Vitamin D for Acne – The #1 Acne Vitamin

Vitamin D for Acne – The #1 Acne Vitamin

Vitamin D and Acne | Get Some Sun

Get some sun – natural Vitamin D helps acne by reducing inflammation.

If you’re still struggling with acne, it might be because you’re not getting enough Vitamin D.

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a major role in healing and preventing acne, and chances are that you’re not getting enough of it. In fact,  Vitamin D levels have been steadily declining over a number of decades, and 75% of American adults are clinically deficient.*

Are you at risk for Vitamin D deficiency?

You might be, if…

  • You work indoors
  • You live in a gray, rainy climate
  • It’s winter
  • You don’t get sunshine on your bare skin at least 3 times per week
  • You have darker skin (anything other than “fair”)

How does Vitamin D help acne?

Vitamin D:

  • Reduces wrinkles and makes your skin soft, strong, and smooth (the “glow”)
  • Benefits/prevents diabetes by controlling your insulin response (also improving acne)
  • Cools inflammation, reducing acne
  • Boosts your immune system, often fighting off flu infections as effectively as flu shots (recent studies confirm this)
  • Improves mood and eases depression
  • Allows you to absorb calcium, preventing osteoporosis (in fact, you really can’t absorb calcium without Vitamin D!)
  • Fights cancer by taming the wild reproduction of cancer cells
  • Reduces respiratory infections
  • Relieves body aches by reducing muscle spasms

In short, you must get enough of this vitamin, for your health and longevity, and especially for your acne.

Get Vitamin D from sun first, then take pills as a backup

Your body makes all the Vitamin D it needs for a few days in just 10-15 minutes of full-body sun exposure (think swimsuit), depending on your latitude and skin pigmentation. The darker your skin, and further away from the equator you live, the longer you’ll need to stay in the sun.

Avoid most sunscreens, as they prevent your skin from producing Vitamin D (if your skin doesn’t get any sun, how can you make Vitamin D?), they poison your skin with parabens, chemicals and preservatives, and they clog your pores.

I only use sunscreen after I’ve been in the sun long enough to get my maximum Vitamin D dose for the day (well before sunburn), and I only use oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreens, with no parabens or other harmful chemicals. They’re more expensive, but they lessen the toxic load on your body, allowing your body to focus more on repairing itself (and your acne). You can check out the EWG’s list of recommended safe sunscreenswe like and use this one, since the spray is not as thick and pasty as most mineral sunscreens.

On any day that you don’t get sunshine – which for most people will be the majority of days – take a Vitamin D supplement. I don’t recommend taking a ton of supplements to clear acne, as eating an anti-inflammatory diet is much more effective, long-lasting, and deep-reaching than taking a bunch of pills.

Vitamin D is just too critical to your health to skimp on. Too many people live in rainy, cloudy climates for much of the year where they are unable to get enough Vitamin D naturally (take it from me – I grew up in Seattle, grey and rainy capital of the States!) or they work indoors or sit inside at the computer instead of going outside and getting some sunshine. 75% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D! That’s seriously bad news for acne.

“Vitamin D Enriched” foods do not provide enough Vitamin D

Despite what the FDA says, you cannot get enough Vitamin D from “Vitamin D enriched” foods, such as Vitamin D milk. (Plus, milk is probably the #1 most potent acne-causing food – read why here.) The FDA guidelines are horribly out of date and haven’t caught up with the latest research. See why in the next section.

Take 5,000+ IU of Vitamin D3 per day

Look for Vitamin D3 at around a 5,000 IU concentration per pill, and take one per day. As of 2011, the FDA’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin D is a criminally low 400 IU (International Units). The latest research shows that this is not even close to your body’s actual need, and there are groups of concerned scientists – most notably, the Vitamin D Council – trying to lobby the FDA to raise its recommended intake to cure the near-nationwide-epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.**

Case in point: in just 10-15 minutes of sun exposure, your skin produces 10,000 IU of Vitamin D, so logically, the paltry recommendation of 400 IU per day is not going to give you near enough of this precious nutrient if you don’t have access to sun! 5,000 IU – 10,000 IU per day is instead the target you want to shoot for. And you don’t have to worry about toxicity, because you’d need to take over 50,000 IU per day for several months before approaching toxic levels.

It’s absolutely critical that you take the right type of Vitamin D – for example, Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is commonly found in drugstores, but the majority of current research suggests that D2 is not nearly as effective as natural sun-derived Vitamin D.

Instead, make sure you’re getting cholecalciferol, also known as Vitamin D3, which precisely mimics the natural Vitamin D your skin makes from direct sun.

