Vitamin A for Acne, Side Effects, Supplements, Creams, Dosage

Acne is a common skin condition. The truth is, it can strike at any age. Vitamin A is one of the most effective remedies you can use to treat his condition. Vitamin A helps the skin repair itself and boosts the immune system. In so doing, it helps fight bacteria causing acne blemishes. Here is how to use vitamin A for acne, some of the common side effects and the right dosage to use.

Best vitamin for acne

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions not only in the US but also in the world. acne occurs when an enlarged skin pore becomes blocked with dead skin cells and sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin, creating an environment for bacterial overgrowth.

There are two types of acne, the hormonal and the cystic acne. After they disappear, they leave scars on your face, which are very uncomfortable and hence the need to get rid of them.

vitamin A cream for acne
vitamin A cream for acne

Vitamin A is, however, a powerful antioxidant that helps in getting rid of acne and prevents the skin as well. This article takes a look at several vitamins that play a major role along with vitamin A in eradicating acne along with the scars left behind, the side effects of such vitamins, their supplements, and the required dosages.

It’s only about 5% of the population gets the recommended amount of minerals every day. When your body’s nutritional needs are not met, the functionality of various organs including the skin gets messed up. You should, therefore, consider supplementing your diet with the following vitamins in case you have acne;

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is vital for a healthy skin since it helps strengthen skin tissue. It helps reduce sebum production that could clog pores and irritate skin, it is a strong antioxidant that can combat free radical damage, and its deficiency could, therefore, cause acne.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 contains eicosapentaenoic acid, which is a fatty acid found in fish and seafood, particularly oil ocean fish such as mackerel or sardines. It contains excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. Since acne is a condition caused by inflammation, it serves as an anti-inflammatory supplement for clearing acne. Omega-3 fatty acids clear acne through inhibiting two inflammatory chemicals responsible for acne breakouts, these are PGE2 and LTB4. In order to inhibit production of these two chemicals, you can use a drug Accutane, or try natural procedure with EPA omega-3 fatty acids.

EPA omega-3 fatty supplements are good for reducing inflammation, leading to a low rate or no acne. That is why it is recommended that individuals with inflammatory acne on the face to eat foods high in omega-3 acids and supplement with 2 grams of EPA omega-3 per day.

There are many B vitamins and each has a role to play in maintaining the health of your skin cells. These include;

3. Riboflavin (B2)

Acne may erupt as a result of vitamin B2 deficiency. This vitamin is normally essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. You will need a dose of 300 mg broken up into three doses per day in order to clear up acne

4. Niacin (B3)

This vitamin helps metabolize carbohydrates and improves circulation. Improved circulation is vital for pulling toxins out of your system faster.

Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3 or niacin, which can be applied topically to treat acne. According to research, applying 4% of nicotinamide gel for 8 weeks can result in significant reduction of bumps in people with moderate acne. These results could be because of the fact that this product contains strong anti-inflammatory properties.

You can also take oral nicotinamide, which study has proven that 85% of people who such supplements for 8 weeks have experienced a significant improvement in their acne.

5. Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid is a requirement in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The most active form of vitamin B5 is D-pathogenic acid, which can be obtained from whole grains, legumes, yogurt, eggs, cereals, and meat.

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What is the role of vitamin B5 in acne? According to research published by Dr. Lit-Hung Leung in 1995, there are two mechanisms by which vitamin B5 can help in both preventing and relieving acne symptoms.

First, it helps reduce the size of skin pores. The astringent constriction of the pores by this vitamin does not have the side effect of skin dryness, unlike the one produced by the regular acne medications. Construction of the pores leads to a buildup of sebum, which is in turn pushed to the skin surface where it can be sloughed off. The constriction also reduces any chances of the pores getting clogged by dead skin cells, bacteria, and excess sebum.

Secondly, vitamin B5 improves acne symptoms through the involvement of Coenzyme A. since pantothenic acid increases production of this enzyme, there is faster fat metabolism. This leads to much less fat getting pushed by the sebaceous glands and therefore production of sebum reduces. Since it’s the excess sebum that provides an ideal environment for the growth of acne-causing bacteria, the effect from this vitamin means that the bacteria gets starved hence reducing acne breakouts.

How do you know that you are lacking vitamin B5? It is very rare for a person who eats a well-balanced diet to be deficient of this vitamin. In case it happens, the common symptoms of such a condition include;

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Hot feet
  • Depression
  • Stomach pains

6. Vitamin B6

In relation to acne, vitamin B6 helps in regulating levels and prostaglandin release. This vitamin may, therefore, reduce the production of male sex hormones such as testosterone and its metabolites, which are known to cause acne. It also helps in reducing inflammation response mediated by prostaglandin to skin injuries.

