Can Acne Be Caused by Vitamin Deficiencies? A Doctor Weighs In
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The are a host of reasons people experience acne. Hormonal changes, new beauty products, and even your environment can cause a flare-up. But did you know that the skin condition can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies?
“Nutrition is an often forgotten component of acne care, and there’s ongoing research about the link between vitamin deficiencies and acne,” Dusan Sajic, MD, tells POPSUGAR. “Though the relationship between nutrition and acne is complex and not fully understood, it is a field that continues to be explored. So if you are struggling with resistant acne, it may be worthwhile to consider testing for these deficiencies.”
If you’re curious about the relationship between acne and vitamin levels, Dr. Sajic explains exactly what categories of vitamins you should pay attention to, as well as other factors you should address for better overall skin health.
Can Vitamin Deficiency Cause Acne?
While causation has not yet been proven, Dr. Sajic says there have been a few studies that point to links between deficiencies in various vitamins and acne severity. “The most well-documented deficiency that leads to worsening of acne is in vitamin D,” Dr. Sajic says. “A recent study looking at all the available papers suggested that the lower your vitamin D levels, the more likely that your acne will be more severe.”
While that doesn’t exactly mean that lower vitamin D levels guarantee acne, the role that vitamin D plays in the body can result in creating the perfect condition for acne if it’s depleted. “The correlation between acne and vitamins can be due to vitamin D’s role in reducing inflammation and controlling the production of sebum, an oily substance that can contribute to acne when it builds up,” Dr. Sajic says. “Therefore, supplementing your diet with vitamin D if your levels are low can be quite beneficial for resistant acne.”
Vitamin Deficiencies That Can Be Linked to Acne
If you are struggling with resistant acne, Dr. Sajic also recommends testing for a few other deficiencies. “Vitamin A deficiency might contribute to acne, but a true vitamin A deficiency is rarely the case, and taking excess amounts can be harmful, so it’s important to get the right amount, should you have low levels,” he says. “Additionally, vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage and aids in healing, and B vitamins – niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5) – can help reduce inflammation and regulate oil production, respectively. Deficiencies in either of these could also potentially contribute to the skin condition.”
How to Tell If Acne Is Caused by Vitamin Deficiency
The best way to tell if your acne may be because of a vitamin deficiency is to go to a healthcare provider. “If someone has a well-balanced diet but still experiences persistent acne, it’s more likely that other factors such as hormones, bacteria, or genetics are at play,” Dr. Sajic says.
However, if you do find that your vitamin levels may be affecting your skin, there are some steps you can take. “It may be worthwhile to re-nourish and ‘re-nutriate’ your skin with topical ingredients and creams that have these vitamins in them,” Dr. Sajic says. “Niacinamide and vitamin A – or retinoids – in particular are great additions to your skin-care routine. Adaptogens like green tea and hydroxytyrosol can also naturally make your skin more resilient.”
Though addressing vitamin levels may provide some direction in understanding your journey with acne, it’s important to remember that they are just one part of the holistic approach that’s needed to treat the condition. Don’t start a supplement routine without first speaking to your healthcare provider. And most importantly? Be patient with the process. Acne affects thousands of people every year, and no two cases are the same, so take the time to understand and work with your skin with the guidance of a qualified professional.