Please welcome my sister Kelsey to the blog. She put together this guest post on how she healed her own acne using real foods!
I am one of those unlucky folks that dealt with lingering acne well into my twenties. Now I am not just talking about a small pimple here and there, I am talking about moderate acne that created multiple bumps underneath my skin that caused inflammation in my cheeks and forehead. I was embarrassed that I had to deal with such a thing when all my friends had clear skin. I tried so hard to hide the scars and bumps, but despite the layers of makeup that I applied I could never quite do it. Eventually I was unwilling to go out with friends. To some this may seem a little bit silly, but after five years and no luck of successful treatment I was self conscious and tired of it. Luckily, with the help of an integrative dermatologist and my sister, I was able to come up with a supplement regimen that changed my skin for the better. Here are the supplements that immensely helped my skin and overall health.
When my acne was at its strongest, I spent a great deal of my time knit picking every detail of my skin in the mirror. I desperately wanted my skin to cooperate to the point that I was practically at the dermatologist every month and was prescribed a new prescription each time, some that caused terrible headaches and stomach pain. After trying just about every treatment, my dermatologist suggested isotretinoin, a drug derived from Vitamin A which aims to stop the production of oil. I was aware of this medication and knew a quite a few people who had success while on it, but I was unwilling to try it due to the lengthy and serious side effects. Furthermore, I was curious as to why about 80% of the American population suffers from acne, yet there is little scientific research explaining what causes it. I was also aware that most cases of severe and moderate acne do not respond to antibiotics and topical creams. Therefore, I was determined to find an alternative course to my acne treatment and began research of my own. What I found was astonishing!
This fundamental mineral plays a strong role in cell division and regrowth. In other words, it accelerates the development of skin cells necessary for clear skin. When bacteria gets into a blocked pore it can create irritation that causes your pimples to turn red. It is important to note that when you have acne, your body is more likely to react severely to these irritating bacteria than for those with “normal skin”. Therefore it is important for acne sufferers to include zinc in the diet because it works to reduce the inflammatory response to bacteria. The DIY Zinc Taste Test can help you to assess whether or not you are zinc deficient, however many experts recommend supplementing nonetheless.
Those who have ever been to a dermatologist for acne treatment might find it counterintuitive that I suggest a probiotic since most dermatologists prescribe an antibiotic to fight acne. However, in the last few years dermatologists realized that their patients were unhappy with the side effects of antibiotics and thought it would be helpful to prescribe probiotics to help minimize unwanted discomforts. In doing so, they found that probiotics actually have unexpected benefits for acne sufferers all on their own. Probiotics create a healthy or “good” bacteria that helps to digest your food and better absorb the nutrients. When your gut does not have enough of this good bacteria, it can wreak havoc on your entire body and cause inflammation, including on your skin. By taking a probiotic and creating good bacteria you can balance your gut and utilize the nutrients from your food, in return reducing irritation of your skin. A stable pre- and probioitic blend such as Prescript Assist may offer the most help. You can learn all about prebiotics in this post.
3. Krill Oil
Krill oil is derived from a species of crustacean and contains omega-3 fatty acids in combination with the antioxidant astaxanthin. The fats found in krill oil are thought to help build up healthy cell membranes as well as decrease both local swelling and inflammation of deeper skin layers associated with acne. In tandem, astaxanthin works to fight free-radicals and prevent damage from the sun and other environmental assailants. Although astaxanthin is naturally found in regular krill oil, some varieties (like this krill plus 12) also have extra astaxanthin to increase the protective effects that algae offers.
4. Vitamin B Complex
The B complex vitamins (a group of eight nutrients including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) help convert carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy, as well as assist in their digestion. By doing so, the B vitamins improve immunity, help build the nervous system and contribute to our overall health. Most notably, the full spectrum is needed on an ongoing basis to preserve the integrity of the skin, hair, eyes and liver. During acute flare-ups I have used a topical Vitamin B3 spray that can be helpful at decreasing inflammation. But, because the B vitamins work better as a group, supplements and foods containing all eight nutrients are more beneficial over the long term than those that contain just one or two. Vitamin B complexes, like this one from Premier Research Labs, have synergistic effects that enhance positive results. I take it along with Radiant Life's Grass-fed Liver, which has all of the natural co-factors (like copper and vitamin A) needed to properly absorb the B vitamins.
5. Calcium/Magnesium Blend
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps with the most basic pathways and reactions in the body. In addition to increasing cell growth and protein production, it helps keep hormone levels balanced and the nervous system running smoothly— both of which are very important for preventing acne. Furthermore, this powerful mineral directly reduces skin inflammation by lowering the plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein, a protein connected to the inflammation process within your body. By taking magnesium with calcium you have a better chance of improving the absorption and utilization of this mineral.
When you suffer from acne it is also important to include calcium because it helps with cell renewal and is involved in the production of antioxidants that help combat inflammation, which as we have learned, is key in reducing acne. However, you need to be careful when choosing where to get your calcium from. Pasteurized dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are typically what people gravitate towards for their source of calcium. Nevertheless, the ingredients found in these items might make your acne worse. The reason being, they can interfere with your hormonal balance. Most commercially-sourced dairy products contain their own source of hormones which, when absorbed into the bloodstream, can effect acne. Therefore, you should include other whole foods that are in rich in calcium such as dark greens, salmon, and sardines. Supplementing with a properly derived calcium and magnesium combo like Coral Legend Plus, which sustainably takes the minerals from actual coral, can also be a very helpful addition to your acne-fighting routine.
As for how much to take, I generally follow the serving sizes listed on each supplement. I take them just once a day in the morning, because that is when I know I will remember! My routine looks something like this:
1 teaspoon of Liquid Zinc Assay (10 mg zinc)
1-2 capsules of Prescript Assist probiotics
2 capsules Krill Plus 12 (166 mg omega-3 fatty acids, 12 mg astaxanthin)
1/2 teaspoon of Max B-ND (40mg B vitamin blend)
2 capsules Coral Legend Plus (288 mg calcium, 132 mg magnesium)
And now an early-morning, no-makeup selfie to show you just how much of a difference these changes have made:
Thanks for reading!
DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to be taken as medical advice. The articles, text and images on this site are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the consult of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.