Selenium for Acne: Can This Supplement Help You Achieve Clearer Skin?

Selenium for Acne: Can This Supplement Help You Achieve Clearer Skin?

In your journey to acne-free skin, you'll no doubt hear and learn about new ingredients, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements, that you might not even have known existed.

The antioxidant "selenium" is one of those supplements. And we'll show you exactly why selenium is so important for acne and what it can do for your skin health.  

What is Selenium?

Brazilian nuts

Selenium is a mineral that's vital for our health. It can be found in soil and naturally occurs in water and some foods. The key role of selenium in the body has a lot to do with metabolism and the function of the thyroid gland. Although we only need it in very small amounts, it's an essential mineral that we must obtain through our diet - and it has powerful antioxidant properties.

If you're a healthy individual, then most likely, you're not deficient in selenium. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for selenium is 55 micrograms a day for adults and children above 14 years old. You can get this amount from a selenium supplement or food. Brazil nuts, walnuts, fish, beef, poultry, and some grains are all rich in selenium. However, it should be noted that the amount of selenium in foods depends on location and soil conditions.

What Are the Signs of Selenium Deficiency?

woman worried

Some people show low levels of selenium - something that's mainly seen in acne patients. A selenium deficiency should get checked out, as it can seriously impact human health, including your immune system. Research shows that a deficiency can impair your thyroid hormones.

The symptoms of a moderate selenium deficiency include:

  • Brain fog
  • Weak skin and hair
  • Poor fertility
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Discolored, yellowish fingernails
  • Acne

Why is Selenium Good For Acne?

Acne is a painful skin condition where clogged pores lead to bumps, spots, and even cysts in severe cases. Oily skin (caused by increased sebum production) is usually the main culprit. People tend to have oily or acne-prone skin when their sebaceous glands produce too much oil, clogging pores with sebum and dead skin cells.

But if you suffer from acne, you're in luck. Apart from being an essential mineral for our overall health, selenium is associated with skin health - especially acne.

Antioxidant Properties


Selenium feeds your antioxidant production. What do we mean by that? Well, it's considered an antioxidant that protects other antioxidants, like vitamin E, which is also known to play a role in protecting the skin from acne breakouts. Through protecting other antioxidants, selenium increases the overall antioxidant levels, which then decreases inflammation that contributes to acne, working to decrease inflamed acne directly.

Additionally, antioxidants like selenium reduce oxidative stress by keeping free radical numbers in check. Your acne could benefit from selenium if you live in a place with higher levels of air pollution or heavy sun - or if you're exposed to smoke from cigarettes. All of this can cause oxidative stress on your skin.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties


Selenium functions in the glutathione peroxidase enzyme, which is very important in preventing the inflammation of acne.

One study found that during selenium supplementation, blood glutathione levels rise dramatically. Why is that so important, you ask? If you mention glutathione to anyone from the medical world, they'll tell you that little enzyme is the master oxidant in our bodies! It's really powerful.

Yes, we've always been told we need to eat our fruits and veggies to get our antioxidants, but no one tells you that we need to keep our minerals in check so our bodies can manufacture their own antioxidants. Selenium is one mineral that does this. It's known to reduce many types of free radicals in the body. By hoovering them up and preventing their oxidizing reactions, selenium will soothe the symptoms of your inflammatory acne.

Protective Powers


Selenium is also known to protect the body from heavy metals like mercury and arsenic. We can't protect ourselves completely against the toxic effects of these metals. Today, mercury can be found in fish, while arsenic is in vegetables. Both can cause major health issues and acne through inflammation and insulin resistance. So, even if we avoid them completely, having satisfactory levels of selenium in our blood is a great way to defend ourselves from them.

Another thing that selenium protects us from is harmful UV rays. It works by making the skin cells stronger and more resistant to sun damage. Many studies on mice have confirmed this; there is even evidence that supplementing selenium in mice exposed to extreme, damaging sunlight gives far less cancer indication. The explanation of how selenium makes this possible is probably that it strengthens collagen formation in the skin.

