Below are the supplements I believe are best for reversing acne. These are the few essentials that have the best bang for your buck. The research behind these decisions is in the Quick Start Guide.
These are products I believe in. I only recommend GMP (good manufacturing practices) certified companies. The supplement industry can be shady, GMP is the only way to be certain you are getting what is on the label. If you have problems with supplement or the company, let me know. I only want to recommend good products.
[This page contains affiliate links (products I use or believe in). To learn about the affiliate program click here. Non-affiliate links are abbreviated NAL.]
DISCLAIMER: Read full disclaimer here. This page contains supplement dosage recommendations. The all “basic dosages” are below the USDA “Tolerable Upper Intake Limit” (ULs) for men and women older than 19, meaning that are considered safe assuming no medical preconditions, genetic mutations, or drug contraindications. Therapeutic doses exceed their respective ULs and should only be administered understanding the risks of excess, with the guidance of a medical practitioner, and for short duration. Be careful, my friends.
Zinc is the ultimate anti-acne supplement. Zinc, especially at dosages higher than 25mg/day should be taken with copper. Below are various zinc, copper, and blended supplements.
- NOW Foods Zinc Gluconate, 50 mg (NAL) – Best value
- NOW Foods Zinc Picolinate, 50 mg (NAL) – Best absorption
- Solaray Zinc/Copper, 50 mg/2 mg (NAL) – Prebalanced with copper
- Pure Encapsulations Copper Glycinate, 2 mg (NAL) – For balancing zinc
You will have to vary your dosage depending on age and sex. A table can be found here. Always take zinc with meals (especially high doses) and take no more than 50 mg at a time to avoid nausea.
Basic Dose – For those with mild to moderate acne who are trying to improve or maintain skin health. The dose is 25 mg/day (optional copper 1 mg/day). This dose is safe (below tolerable limit) for those older than 13.
Therapeutic Dose – In some cases there can be benefits to taking doses higher than 25 mg/day. Some studies have seen benefits to doses as high as 130mg/day. But these “therapeutic doses” are meant to be temporary interventions to correct a deficiency. Long-term continuation can cause adverse effects and should be done under the supervision of a medical practitioner. Therapeutic doses are between 50-130mg/day. This should be continued for no more than for 10 weeks at a time. Take with copper, at least 1 mg/day (ideally take zinc and copper at a ratio of about 10 to 1). While benefits have been seen to therapeutic doses, they put you at some risk of copper depletion and excess zinc. Before trying this, read about the risks here and consider consulting a medical practitioner.
Cod liver oil contains active vitamin A (retinol), vitamin D3, vitamin E, and omega-3 fats. It is nature’s anti-acne multivitamin.
- Nature’s Answer Cod Liver Oil (NAL) – Best value. Loose oil (tastes pleasantly lemony)
- Carlson Cod Liver Oil, Softgels (NAL) – Good value for capsules
- Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil (NAL) – Highly quality, but expensive
Take doses of cod liver oil according to the amount of vitamin A. You will have to vary your dosage depending on age and sex. A table can be found here. The volume you take (teaspoons or capsules) will vary depending on your desired IU and the product you buy.
Basic Dose – For those with mild to moderate acne who are trying to improve or maintain skin health. The dose is 2000-5000 IU/day. This dose is safe (below tolerable limit) for those 9 or older.
Therapeutic Dose – In some cases there can be benefits to taking doses higher than 5000 IU/day. But these “therapeutic doses” are meant to be temporary interventions to correct a deficiency. Long-term continuation can cause adverse effects and should be done under the supervision of a medical practitioner. Therapeutic doses are between 10,000-15,000 IU/day. This should be continued for no more than for 10 weeks at a time. Some of the effects of excess vitamin A mimic vitamin D deficiency. While cod liver oil naturally has some vitamin D, taking an extra 1,000-2,000 IU/day of vitamin D may protect against excess vitamin A. Before trying this, read about the risks here and consider consulting a medical practitioner.
Probiotics / Prebiotics
The probiotics living in dirt are associated with some of the best health benefits. Unfortunately, our food is so clean, we rarely eat any of them. If we do, the food is often pesticide-treated which can kill beneficial organisms.
Here are the three soil-based probiotics. Each contains different organisms, so there are added benefits to taking multiple types. But taking just one is great.
- Primal Defense Ultra (NAL) – Best value
- Advanced Orthomolecular Research Probiotic (NAL)
- Prescript-Assist Probiotic Prebiotic Complex (NAL) – Contains prebiotics as well
Prebiotics (fiber) are the food for probiotics. It doesn’t matter how many probiotics you cram down. If you don’t feed these new bacteria, you won’t see much of a difference. Prebiotics are the way to do it. But increase dosage SLOWLY. If you go too fast, you may get painful gas and bloating. The whole food alternatives to these are starchy and non-starchy vegetables. Eat more of them and more variety.
Resistant Potato Starch
Despite being 100% carbohydrate, raw potato starch isn’t digested as such. It doesn’t affect blood sugar at all. In fact, it can lessen the glycemic response of later meals. It also feeds good gut bacteria. Start with 1/2 tablespoon per day. Increase slowly until 4 tablespoons, after which you likely will just poop the rest out.
- Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch, Single Bag (NAL) – I recommend starting with a single bag.
- Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch, Four Bags (NAL) – If you like it, it is easier to get several bags at once.
Inulin and Fructo-Oligo-Saccharides (FOS)
These are soluble prebiotic fibers found in plants like onion, leek, or chicory. The promote good gut bacteria. A teaspoon is a serving.
- Jarrow Inulin FOS Powder 180g (NAL) – I recommend starting with Jarrow’s as it is cheaper.
- NOW Foods Inulin FOS 16oz (NAL) – If you get hooked, Now’s 16oz is cheaper per ounce.
What if you have no acne?
The recommendations for zinc and cod liver oil are most important when the skin is healing and deficiencies are being removed. Once you have reversed your acne, these supplements should be replaced as much as possible by whole foods.