This vitamin may also trigger acne breakouts especially when taken in high doses. You should be therefore careful if you expect positive effect from mega doses of supplementation by this vitamin since you may experience the opposite effect. The exact mechanism for such a reaction from high doses of this vitamin is not quite known but can be amplified when combined with vitamin B12.

The following are signs of vitamin B6 deficiency;

  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Low energy levels
  • Pain and aches in the muscles
  • Mood swings
  • Anemia
  • Confusion and forgetfulness

7. Vitamin B12

Vitamin is also referred to as cobalamin. It is produced by bacteria in both plants and animals, from where human beings acquire it. These bacteria produce hydroxocobalamin, which is a form of vitamin B12 converted to cyanocobalamin during the manufacturing process.

It is sometimes sold as injectable vitamin B12. Cyanocobalamin is converted back to hydroxocobalamin and then into two active forms of vitamin B12; methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin in the liver. This makes liver the richest sources of this vitamin.

Some other dietary sources of this vitamin include; eggs, milk, fish, poultry and fortified foods, and shellfish.

9. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, can be obtained from dietary sources, which include;

Raw liver, milk, oysters, fruits, and vegetables; this vitamin is water-soluble and a very strong antioxidant.  It is involved in the synthesis of collagen and it’s also a cofactor for many enzymes. This vitamin can be safely taken in large doses and it is difficult to achieve its toxicity, and if so, it causes mild symptoms such as diarrhea, headache, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue.

How this vitamin does helps with acne? Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant in acne treatment. As an antioxidant, this vitamin protects the skin from damage from free radicals, which can cause a chain of reactions that lead to acne breakouts. The ascorbic acid has a unique antioxidant profile since it does not produce reactive oxygen species when it is regenerated to be reused.

Vitamin C helps protect the skin through the production of stable collagen. Through this, it prevents the skin’s protective barrier from breaking down as toxins come up to the surface. it may also help in skin pigmentation and in the removal of acne scars. This protective quality offered by vitamin C on the skin is very useful in acne treatment, especially when oral antibiotics are used to clear acne breakouts.

This vitamin is not only prescribed to improve anti-acne effects of the antibiotics but also help reduce the hyperpigmentation they may cause, as well as protect the skin from ultraviolet light.

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10. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is naturally found in fruits and vegetables, which are an essential part of our everyday diet. It helps protect the skin from sun damage and is added to many over-the-counter skin care preparations.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. This property enables it to speed up acne healing and offer the skin protection at the same time. Ii also has anti-inflammatory properties that play a big role in skin exfoliation. This vitamin is excellent acne removal unlike any other removal product, and this leaves the skin glowing and rejuvenated. It’s fat soluble nature enables it to give the skin moisture and fat, making it glow vibrantly.

It is produced in the body, but can also be obtained from foods such as;

  • Vegetable oil
  • Spinach
  • Almond
  • Peanut butter
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nuts
  • Avocado

Vitamin A for acne dosage

Why is vitamin A, important for the skin? Vitamin A is essential to your body because it strengthens the skin tissue. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps combat free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress, leading to a change in the environment of your sebaceous glands. These glands are under the skin and produce oil that makes it easier for acnes bacteria to collect and form blemishes.

vitamin A for acne
vitamin A for acne

The following are Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine- Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Recommended Intakes;

Infants (average intake)

  • 1-6 months: 400 micrograms per day (mcg/day)
  • 7- 12 months: 500 mcg/day
  • Adolescents and adults (RDA)
  • Males aged 14 and above; 900 mcg/day
  • Females age 14 and above: 700 mcg/day
  • ½ teaspoon of Max B-ND (40mg B vitamin blend)
  • 2 capsules krill plus 12 (166 mg omega-3 fatty acids, 12 mg astaxanthin)

Vitamin for hormonal acne                

Hormonal acne could surface because of hormonal imbalance. During this stage, the glands produce more oil than normal, and the hair follicles get clogged, allowing bacteria to grow. These bumps appear in different forms and depths, including cysts, whiteheads, blackheads, and nodules.

To eradicate this condition, there are topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide, some oral drugs that contain vitamin A such as Accutane for severe cases of acne. There are also antibiotics like tetracycline.

You need vitamin A to combat acne.  This vitamin has both oral supplements and topical medications. The supplements are not highly recommended however, this is because they are fat-soluble and could end up doing more harm than good in the body. This is because they build up in your body and the higher the intake, the more the toxins accumulate in your body. Use of supplements should be recommended by the doctor to avoid such side effects, especially for pregnant women.

