Can Supplements Cause Acne? What You Need to Know.

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Supplements are commonly used to help clear acne. But can supplements cause acne?

We avoid plenty of things in order to maintain good health: cigarettes, fried foods, high fructose corn syrup, etc. But what about the things that are supposed to be good for us? When it comes to vitamins and minerals, people tend to think things like, “It’s a vitamin – it’s healthy, how could it do me any harm?

I’m not saying you need to be scared of vitamins or minerals by any means, but it’s important to know why you’re taking a supplement and whether or not that supplement is actually a good fit for your body’s needs.

If you are struggling with acne, these are some things to be aware of when it comes to supplements.

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Can supplements cause acne?

Before you make another trip to the health food store, read this.

1. Fillers and Additives

The health and wellness industry has become a beast of its own, with many companies caring more about driving revenue than promoting health.

Enter additives and fillers.

These are typically chemicals added to products to make them taste better, look better, to preserve or stabilize the product or to cut costs. Essentially, most of them are not added with health in mind, but instead, money.

Can supplements cause acne: Fillers, additives and your liver.

Your liver is amazing. It carries out over 300 functions and is constantly working for you. However, some things can be difficult for the liver to process including, yup, you guessed it – additives and fillers. This slows down the liver, which can lead to the accumulation of toxins and hormones that would normally be processed easily. As a result, hormonal imbalances and inflammation can occur and lead to acne.

2. Biotin

An important thing to understand when it comes to supplements is that nutrients in the body (like vitamins and minerals) interact with each other. So when we take supplements, there are often more widespread effects than the one result we are hoping to achieve.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to biotin and acne.

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, may interfere with the way that vitamin b5 (pantothenic acid) is absorbed. The theory on biotin and acne is that because the two vitamins are absorbed via the same pathway, an influx of biotin via supplementation may lead to a relative deficiency of vitamin b5.

Because vitamin B5 has some vital roles in skin health like reducing sebum production, some theorize that a deficiency may contribute to acne.

There is limited research on whether or not biotin can contribute to acne, but this is a very common one I see in my practice.

3. Algae

Algae has been becoming a bit of a buzzy supplement in recent years, and it packs in a ton incredible nutrients, but can it contribute to acne?

It might! Algae supplements contain iodine, a mineral that can actually make acne worse if you are already consuming enough iodine. Iodine deficiency was common in the past due to food shortages during times of war and in third world countries, hence why we have added iodine to our table salt. Without enough iodine, we can experience thyroid issues, but also with too much iodine, we can also experience thyroid issues. So supplementing with high amounts of iodine (through algae), could potentially trigger issues. I suggest being cautious of your iodine intake unless recommended by a practitioner.

One study noted,  “Acne that occurs after ingestion of foods rich in iodine appears suddenly and is characterized by many papules.”

Examples of algae-based supplements include:

  • spirulina
  • chlorella
  • brown and red algae like kelp

4. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a very important nutrient. It is required to build red blood cells and supports the function of the nervous system and energy levels. Important stuff! B12 supplements are common, especially with people who follow a plant based diet. But it’s important to know how to use them.

Many researchers have noted the finding that supplemental B12 leads to acne. One study found that supplemental B12 increased the production of something called porphyrins – which increase inflammation in acne.

The takeaway: Only take a vitamin B12 supplement if you are deficient or if guided by a practitioner. Otherwise, the excess of B12 may lead to acne!

What supplements should I take for acne?

The Acne Protocol has extensive information on choosing supplements to support clear skin. Complete with my specific product recommendations I use in my practice! If you’re ready to clear your acne, click HERE.

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