For years, experts believed that diet had no influence on the development or severity of acne. Now the scientific community is learning that aspects of your diet do indeed play a role in acne. While multiple factors likely have an influence, data suggests vitamin A, which includes the beta carotene form, is one of them. Making some dietary adjustments may help improve your acne. Talk it over with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
Beta Carotene and Skin Health
Beta carotene is one of two forms of vitamin A found in your diet, and according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, it's the most important vitamin A carotenoid. Beta carotene is inactive; when needed, your body converts it to retinol, the active form of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps keep your skin healthy. Vitamin A helps keep collagen levels in skin cells balanced, protects skin from ultraviolet light damage and regulates signaling pathways in your skin, which promotes healthy cell growth.
Low Vitamin A Levels and Acne
Having low levels of vitamin A may play role in developing and aggravating acne, according to a study the Clinical Journal of Experimental Dermatology published in May 2006. A study published in June 2014 came to the same conclusion, finding that volunteers with mild to severe acne had significantly lower vitamin A, E and zinc levels in their blood than the control group. Vitamin E and zinc are two other nutrients that play a role in skin health. The authors recommend making dietary changes in favor of foods rich in these nutrients as a supportive treatment for acne.
Increasing Beta Carotene Intake
A recommended daily allowance for beta carotene has not been set. The best way to raise your intake of beta carotene is to increase your servings of fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene gives plants their vibrant skin pigment, so the richest sources are yellow, orange and green fruits and vegetables. Carrots, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, broccoli, bell peppers and apricots are all good choices.
Foods Rich in Vitamin E and Zinc
Vegetable oils are the primary source of vitamin E, and the daily recommended amount for adults is 15 milligrams, or 22.5 international units. Good sources are olive, safflower and sunflower oils, as well as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and avocados. When it comes to zinc, oysters are by far the richest source. Other good sources are beef, poultry, baked beans and yogurt. The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- Clinical Journal of Experimental Dermatology: Does the Plasma Level of Vitamins A and E Affect Acne Condition?
- Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology: Evaluation of Serum Vitamins A and E and Zinc Levels According to the Severity of Acne Vulgaris
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E