Vitamin A for acne scars

Acne scars are usually the result of inflamed blemishes caused by skin pores engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Scars and blemishes are the unfortunate markers of how far your skin will go to protect your body.

Vitamin A activates genes that cause skin cells to mature and rise to the surface. This helps open up the skin over the pores and could play a major role in eradicating acne scars

This vitamin is good for a specialized group of skin cells called keratinocytes. These cells make up to 95% of the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. This layer helps dissolve germs and holds off toxins from entering the body through the skin, as well as sending signals to the immune system to help in clearing germs. When vitamin A attaches itself to keratinocyte, it activates specific sequences of DNA that help cell reproduce itself. The fast growth of the skin cells helps in the clearing of the acne scars.

If you see signs of scars from your acne on your skin, you don’t have to grin and bear it. This is because there are lots of ways to completely heal your scars and prevent new ones from forming. For instance, you should consider retinoid medications.

Vitamin A cream for acne

Vitamin A for acne can be applied topically in form of a cream. Such topical creams chemically alter the vitamin into a retinoid, which you can apply to the skin. According to research conducted by Mayo Clinic, retinoid is the most effective treatment for acne because of their ability to regenerate and heal the skin more rapidly, resulting in a fresh skin.

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Retinoid brands vary in their side effects. Some of the common brands include Tazorac, Differin, and Accutane. These need to be prescribed by your doctor for you to finally use. Some of the side effects of retinoid include weakening the skin’s natural ultraviolet protection. That is why it is recommended to avoid this kind of treatment especially if you are pregnant. You should also stay clear of overexposure to the sun or use sunscreen to avoid such effects on the skin.

Side effects of vitamin A

Research has confirmed that consuming large amounts of vitamin A poses a health risk. This can bring along several side effects, which include;


Vitamin A toxicity is also known as hypervitaminosis, which occurs when there is an intake of too much vitamin A in the body. This condition may either be acute or chronic. Acute hypervitaminosis will occur when you take in large amounts of these vitamins over a short period of time; this could be within hours or days. Chronic hypervitaminosis is an intake of large amounts of vitamin A over a long period of time, which buildup in your body.

High levels of these vitamins can suppress bone building, increase bone loss, cause changes in vision and skin changes. Chronic toxicity can cause liver damage and increased pressure on your brain.

Acute vitamin A toxicity could be as a result of accidental ingestion, especially in children. Most people develop excess amounts of vitamin A from accumulation as a result of frequent intake of high-dose dietary supplements, probably due to megavitamin therapy. Megavitamin therapy involves consumption of large doses of certain vitamins in order to prevent or treat diseases. Toxicity could also be as a result of long-term use of certain acne treatments that contain high-doses of vitamin A, such as Isotretinoin.

Vitamin A deficiency side effects

rich sources of vitamin A for acne
rich sources of vitamin A for acne

Shortage of vitamin A in children may weaken their immune system and hence increases their chances of acquiring some infections such as diarrhea, measles, among other conditions.

This deficiency has been reported by World Health Organization (WHO) as a common cause of preventable blindness in children

Low vitamin A levels in pregnant women may lead to birth or pregnancy complications. There is a great risk of losing the child especially during the last trimester or during birth. A pregnant woman with this deficiency may also suffer night-blindness.

Hair loss- low vitamins can cause hair loss and this affects most people at some point in their lives.

Some other serious effects of vitamin A include;

  • Enlarged forehead in babies
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Visual changes
  • Increased pressure in the space between the skull and brain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Coma
  • Liver disease

Is vitamin A good for acne

How does vitamin A help acne? Vitamin A is used for treating acne by rejuvenating the skin. This vitamin does this by exfoliating the top layer of the skin and increasing skin turnover by promoting the maturation of the epithelial cells. It is also a required acne treatment for reducing the inflammatory response immune cells for promoting hormonal balance. Through this, the vitamin prevents the production of excess sebum and the formation of inflammatory acne lesions.

Vitamin A also has strong anti-acne benefits, and its antioxidant qualities protect the skin by removing reactive oxygen species along with other harmful free radicals from the skin. These qualities are boosted by the presence of other antioxidants such as selenium. This vitamin is available as oral supplements and in topical acne preparations.

There are various kinds of vitamin A that appear in skin care products, these include;

Retinoic acid- this is a form of vitamin A that the body uses since it binds to various receptor sites on cells in tissues throughout the body to switch genes on and off. Your body needs to male retinoic acid at the cellular level.

Retinyl palmitate is converted by the body to vitamin A. this ingredient appears in many acne creams and is stable since it never breaks down even when the product stays on the shelf.


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