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Deficiencies That Cause Acne

author image Clay McNight
Clay McNight is currently a nutrition writer with Demand Media Studios.
Deficiencies That Cause Acne
Vitamin E is found in its greatest quantities in nuts like almonds. Photo Credit: OlegKov/iStock/Getty Images

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in existence, affecting millions of individuals worldwide, reports a 2009 paper published in "Dermato-endocrinology." While hormones, bacteria and oily skin are generally accepted as contributors to acne, the role of diet and nutrition in creating or exacerbating the condition is still debated. The nutrient deficiencies most likely to contribute to acne are vitamins A, E and D and zinc.

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Vitamins A and E

Vitamins A and E are two antioxidant vitamins required for good health. A study published in 2006 in "Clinical and Experimental Dermatology" tested the relationship between acne and blood levels of vitamins A and E. The results of the study showed that patients with acne had significantly lower levels of both vitamins when compared to individuals in a control group. The authors of the study concluded that deficiencies in either of these vitamins could aggravate acne. Furthermore, the administration of both vitamins improved acne.


Zinc is a mineral that is also essential for the normal functioning of the human body. A study published in 2013 in "Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology" evaluated blood concentrations of zinc, along with vitamins A and E, in relation to acne severity. The researchers determined that lower levels of vitamin E and zinc were correlated with more severe acne. Based on the findings, the authors of the study concluded that zinc plus vitamins A and E could be used as treatment in those with acne.

Vitamin D

The 2009 paper published in "Dermo-endocrinology" notes that vitamin D can also play an important role in the proliferation of acne. According to the authors, the fact that vitamin D is synthesized in the skin demonstrates its importance in skin health. Furthermore, vitamin D possesses properties of skin hormones, another factor related to acne.


The richest dietary sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, beef liver, spinach, carrots, pumpkin pie, cantaloupe and peppers. Vitamin E is found in its greatest quantities in nuts and oils, with wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower oil, peanut butter and hazelnuts being some of the best sources. Among the best sources of zinc are oysters, crab, beef, lobster, fortified breakfast cereal, pork, beans, chicken, yogurt and cashews. While the most reliable source of vitamin D is regular sun exposure, vitamin D can also be found in high amounts in cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and fortified orange juice and dairy.

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