t need to go to extreme lengths to adjust your iodine levels/fluoride levels unless you’re living in an area where fluoride is added to the water supply. Worryingly, this is more common that you think! Many parts of Canada, USA and most of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chile, and Brazil all artificially fluoridate their water supply.
VITAMIN D: Vitamin D plays a key role in healing and preventing acne by cooling inflammation, smoothing the skin, improving mood, boosting your immune system and helping to control insulin response, yet so many people just aren’t getting enough vitamin D each day! Studies into vitamin D deficiency have shown that more than half the population of the UK are deficient in vitamin D with 16% suffering severe deficiency during the darker winter months so it’s really important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D all year round – not just during the summer months. As you’ll read later on, vitamin D is also really important for making sure your can utilise vitamin A properly!
ZINC: Zinc is one of the most widely studies supplements for acne of all time. Study after study has concluded that treating zinc deficiency can also treat acne. In one study, scientists analysed the bloodstream of 94 acne patients and 56 control patients. They discovered that zinc deficiency was far higher among the acne patients. Zinc is vital for wound healing, inflammation control, metabolism of testosterone and vitamin A function, so it plays an vital role in hormone management and acne. However, as will all supplements, not all forms of Zinc are created equal and you should look out for a multi-vitamin with the most effective and absorbable forms: Orotate or Picolinate.
CHROMIUM: Additional Chromium can help improve blood sugar balance and studies have also shown that Chromium can also improve glycemic in women with insulin resistant PCOS.
MAGNESIUM: Magnesium plays a vital role in over 300 enzyme reactions throughout our body, including helping to maintain a healthy hormonal balance! As well as balancing blood sugar imbalances and hormones, supplementing with magnesium can be a really effective way to combat digestive issues such as constipation and reflux as well as stress, sleep issues, anxiety, fatigue and ALL period problems – all of which can be linked to acne. While many multi-vitamins contain some Magnesium, if you’re struggling with period or digestive issues you will want to consider adding in an extra Magnesium supplement like Magnesium Citrate (for constipation) or Magnesium Glycinate (for period or hormonal issues).
Acne Supplement #2: Omega-3
Getting your omega-3 fatty acids in fish or algae (vegan) oil can give you almost instant results as it helps to decrease inflammation. In fact, for those who have moderate to severe acne, fish oil could help calm the skin in just a couple of weeks. As this research suggests, getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from fish or flax oil can improve skin if you’re struggling with consistent moderate to severe acne, but if your acne is just mild (you get the occasional spot once a month), then an additional omega-3 supplements probably won’t do much for your skin and you’ll see better results from just eating fish regularly and reducing your omega-6 and 9 intake (vegetable/canola oils, excess nuts etc). A lot of my clients say they don’t like eating fish because they have heard there are a lot of toxins found in fish these days. However, one of my favourite health advocates Chris Kresser hits the nail on the head and explains in this post why eating fish is far safer for your health long term than not eating it at all!
If you’re on a budget: Eat oily omega-3 rich fish like salmon, herring or sardines at least three times a week and reduce your intake of inflammatory omega 6 and 9!
Acne Supplement #3: Probiotics
Both antibiotics AND the long-term use of the contraceptive pill destroy your gut flora so introducing probiotics and/or a daily dose of fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi is a great way to help your gut and skin recover from the use of those medications. However, they are not created equal, and many probiotics supplements are a waste of money (I recommend Elixir, Primal Probiotics (UK), Natren (UK/EU), Udo’s Choice, OptiBac, BioKult and Garden of Life).
If you’re on a budget: Eat plenty of fermented foods on a daily basis! They are amazing sources of really sturdy probiotics to replenish the good bacteria in your gut. You can make it yourself, buy it online or most health foods shops have started stocking them.
