For decades, everyone thought of vitamin E as the most important vitamin for skin health. It has since fallen a bit behind vitamins A and C, but it is still absolutely essential for healthy skin, including vitamin E for acne treatment.
People with acne have lower levels of vitamin E in their blood than those without acne. If this research is right, it suggests that vitamin E plays an important role in the maintenance of acne-free skin.
Vitamin E for Acne: Sources
If one looks at the good food sources of vitamin E, it should not come as a surprise that, in our world of plenty, it is possible to fall short. The best sources are spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, avocado, shrimp, trout, wheat germ, olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, broccoli, pumpkin, kiwifruit, and papaya.
No grains, no dairy, and no meat on that list probably means that the average American consumes very little vitamin E in food. Furthermore, vitamin E is a delicate vitamin that is easily destroyed by heat, so the sunflower oil in which you fry your fries may not count as much as you think. Try to see the nuts as the great snacks they are, and get used to eating the fish once or twice a week. To let you into a little secret: Eggs also contain a fair amount, though not as much as the foods listed above.
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin E is a good anti-inflammatory that protects the skin from free radicals and the inflammation that they cause.
Some of this is due to an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. The primary role of glutathione peroxidase is to protect your body from oxitive damage, which it does, in part, by neutralizing fats that would otherwise be attacked by free radicals.
At least two studies have concluded that the level of glutathione peroxidase is low in the bodies of acne sufferers, and that vitamin E supplements can increase it. Both these studies showed a marked improvement in the number of pimples and their severity, just because of this antioxidant effect.
The only problem? If you stop taking the vitamin E, your glutathione peroxidase level drops again and your skin’s oils become oxidized again, causing the inflammation at the heart of acne to destroy your skin all over again.
This means that you cannot think of vitamin E as a temporary acne treatment. It needs to become a way of life.
You can either obtain it from your diet, from a supplement, or from skin creams. You can mix and match these sources as you wish. Most health authorities set a recommended daily intake of 10 to 15 milligrams, but the Mayo Clinic has set out a list of studies in which participants took hundreds or even 1,000 milligrams per day for many years without terrible side effects. As always, the safest approach is to keep it as near to the recommended daily intake as possible.
If you are wondering which skin creams to buy, vitamin E is usually called tocopheryl, tocopherol, or alpha-tocopherol.