Nutritional therapy holds that some foods may trigger the overproduction of oils in the skin and should, therefore, be avoided. Topping the list are refined carbohydrates (sugars) and foods loaded with saturated fat. Yes, that includes chocolate. Milk's fat and hormone content can also be a problem for some people. You should also avoid foods high in iodine, such as seafood and iodized salt. A diet of whole grains, raw or steamed vegetables, fruits, and beans promotes healthier skin.
A mineral or vitamin deficiency could also be putting the body in a weakened state, leaving it unable to fight off the factors, such as stress, that lead to acne flare-ups. But vitamin supplementation in acne treatment is not usually used to combat a deficiency. Rather, single nutrients are used for their therapeutic effect, such as their effect on hormone levels.
Supplements that are commonly prescribed to people with acne or who are prone to acne include:
- vitamin A (usually in doses that require a doctor's supervision because of vitamin A's potential for serious toxicity)
- vitamin B6 (especially in cases of premenstrual acne)
- vitamin E
Several studies conducted in the United States and Europe have reported a zinc deficiency in people who have acne and other skin disorders. In one French trial, acne patients were given daily doses of either elemental zinc or a placebo. After two months, those who took the zinc had significantly fewer and significantly less severe pimples and cysts. Zinc is thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which would reduce the skin's reaction.
Whenever zinc supplementation is prescribed for an extended period, copper supplementation is also necessary because the two minerals compete in the body for absorption; when there is an abundance of zinc, the copper is less likely to be absorbed. Zinc used alone can cause a copper deficiency.
Getting your body's requirement of zinc from whole foods rather than supplements is a good idea. A few of the foods rich in zinc are:
- dried beans
- wheat germ