Accutane is a medication doctors prescribe for certain skin conditions, but the product has dangerous side effects. A healthy diet might improve your health. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommends eating nutrient-dense foods and avoiding processed and fast foods that contain high amounts of sodium, sweeteners and unhealthy fats. However, eating certain types of foods can exacerbate the risks of taking Accutane. Consult your doctor about planning a healthy diet with Accutane.
Accutane is a brand-name prescription medication that contains isotretinoin and is FDA-approved to treat severe nodular acne characterized by numerous cysts on the skin. Due to its strong action and potential dangerous side effects, physicians often prescribe Accutane only after other skin medications or antibiotics have failed. Accutane is a form of vitamin A that works by reducing the amount of oil the glands in your skin release and helping your skin quickly renew itself.
Risks of Accutane
Accutane has an FDA-mandated black-box warning that the medication can cause severe, life-threatening birth defects. For this reason, pregnant and nursing women and women who are trying to become pregnant should not use Accutane. In fact, to obtain a prescription of Accutane, women of child-bearing age must agree in writing to implement two specific types of birth control and frequently test for pregnancy before, during and after taking the medication. Other serious possible side effects from Accutane include liver damage, depression, erectile dysfunction, seizures, stroke, psychosis and suicide attempts. When taking Accutane, you need to limit your dietary intake of vitamin A, including not taking any nutritional supplements that might contain the nutrient.
A healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, fish, low-fat dairy and lean meat. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes that you should eat plentiful amounts of fruits and vegetables daily to prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. However, when taking Accutane, avoid foods that contain high amounts of vitamin A, including fish, fish oil and fortified foods, and limit foods -- such as cantaloupe, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and butternut squash -- which are rich sources of beta-carotene, a substance your body converts to vitamin A.
Your body needs vitamin A for healthy vision, cell growth and proper immune function. Avoiding foods with vitamin A might cause a deficiency of the nutrient and increase your risk of infections and vision problems, such as decreased night vision. Eating dairy, legumes and high-fiber foods can exacerbate symptoms of ulcerative colitis, a condition characterized by inflammation and ulcers of the colon that can result from taking Accutane. Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that exposure to isotretinoin, especially when it's at least two months, is associated with a risk of developing ulcerative colitis, according to research published in the "American Journal of Gastroenterology" in September 2010.
- Drugs.com: Accutane
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Drug Enquirer: Accutane Side Effects and Warnings
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Many Fruits and Vegetables Do You Need?;
- Linus Pauling Institute; "Vitamin A"; Victoria Drake
- MedlinePlus; "Vitamin A"; 2010