Benefits of Selenium

good health

  • It protects the heart - Consuming the proper amount of selenium can help decrease the risk of heart disease. This is because selenium can reduce cholesterol oxidation and blood clotting.
  • It helps patients with diabetes - Selenium can increase the amount of insulin needed for diabetic patients. It also increases glucose and controls metabolic processes.
  • It helps patients with HIV - Selenium has a positive effect on HIV patients since it contains antioxidants. This is because selenium supplementation helps to reduce the number of infected cells.
  • Controls thyroid functioning - Selenium is often associated with a well-functioning thyroid. It can control and maintain a balance of thyroid-related hormones.
  • Boosts immunity - Selenium boosts the efficiency of white blood cells, meaning it will help your body remain healthy and virus free.
  • Slows down premature aging - Selenium can help prevent age-related diseases.
  • Treats acne - By offering powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and keeping the free radicals at bay, selenium can reduce your skin's inflammatory response and prevent those dreadful acne outbreaks.

Can Selenium Make Your Acne Worse?


No, selenium can't worsen your acne condition, but several other side effects can occur if you take too much selenium - otherwise known as selenium toxicity.

A normal dose of selenium doesn't have side effects, but a chronic overdose may trigger:

  • Bad breath
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diabetes
  • Skin or prostate cancer
  • Heart, liver, and kidney problems

In rare cases, extremely high doses of selenium can be fatal, so if you're considering supplementing with selenium, consult a professional first.

So, the Matter of Using Selenium For Acne: What Does the Research Say?

research on selenium

Because selenium is an essential mineral in our bodies, many studies explore its links to conditions and diseases. Let's see what was found concerning acne.

A study conducted in the 90s found that people suffering from acne breakouts had decreased concentrations of selenium in their blood and plasma.

Another study dating as far back as 1984 examined the effect of using selenium for acne and vitamin E in the treatment of patients with acne vulgaris. The researchers gave the patients 0.2 mg of selenium and 10 mg of tocopheryl succinate twice a day for 6-12 weeks. The results were good; the symptoms of acne withdrew in almost all patients. The best results were seen in patients with pustular acne and low GSH-Px activity.

In 2012, a study examined the role of selenium in acne in 56 patients with papulopustular acne lesions. All patients were examined by a dermatologist and classified based on the severity of their condition. Then, they were given selenium doses for eight weeks. The results obtained in the study showed the beneficial effect of using selenium on patients with acne vulgaris, as indicated by the clinical improvement and biochemical findings.

Combine Selenium with an Acne-Busting Skincare Routine

If you have acne, we 100% recommend upping your selenium intake to help control inflammation. However, although selenium helps with inflammation, we'd also recommend you stick to an effective skin care routine, too. Whether you have hormonal acne, inflammatory acne, or cystic acne, you need to keep your face clean. The Clear Skin Duo Kit has everything you need in a handy package.

The Final Verdict


If you suspect you might have a selenium deficiency, consult your doctor. It's always a good idea to have your selenium levels checked. Once you know what you're working with, talk to your doctor about taking selenium as a supplement - especially if you have acne.

Still skeptical? We aren't blathering on about selenium for nothing. Check out the studies we found. They show that acne patients often have low selenium levels in their blood.

It doesn't hurt to introduce selenium into your diet. Try brazil nuts, fish, turkey, and chicken to up your intake.

And, finally, let's just stress again how important it is to consult with your doctor before taking any action. Overdoses can cause serious problems, but proper selenium dosing can relieve symptoms of acne and other skin conditions due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. If you have severe to moderate acne, your doctor may recommend other treatments, from oral antibiotics to topical acne treatments.


Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity in acne vulgaris and the effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment

Effects of silymarin, N-acetylcysteine and selenium in the treatment of papulopustular acne

Decreased concentration of selenium in whole blood and plasma in acne vulgaris

Acute Selenium Toxicity Associated With a Dietary Supplement

Harvard, School of Public Health, Selenium

Selenium, aging and aging-related diseases

Effects of dietary selenium on UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis and epidermal antioxidant status

The Role of Selenium in Inflammation and Immunity

Dietary selenium increases cellular glutathione peroxidase activity

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