Vitamins to Heal Your Acne

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Vitamin A

What is it?

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Vitamin A is an antioxidant that belongs to the class of compounds called retinoids. The active alcohol form of vitamin A is known as retinol. Vitamin A, commonly known as Retin-A, has been prescribed for decades by dermatologists to treat acne topically. Accutane, a prescription oral medication, has been used to treat severe nodular acne by dermatologists for years as well and is also a form of vitamin A. Low levels of this vitamin have been associated with inflammation and acne. In the body, vitamin A is responsible for red blood cell production, immune system support, healthy skin, normal vision, and overall growth and development of the body. Food sources include orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cod liver oils.

Why is it of value for treating acne?

Vitamin A is essential to the normal shedding of dead skin cells that build up inside the pore and ultimately cause acne- this sticky build up and excess production of skin cells is one of the main causes of acne! Click here to read about other causes of acne, especially hormonal acne. This vitamin functions by preventing this build up that would have otherwise caused a clogged pore. In addition, the antioxidant properties of vitamin A for acne act as an anti-inflammatory for the skin and help to calm swollen, red, and sore acne breakouts.

Who should increase their Vitamin A intake?

It is highly recommended that individuals with inflammatory acne on the face and/or body should be eating foods high in vitamin A and supplementing with 10,000 iu’s of vitamin A per day. I have had great success with Clove Hill Skin Clarity. If you are pregnant, please consult a physician before starting on this vitamin for acne.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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What is it?

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and seafood, particularly oily, ocean fish such as mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. It is arguably the best anti-inflammatory found in nature.

Why is it of value for treating acne?

Inflammation is at the core of acne (externally and systemically), therefore an anti-inflammatory supplement is key to clearing acne. The inflammation process is triggered at the systemic level and then, with many other factors, causes acne at the skin level. An important side note, inflammation is also connected to nearly all chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc.

Omega-3 fish oil for acne works by inhibiting two inflammatory chemicals that are responsible for acne breakouts, they are called PGE2 and LTB4. One way to inhibit the production of these two chemicals is with the drug Accutane and the other way is, naturally, with EPA omega-3 fatty acids. To find out if you have inflammatory acne click here. EPA Omega-3 supplements and foods are the best way to put out the flame. Research shows that people consuming diets higher in omega-3 fatty acids, such as in Japan, the coastal regions of North Carolina, and Papua New Guinea all have a low rate of acne.

Who should increase their Omega-3 intake?

It is highly recommended that individuals with inflammatory acne on the face and/or body should be eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and supplementing with 2 grams (2,000 mg) of EPA omega-3s per day. I have had great success with the Clear Skin Trio (which contains Vitamin A and Omega-3’s) and the Clove Hill Fish Oil. Be sure to check your labels, as you want to have a therapeutic dose of 2,000 mg of EPA per day. This is because EPA is a better anti-inflammatory than DHA. Most Fish Oil supplements will contain more DHA than EPA so be sure to check your labels. If you are pregnant, please consult a physician before starting on fish oil supplements.

In addition to supplements, fish oil for acne such as anchovies, sardines, and mackerel as well as flax seed oil are fantastic resources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3-enriched eggs are also recommended. Soybean, peanut, sunflower, palm oil, and other vegetable oils should be strictly avoided as these will make acne worse by stimulating the PGE2 chemical that causes acne.


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What is it?

Zinc is a mineral that’s responsible for contributing to many, many functions within the body. To name a few: growth and development, brain function, reproduction, and immune function. In food, zinc is in beans, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, whole grains, lean meats, and oysters.

Why is it of value for treating acne?

Zinc has many important functions for acne clearing. One, zinc assists with the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids. Two, zinc is an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for the skin. Three, zinc helps break down substance P, the nerve chemical that causes sebum production when the body is stressed. Four, zinc is responsible for transporting Vitamin A. An antiacne nutrient, from the liver. Recent studies have shown that people with acne have low levels of zinc in their system.

Who should increase their Zinc intake?

