Skin Coach Q&A: Supplements for Skin?



I’m taking a Hair, Skin and Nails vitamin supplement, but it doesn’t seem to be helping my skin. My hair is thicker and healthier, but my skin is still quite broken out. Are there other supplements that I should consider adding?

Erin’s Answer:

As a health coach, I don’t prescribe medications or supplements. My recommendations are just that: recommendations. However, I do spend a significant amount of time in continuing education and research, and I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned. While some supplements are practically required for healthy skin, others will wreak havoc. Read on to learn what to eat and what to avoid…

Skin supplements that are bad for skin?

My first suggestion is to stop taking the Hair, Skin and Nails formula right away. I’ve seen a surge of acne lately with the rising popularity of these supplements. Why? They contain Biotin, a B vitamin that, while necessary for skin health, will cause acne flares in higher doses. Biotin deficiencies are rare. The recommended daily allowance is 300 mcg of Biotin per day, which we easily get from food. Also, our bodies can make it from foods we consume. Many supplement formulas contain 5000 mcg! These high dosages can lead to several other unwanted and even dangerous side effects, in addition to painful, inflamed acne of the face and body.

After you ditch the Hair, Skin and Nails…find a pharmaceutical grade multi vitamin. Why is this important? As I (daily) tell my clients, the vitamin market in the United States is a Wild West free for all. There is no regulation of the supplement industry, which sadly means that consumers have no way of trusting the claims on a label, including whether the contents are accurate, pure, or potent. Unless, that is, the supplement is pharmaceutical grade, which means they are voluntarily adhering to drug-manufacturer standards, testing, and quality control.

Compare your vitamins

For a really eye-opening look at how supplements stack up, go to and spend a few bucks on the NutriSearch Comparative Guide. Hint: if you’re taking Centrum, GNC, Kirkland, or Arbonne, prepare for disappointment. And if yours isn’t in the book, it didn’t make the cut. This helpful tool is compiled by an independent group of research scientists, and they consider multi-vitamins from a staggering array of angles in order to reach their conclusions. I wouldn’t be without a copy.

Another critical addition would be Omega 3 fatty acids. Personally, I prefer fish oil as a primary source. Vegetarian options such as Chia seeds, flax, and walnut oils also provide Omega 3s, but are not as readily available to the body. Again, pharmaceutical grade is the only way to go. But there’s a problem. The USA doesn’t have a pharmaceutical grade standard for fish oil. The solution? A company like Nordic Naturals, which adheres to the European pharmaceutical standards. This is important, in order to avoid contaminated or otherwise sub-par fish oil.

Eat this, not that

Probiotics are also very beneficial for skin health. Since it’s difficult to know if a bottle on the shelf contains live organisms, I encourage clients to get as much as possible from raw, fermented foods. Yogurt does contain probiotics, but dairy is a problem for acne. Instead, consider coconut water kefir, raw sauerkraut, kimchee, Bubbie’s pickles, and the like. Fermented foods will provide significantly more beneficial bacteria than the average supplement!

Since you suffer from acne, I would also suggest you avoid excess iodine. Kelp tablets, iodine drops, large amounts of sea vegetables, shellfish, spirulina and iodized salt will all trigger flares in the acne-prone.

Another to watch out for is Creatine. This amino acid supplement is popular with athletes and body builders because it stimulates muscle strength and bulk. It also stimulates crazy acne breakouts.

I hope this helps with your supplement choices. I also recommend eating the best possible local, seasonal, whole foods diet. Ahhh, and water. Drink lots of water. And live happily ever after.