Acne is multi-faceted. There’s usually no single explanation for why you have zits cropping up, and there’s no one-size-fits-all cure either. For some, it might be hormone related—as imbalanced testosterone and oestrogen can cause cystic pimples thanks to sebum production being in overdrive. For others, clogged pores can be the culprit. While topical skincare can go a long way in leaving you with glowing, clear skin, your nutrition levels are just as important.
That’s where 8 supplements come in. Think of them as a targeted way to fill the gap, as they help with inflammation, balancing hormones and repairing the skin. Dr Ankur Sarin, dermatologist, Lady Hardinge Medical College confirms that while severe acne is treated with medications and topical products, studies have suggests that over-the-counter supplements work as an adjunct to better the skin’s environment and improve the healing process.
1) Omega-3 fatty acids
While omega-3s are known to be miracle workers for distressed, dull and falling hair, they also work their charm on acne-prone skin thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties, according to Dr Sarin. They are able to regulate hormones such as testosterone that trigger the overproduction of sebum. Plus, the fatty acid EPA boosts the inflammatory response.
To control hormonal acne, dermatologist Dr Kiran Sethi suggests supplementing with magnesium. It lowers cortisol production, which then helps reduce acne by stabilising hormonal imbalances in the body. It's all connected—magnesium helps your blood sugar stay balanced, it aids sleep, and it also plays a role in the production of progesterone, oestrogen, and testosterone.
3) Vitamin B6
“Prostoglandins and fatty acids for dopamine secretion are lower in women during the menstrual cycle, and Vitamin B6 boosts that. As hormones are all interconnected, boosting these seem to help with the acne,” says Dr Sethi.
Zinc reduces sebum production, says Dr Sarin. “Studies point out that zinc has been shown to be lower in patients suffering with acne versus those without acne,” confirms Dr Sethi. Experts say that zinc is necessary for collagen synthesis, and when deficient, keratin can be more sticky, which results in clogged pores. Plus, it is able to reduce the production of DHT too. Zinc also helps in wound healing, and hence supplementation is proven effective to heal acne scars and blemishes.
Some research has shown that those with acne have lower levels of glutathione, an enzyme that is capable of preventing cellular damage. Selenium is important in the production of Vitamin A, E and glutathione peroxidase, says Dr Aishwarya Krishnamurthy, consultant - endocrinology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Noida.
Diindolylmethane, or DIM, is a compound derived from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. It blocks androgen receptors, so it is able to stop male hormones like testosterone from getting into the receptor, and serves as a stopgap against the negative effects it has on the body.
7) Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose is a rich source of omega-6 and GLA—another fatty acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reinforce and strengthen the skin barrier. It also helps with healing redness and irritation.
8) Vitamin D
According to Dr Sarin and Dr Krishnamurthy, having adequate levels of Vitamin D in your system may help address the inflammatory symptoms of your zits. Taking Vitamin D supplements could also be an alternative way of treating recurrent pustules and papules that are red and inflamed.