As you can see, Zinc is an important supplement to take with Vitamin A and Omega-3 Fish Oils. Zinc for acne is highly recommended if taking either of these supplements to assist in the uptake and metabolism. It is also recommended as part of a basic supplement regimen for non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. Approximately 40 mg per day is the therapeutic dose of zinc. Check all your supplement labels as zinc is often added to a multivitamin and the Clove Hill Skin Clarity.


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What is it?

Selenium is a minor mineral as well as an antioxidant that works to protect other antioxidants. It can be found in grains, nuts, seafood salmon, and halibut.

Why is it of value for treating acne?

Selenium has been proven to work synergistically with as well as preserve the levels of other antioxidants, such as zinc. Selenium functions in glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme which is very important in preventing the inflammation of acne. This selenium-dependent enzyme that controls glutathione is low in acne patients, and low levels of blood selenium have also been documented. Small amounts of selenium and vitamin e have been shown to improve acne, particularly in those with low baseline glutathione enzyme activity. In addition, research has shown that a deficiency in selenium may play a role in inflammatory conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Who should increase their Selenium intake?

Selenium should be taken along with other antioxidants as well as zinc supplements. The Vitamedica Healthy Skin contains 48 mcg of Selenium per dose.

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About the Founder: Jessica Gremley

Jessica has been a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist and Healing Diets Coach since 2003. After struggling with acne for more than a decade, she became determined to find a way to clear acne without pharmaceuticals for herself and eventually, future clients. Today, she offers a complete acne regimen that combines proven non-comedogenic skincare products, natural supplements, lifestyle coaching, and support from trained acne specialists to achieve lifelong clear skin. She and her staff serve locally at Natural Acne Clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and nationally via NAC’s Online Acne Program.


  1. Hi there! I have extremely oily skin! I have been breaking out on the sides of my cheeks a lot and a little bumps along my jaw line. I have recently cut out milk so I hope that helps a bit but I do drink 8 glasses of water on a daily basis! Will taking omega 3, zinc, vitamin A supplements help? What would you recommend please help!

    1. Dear Veronica,
      Yes all of those will help and it is also important to make sure all the skin care you are using is non-pore clogging. If you currently have moderate to severe active acne, in my experience, it takes a program where we change what you are using every few weeks in order to get you clear. You can read more about this under How We Are Successful.

      Best Wishes to you!

    2. hello I am seeing a skin doctor so yes try to cut diary out switch to almong milk and get cage free eggs and also stay away from iodized salt switch to sea salt

  2. Hi,

    I am currently take 6 capsules of fermented cod liver fish oil daily and today I added zinc and vitamin E to my diet. I would say I have bad acne (I think we tend to judge our own faces more than others do), but I would say I have mild acne. I do have a problem with the PHI phase of acne. Because of my pale skin I do suffer from purpleish pimples that are healing, but still are that nasty color, making me self conscious. Do you think my diet change (adding the zinc and vit E) will help these heal quicker? Any other suggestions?
    Note: I have only been taking the cod liver fish oil for ~12 days.
    Thanks and happy holidays.

    1. Hello M,
      Thank you for your message! While Cod Liver is high in Vitamin A (which is great for acne), I do not recommend it in this form because is high in iodine, which is one of the main triggers of acne. I have had great success with Vitamedica’s Healthy Skin which is very high in vitamin a and also contains zinc and selenium. While all these vitamins are helpful you also have to treat the skin topically with a non-pore clogging skincare regimen. This is what we provide coaching on, should you need any guidance.


  3. hi! my face is currently breakout due to my previous skin routine which consist of mercury. i got so many tiny bumps on my forehead and later on they all turn into acne. now i hv hideous forehead with so many acne and scars. can you please suggest what can be done 🙁

    1. Hi Kayla,
      It sounds like you primarily have non-inflamed acne which requires lots of exfoliation. Try a non-pore clogging scrub, AHA serum, Vitamin A serum and chemical peels from an esthetician in your area. If you need more help please contact me!


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