In your journey to acne-free skin, you will no doubt hear and learn about new ingredients, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements, that you might not even know existed. And, why would you - who bothers with that? Well, Selenium is one of those names. And we’ll show you why exactly is Selenium so important for acne.
Selenium is a mineral, vital for our health. It can be found in soil, and it 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 are 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 supplements or food. Brazilian 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.
There are occasions that some people show low levels of selenium, mainly seen in acne patients. The symptoms include:
Apart from being an essential mineral for our overall health, selenium is associated with skin health, and especially acne.
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 are documented to decrease inflammation that contributes to acne, as well as working to decrease the inflamed acne directly.
Additionally, antioxidants like selenium help reduce oxidative stress by keeping free radical numbers in check. Your acne could particularly benefit from selenium if you live in a place where oxidative stress on your skin is high, such as exposure to higher levels of air pollution, heavy sun and smoke from cigarettes.
Selenium functions in the glutathione peroxidase enzyme, which is very important in preventing the inflammation of acne. One study found that during selenium supplementation the blood glutathione levels rose dramatically. Why is that so important, you ask? If you mention glutathione to anyone from the medical world they will tell you that little enzyme is the master oxidant in our bodies! It’s really powerful. And, yes everyone always told us we need to eat our fruits and veggies in order to get our oxidants, but what no one tells you is that we need to have our minerals in check so our body can manufacture its 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 lower the inflammation of your acne.
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 in vegetables. Both can cause major health issues as well as acne through inflammation and insulin resistance. So, even if we can 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 the harmful UV rays. It works by making the skin stronger and more resistant to sun damage. Many studies on mice have confirmed this, there is even evidence that supplementing selenium in mice that are exposed to extreme, damaging sunlight, gives far less cancer indication. The explanation on how selenium makes this possible, is probably that it strengthens the collagen proteins in the skin that have a protective capacity.
No, selenium can’t make your acne condition worse, but still, there are a number of other side-effects that can occur, if you are taking too much selenium.
A normal dose of selenium doesn’t have side-effects, but a chronic overdose may trigger:
In rare cases, extremely high doses of selenium can be fatal, so if you are thinking about supplementing with selenium, consult with a professional first.
Because selenium is an essential mineral in our bodies, there are a lot of studies that explore its links to many conditions and diseases. Let’s see what was found concerning acne.
A study conducted in the 90s found that people suffering from acne vulgaris had decreased concentration of selenium in their blood and plasma.
Another study dating as back as 1984 examined the effect of using selenium for acne and vitamin E in the treatment of patients with acne vulgaris. The researches 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. Best results were seen in patients with pustular acne and low GSH-Px activity.
In 2012, a study examined the role of selenium for acne on 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 to patients with acne vulgaris as indicated by the clinical improvement and biochemical findings.
If you suspect you might have a selenium deficiency, consult with your doctor. It’s always a good idea to have your selenium levels checked, and based on that to talk to your doctor about taking selenium as a supplement. And, hey, the solution for your acne problem might turn out to be something as simple as taking selenium for acne.
Still skeptical? We aren’t blathering on about selenium for nothing. Check out the studies we found. They show that patients with acne vulgaris often have low levels of selenium in their blood.
And, finally, let’s just stress again how important it is to consult with your doctor before taking any kind of action. Overdoses can cause serious problems but, proper dosing seems to relieve symptoms of acne, due to the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of selenium.