If you can’t find D3 in 5,000 IU amounts, you can buy pills with less D and stack them (e.g. take 5 capsules daily with 1,000 IU D3). As another option, this brand is an affordable choice that doesn’t include any vegetable oils or other problematic ingredients.

Summary – Why Vitamin D is the #1 Acne Vitamin

Vitamin D:

  • Cools inflammation (reducing redness and swelling of acne)
  • Boosts your immune system (allowing your skin to get rid of toxins better, and making it easier to fight off acne bacteria)
  • Improves your mood (reducing stress, lowering your cortisol levels, and improving acne)

Of course, if you’re eating a pro-inflammatory diet, not getting enough sleep, and not living a balanced lifestyle, no amount of vitamin D is going to produce these effects… much less cure your acne. For most of us, simply taking a supplement – even a powerful one like Vitamin D – isn’t going to be enough to heal our acne completely. That’s why we wrote the book on how you can cure your acne with diet and lifestyle – check that out here!

Get sun on your bare skin almost every day, or take 5000+ IU of Vitamin D per day, especially if you work indoors and/or live in a gray, rainy climate. By getting the sunshine vitamin as part of a clear-skin diet and lifestyle, you’ll notice improved overall health and a big improvement in your acne.

Ready for the Clear Skin Challenge?

You can have clear skin too. Stay and read for a while, and/or grab a copy of our book, and we’ll walk you through the whole process! I (Devin) have cured acne for myself with a sustainable, all-natural diet+lifestyle method, and I want to share this with as many people as I can. If you find valuable tips on this site, please share it with a friend who struggles with acne. You’d want them to share it with you, right? :)


*Scientific American: “Vitamin D deficiency soars in the US, study says”

**Vitamin D Council: About Vitamin D


  1. jean says

    i tried to use retinol 50,000 iu per week as recommended by my dermatologist. At first i’d suffered severe breakouts for 2 months that made my face worst but still not given up ‘coz my derma told me it was just normal. Luckily, i made a decision to have my labs check and binggo i’ve found out that my vitamin d is only 14.. Since i’m working in a hospital in ksa, obviously i’m not exposed in the sun coz we’re not allowed to go out. To make my story short, after 2 days of taking vitamin 2,800iu per day i didn’t have new bumps on my face that usually i got when i took vitamin A. After a month of taking my sunshine vitamin, i only got acne scars which is my problem now but no more breakouts!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Woohoo, Jean! Way to go! Sounds like a HUGE discovery. Thanks for sharing! Keep getting those levels tested and make sure they don’t go too high. :)

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Maya! You’re right that FCLO is a great source of vitamin D, but I believe it’s D2 and not actually D3. I’ve read some reports of people not being able to maintain D3 levels on FCLO alone. They had to additionally supplement D3. Definitely worth getting your D levels checked just to be sure!

  2. elaine says

    got my bloods done and came back that I’m low in vitamin D my doctor give me desunin 800 iu Tablets Is This strong enough for me I have aches all over for past while and very tired what all could I be taken to boost me up
    yours faithfully Elaine x

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Elaine! Hmm… what were your D levels, if you feel comfortable sharing? Chris Kresser recommends 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of bodyweight per day, until you get your levels up the ~35 range. Just keep getting your levels tested to make sure you don’t overshoot that. For general aches / etc., are you eating any gluten/wheat? How about sugar? Those things often can trigger systemic inflammation and body/joint aches.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Craig! It’s possible, though that’s not something that most people experience, I think. What brand are you taking? Alternatively, could it be something else – have you done anything different with your diet lately, or had any major life events or stressors that may be impacting you?

      • Craig Jones says

        Hey guys, thank you for the reply! The brand I’m taking is Solgar. nope nothing else has changed, this is actually the second time I.have tried these Solgar ones and both times I’ve broken out! You could be right with the yeast, I was on antibiotics for about a year and a half!

        • Sonia Carlson says

          Hm, it sounds like you’ve got some good evidence that it’s the D supplement that’s triggering breakouts. In these cases it’s hard to know if it’s a die-off reaction like Devin suggested or if it’s just breaking you out, but I would suspect the former before abandoning the D supplement altogether. (Alternatively, you could try another brand to see if that could be the issue.) If after a week or two of taking the supplement daily you’re still breaking out more than before, then I’m not sure you could chalk it up to a Herx reaction… in which case it might just be that brand, or something else!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Craig, I’m not really sure how D3 would cause an initial breakout, unless you were getting a Herx reaction if the extra D3 was revving up your immune system to its ideal level, allowing it to fight off some kind of systemic yeast/bacterial infection. It’s definitely possible, though also possible it was a coincidence from something else, like something you ate (dairy, veg oil, gluten, sugar, etc.).

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