Acne Supplement #4: Vitamin A
True vitamin A, aka Retinol (NOT beta carotene found in sweet potatoes and carrots), is undoubtably THE most important nutrient for healing acne. Vitamin A fights acne by preventing dead skin cells from clogging pores, reducing oil production, suppressing androgen production AND protecting fats from oxidising (oxidised fats cause serious inflammation). Plus, modern day diets mean barely ANY of us are getting enough – our ancestors would have eaten animal liver on a regular basis! Not only does this nutrient have incredible benefits on the skin, it also repairs the inflamed lining of the gut and is great for your thyroid health which also promotes clearer, healthier skin in the long run too. Ideally, you want to be getting your vitamin A from true animal sources like animal liver (beef liver contains the highest amount of vitamin A) but I’m gonna be real with you guys, it’s hard! I tried eating beef liver twice a week and I just couldn’t stomach it so I switched to Cod Liver Oil and Grass-Fed Liver Capsules instead…but this started to get expensive as for best results you want to be getting 10,000iu of vitamin A a day combined with at least 4,000iu of vitamin D a day… so I started mixing it up with a high quality synthetic vitamin A supplement so I could get what I needed each day to see proper results with my acne healing.
If you’re on a budget: If you can’t afford a vitamin A supplement then the only other option is to eat beef liver twice a week! You can buy organic and grass-fed beef liver at an extremely affordable price. Beef liver is the most nutrient dense food there is, it’s not only rich in vitamin A, but also contains plenty of B-vitamins, zinc, iron, vitamin D, K2 and so much more! I recommend checking out Pinterest for some creative ways to cook with beef liver.
Acne Supplement #5: Digestive Enzymes
Unfortunately, years of stress, low fat/low protein diets and medication have left us unable to produce sufficient bile and enzymes to digest our food properly. This nutrient malabsorption then triggers more complicated issues like liver congestion and hormone imbalance. Low stomach acid and lack of bile are much more common in acne sufferers than you make think so taking a high quality digestive supplement can make a huge difference to the speed that your acne heals. The best ingredients to look out for in a digestive support are Ox Bile, Hydrochloric Acid, Pepsin or Pancrealipase – particularly Ox Bile as it improves your own ability to produce good quality bile so you can digest food better in the long-run. A digestive supplement should be taken 5 minutes before meals for 3 months then take a break for a couple of months as your body should be able to maintain optimal digestion.
If you’re on a budget: While the best results will come from a supplement containing Ox Bile, you can make a start on increasing you stomach acid levels and digestive enzyme levels by drinking 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in 1/2 cup of warm water before every meal. You can also further improve enzyme levels by eating sauerkraut or kimchi at the beginning of your meal!
These are the first five acne supplements everyone should take at the beginning of their healing journey. These are the supplements that will actually heal your body and allow you to maintain clear skin long term. There are lots of other acne supplements out there which can be very effective and often have rave reviews from other bloggers and YouTubers, but many people will find that they struggle to come off said supplements as their acne often comes back. Other popular supplements for acne include:
- DIM / EstroBlock
- Vitex / Agnus Castus
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Digestive Enzymes
- Collagen Peptides
- Peony & Liquorice
- Saw Palmetto
- Mega-dosing B5/C
Now, I’m not saying that these supplement won’t help heal your acne! But, if you want to get your skin to a place where your body is functioning optimally and is able to keep your skin effortlessly clear, then I urge you to go back to the five basics and give them A MINIMUM of three months to start working. Most people will start to see improvements sooner than that, but not giving a supplement enough time to work is the biggest mistake I see people make when trying to clear acne naturally. We all want to see results immediately so if we finish our tub of omega-3s after a month and don’t miraculously have perfect skin, we give up and try something new… how many of your are guilty of doing this?!
I like to think of this batch of secondary supplements as “boosters”. They can take your skin from ‘nearly there’ to ‘wow’ and some people with more complex hormonal imbalances such as PCOS may need to take additional supplements from the list above but creating a solid foundation through diet, your basic acne supplements and stress management is your key to clear skin success!
I committed to taking these basic five supplement for six months after tonnes of failed attempts at healing my acne. But I saw such great improvement in 6 months that I continued to take them for a full year. It actually took my skin over 8 months before I stopped breaking out in cystic lumps… so don’t expect your skin to miraculously heal after one or two months…some of you have had acne for YEARS, so you can just undo all that damage in a few weeks! Be persistence and patient with your routine and you WILL see results!
What are you favourite supplements for acne? Let me know in the comments below!