Acne Getting Worse On A Vegan Diet? Here's What You Need To Do

May 31, 2018 5 min read 0 Comments

Acne Getting Worse On A Vegan Diet? Here's What You Need To Do

by Samantha

Veganism is trending right now, and for good reason. People are becoming more conscious of where (andwho) their food comes from, theenvironmental repercussions of adestructive,land, food and water-intensive diet, and thehealth implications associated with eatinga Standard American Diet.

Unfortunately, some of us develop some vegan acnein the process. This can be a worsening of existing acne, or an entirely new flare up. Whatever the cause is, it often leaves us feeling confused and at odds with our ethics.

Awhole food vegan diet is a fantastic lifestyle decision to make formany reasons, and you shouldn’t let a little acne stand in your way.In many cases, the skin can be cleared up simply by tweaking your diet, supplementing, and/or a good daily skincare routine.

Here are some of the leading reasons that a shift to a vegan diet may be contributing to or worsening youracne, and what you can do about it.



B12 is one of the few supplements that are recommended for vegans.The animals we eat are fedfortified foods, and when we eliminate them as a food source, we need to supplement this vitamin.

This is mostly common sense by now, and knowing this, many new vegans begin supplementing. Unfortunately,supplementing with too high of a dosage for your needs (we need very little) could result in anacne breakout.
Some people prefer to useB12 fortified foods regularly, such assoy milk, some cereals, andnutritional yeast. Although fortified foods appear to beless effective in cases of deficiency, they have ahigh bioavailability for vegans.Using fortified foods enables you to limit your B12 intake to yourrecommended dietary allowance while still keepingveganacne away.



Low zinc levelsfrequently occur in people with acne,whether they’re vegan or not.In fact, in both deficient and non-deficient acne patients, zinc supplementationimproved their acne, although the high doses (400-600mg/day) came with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Becausemegadosing on zinc is dangerous, it’s important to stick to therecommended daily amount. Even atfairly low doses from increasing zinc in their diet (whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy), many people report great improvement in their acne.



Whaaaat is dairy doing on this list? I thought dairy wastotally bad for acne?! Well,it is, that much hasn’t changed. But dairy is a major source ofexogenous hormones in the diet which can measurably affect our health and eliminating it could potentially throw your hormones for quite a loop.If this is the case, and I suspect for many of us it is, all you can really do is ride it out, and skip to the Skincare section.



Any major diet shift can have us relying on foods we’ve always eaten, but maybe more heavily than before. Sometimes we may not even realize it.

I rely a lot more on bread now than I had before,mostly because I cansometimes be a little bit lazy,and also because I just really love bread.

But high glycemic foods white bread, white flour, cereals (corn flakes, instant oatmeal), white rice or pasta, russet potatoes, pretzels, rice cakes, crackers, melons –can lead to insulin spikes, which canlead toveganacne.Reducing consumption of these high glycemic foods may help some people, especially bread lovers like myself.



Another reason we may be dealing with a sudden bout ofvegan acne is our gut’s (in)ability to adapt to dietarychanges.

Everyone has a different microbiome, which is influenced by many factors, and scientists have known for a long time that the food choices we make can affect the balance of microbes in our digestive tracts. Choosing between a salad and a hamburger for lunch can increase the populations of some bacteria, whilediminishing others. As the numbers of these bacteria change, they can secrete different substances, trigger different genes, and absorb different nutrients.

While our gut bacteriadigest and absorb nutrients in our food,they also make vitamins that are vital for life (hello B12, we meet again), send signals to our immune systems, and make molecules that help our brains work. Clearly these microscopic organisms have some serious pull –I guess we aremore bacteria than we are “us”.

When we eat a dietlacking variety and fiber, this promotes the growth of only a few types of bacteria, whichbecome the majority in the gut. This enables the majority bacteria to exertstronger influences on us, by manufacturing behavior and mood-alteringneurochemicals and hormones.It’s possiblethat these effects can result in things likeinflammationor genetic triggers,which could result in acne outbreaks.

Fluctuations in hormones canalsoalter thecomposition and diversity ofyourmicrobiota, and so we may be adding secondary insult by eliminating hormone-laden dairy products.There has even been some question as to whether or not gut bacteria actuallyregulate testosterone. This provides another pathway for gut microbes to affect our skin.

Clearly a drastic change in diet – any change, really – can affect your gut microbiome, anditcouldtake some time for microbial numbers and diversity togrow.Tryconsuming dairy-free probiotic yogurts, ora probiotic supplement toexpedite the process!



Food allergies are one of the first things I look at when people developveganacne.A sudden change in diet may have us seeking out alternative protein sources – nuts and soy – or an excess of carbslike wheat all of which are common allergens.Maybe you’re discovering your love obsession with strawberries?It doesn’t hurt to look at anybigchanges you’ve made in your diet to see if allergies may be to blame.

Contrary to the misconception thatconsuming too much soy is throwing off your hormones, there’s no evidence that this is true. However, if you’re allergic, itcan manifest on the skin. If you think this is the culprit, try anelimination diet and get an allergy test done.

And if these dietary tweaks don’t work, you can always move along to your skincare routine.


skincare routine


Having agood routine will help keep your skin clear even through big lifestyle and dietary changes.

If acne is aparticular concern for you when switching to a vegan diet, you could add salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to combat any pesky pimples. If you dosuddenly find yourself withveganacne, don’t panicand push aside your ethics– it may clear up on its own in a few weeks once your body adjusts to your new diet.And if it doesn’t, you still have a lot ofoptions that could help you find the cause.




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