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Vitamin A for Acne: Healthy Skin Vitamins and Acne

Vitamin A is responsible for red blood cell production, immune system support, healthy skin, normal vision, and overall growth and development of our body. Because it’s necessary for skin maintenance and repair, a healthy amount of vitamin A will help prevent inflammation, acne, and dry skin, as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin A has tons of benefits for the skin. What vitamin A basically does is it increases our skin cell turnover rate. Not only does vitamin A help our skin rebuild its tissue, it also helps to protect our skin against environmental damages.

Vitamin A helps to form a protective barrier between the interior of the body and the exterior world. Vitamin A activates the genes that cause keratinocytes cells to mature and move to the surface of the skin. We like keratinocytes because they protect the body against environmental damage such as pathogens like bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, heat, UV radiation, and water loss. These cells do this by releasing inflammatory substances to dissolve germs and keeping toxins from entering the body through the skin, while also sending signals to the immune system for help in killing germs.

The other primary function of vitamin A is regulating the normal shedding of dead skin cells. It does this by stimulating our collagen production, elastin production, and the production of other important connective tissue that makes up the skin. Collagen is the connective tissue that skin is made up of and elastin helps the skin resume its normal shape after being stretched or contacted, and these two proteins have everything to do with wrinkles and sagging. By keeping collagen and elastin proteins plentiful, vitamin A helps to keep skin strong, firm, taut, and smooth.

Another function of vitamin A is reducing the size of sebaceous glands (which are essentially our “oil producers”) and the production of sebum (skin oil). Small glands mean less oil production, and smaller likelihoods of breaking out due to an oily face. When you have acne and you take vitamin A, the antioxidant properties of the vitamin act as an anti-inflammatory for the skin, and help to calm swollen, red, and sore acne breakouts.

Where to get it:

Plant food sources of vitamin A include orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, and squash, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Animal food sources of vitamin A can be found in butter, cream, liver, and cod liver oil. Because it takes fewer steps for the human body to use “animal” vitamin A than it takes to use “plant” vitamin A, animal foods have a greater effect on the skin.

The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin A, which is currently listed at either 3,000 or 5,000 IU depending on the source, is significantly inadequate. What’s worse is that a large percentage of Americans don’t even consume half of that recommended amount. Native populations like the Greenland Inuit of 1953, prior to contact with the Western world, got much more vitamin A than the average American- about 35,000 IU per day. Such native populations were free of modern, degenerative diseases.

It is easy to see why Americans don’t get enough of vitamin A through their diets alone: the best sources of vitamin A are only found in significant amounts in organ meats, which we don’t usually consume in huge amounts. But this just means that we have to find other ways to get our daily doses of vitamin A.

Preventing vitamin A deficiency is important in preventing acne. Several studies have shown that acne sufferers are often vitamin A deficient compared to non-acne sufferers. It is highly recommended that individuals with inflammatory acne on the face and/or body eat foods high in vitamin A, while taking vitamin A supplements each day as well.