For a number of people, particularly while young, acne is something that is very difficult to avoid. Acne can be uncomfortable, can damage self confidence, and the effects can be lasting. While acne can be managed, some people find the conventional treatments uncomfortable and ineffective. There are a number of supplements that may be able to improve the situation, and a few to watch out for.
Supplements for Acne Prone Skin
Acne is a condition with a large number of causes, and it is important to try to eliminate as many potential causes as possible before embarking upon a treatment regime. Unfortunately, some of the most popular bodybuilding supplements on the market have been implicated in causing acne. Thankfully, there are alternatives out there.
Whey is considered the gold standard in protein, and dairy protein is by far the most popular protein source available on the market. Unfortunately, dairy proteins, particularly whey, have been determined to be a contributing cause of acne. This is, strangely, due to the ability of dairy protein to stimulate insulin release. Not just a regulator of blood sugar, insulin has roles in cell growth and development, and the higher levels brought about by whey consumption can lead to increased oil secretion, androgen sensitivity, and inflammation (1). This effect has been proven in a trial setting where researchers proved very convincingly that protein supplementation leads to an increase in acne (2).
This does not mean that a bodybuilder with acne needs to stop protein supplementation, as there are a number of great non-dairy alternatives.
Soy protein is one of the best quality proteins on the market, with a biological value second only to that of whey. Soy isolate is a highly purified form of soy protein and, in spite of rumours, will not cause any hormonal side effects. Redbak is an Aussie company known for
their great value, and their Rapid Soy Isolate is second to none.
Pea Protein is popular with many people who are avoiding dairy, and Vital Protein make a very popular, versatile, high quality product. Additionally, some people believe that eating alkaline food, like pea protein, can lower the body's predisposition to many conditions, including acne.
Supplements for Acne - Hormonal
As many teenagers are acutely aware, increased hormone levels are a trigger for acne. This is due to a number of factors, particularly the stimulation of enhanced oil and sebum production by androgenic hormones, such as testosterone (3).
High testosterone levels are something that bodybuilders strive for, because this anabolic hormone increases the ease with which lean muscle is gained, helps shed fat, and aids in focus and drive. There are many ways to increase the testosterone levels in the body, including a number of very effective natural supplements, like bestselling Elemental Nutrition Massive Muscle Fuel 2.0.
It is important to realise that these type of supplements may be responsible for an increase in acne, and it is worth considering taking a break from testosterone boosters while acne is being treated, or transferring to a supplement such as zinc, which may boost testosterone whilst clearing the skin.
Nutritional Supplements for Acne
Now that we know what sort of supplements can cause acne, let's take a look at some that can assist acne treatment in a natural, healthy manner.
Zinc – We have discussed Zinc earlier, but this essential trace element has been known for its positive effect on the skin for a long time. Zinc is said to boost the immune system while reducing oil secretion and inflammation (4). Some people believe that taking regular zinc supplelments like Swisse Ultiboost Zinc + may even prevent acne scarring.
Chlorophyll – Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants, and it has long been used as a detoxifying aid and internal cleanser. Many people have successfully used chlorophyll in the treatment of their acne. Elemental Nutrition Mega Greens is a superfood blend that is rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants, which are vital in maintaining optimal skin health.
Omega-3 – Essential Omega-3 Fatty acids are vital in the maintenance of healthy skin. These lipids help maintain a healthy oil balance, and are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties. A recent study showed that acne was negatively associated with high fish consumption (5). Fish is one of nature's richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Swisse Ultiboost Odourless Wild Fish Oil harnesses the goodness of omega-3 without the side effects.
(1) Melnik BC. Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:131-45.
(2) Pontes Tde C, Fernandes Filho GM, Trindade Ade S, Sobral Filho JF. Incidence of acne vulgaris in young adult users of protein-calorie supplements in the city of João Pessoa—PB. An Bras Dermatol. 2013 Nov-Dec;88(6):907-12.
(3) Lucky AW. Endocrine aspects of acne. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1983 Jun;30(3):495-9.
(4) Brandt S. The clinical effects of zinc as a topical or oral agent on the clinical response and pathophysiologic mechanisms of acne: a systematic review of the literature. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 May;12(5):542-5.
(5) Burris J, Rietkerk W, Woolf K. Relationships of self-reported dietary factors and perceived acne severity in a cohort of New York young adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Mar;114(3):384-92.