Peanut Butter and Acne: 5 Reasons to Quit This Acne Trigger

peanut butter

Delicious peanut butter… an acne trigger disguised as a health food!

Peanut butter tastes ridiculously amazing, right?

Nothing quite like the salty, peanutty taste…

Reese’s peanut butter cups, PB&J’s, Thai peanut sauce… even “ants on a log.”

So good.

And amazingly, you can trace the roots of a jar of Jif back to the Aztecs. They were grinding peanuts into a paste well before Shakespeare was in diapers.

But right now, I’m going to give you 5 reasons to avoid this potentially acne-causing food. That’s right, peanut butter can trigger acne!

I know, it’s a bummer… but I do have a few nutty alternatives for you at the end.

First, let’s see if there’s anything actually healthy about peanut butter.

What Are the Health Benefits of Peanut Butter?

Actually, peanut butter seems like a pretty healthy food, if you squint your eyes and don’t look too closely.

Peanut butter is pretty fatty. Two tablespoons of peanut butter has about 16 grams of fat.

19% of the fat is saturated, which is the most stable form of fat, and easiest for your cells to break down for energy. No complaints there, especially if you’re hip to the fact that saturated fat doesn’t actually cause heart disease.

It’s got a lot of monounsaturated fat, and is a pretty good source of protein, vitamin B3 and vitamin E, magnesium, and folate, and it even contains resveratrol (although grapes and wine are much better sources of that).

Monounsaturated fat is great for your skin, and a couple studies have found that eating nuts, and monounsaturated fat in general, lowers cholesterol levels.[1] [2]

Peanut butter also contains an antioxidant called coumarin, which theoretically could be good for acne. Antioxidants in general protect against oxidative stress, which is a big criminal in the acne process.

So we’ve got monounsaturated fat, protein, vitamins, magnesium, even antioxidants.

Sounds pretty good, right?

But when we dive in deeper, we’ll see why peanuts are pulling the wool over our eyes, at least for us acne sufferers.

Peanut Butter is a Health Food Fraud for Acne Sufferers

Peanut butter has 5 major problems that could make it trigger acne for you.

Let’s dive in! Get ready to say goodbye to your little friend, peanut butter…

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Big Problem #1: Omega-6 Fatty Acids (TONS)

Peanut butter is pretty fatty. In two tablespoons, you get 16 grams of fat. 50% of that is monounsaturated, 19% saturated (no complaints there), but 31% is polyunsaturated.[3] No bueno!

Excess omega-6 fats can trigger acne. In a bad way.

Here’s why:

Omega-6 fats are generally responsible for triggering inflammation. (Specifically, the omega-6 arachidonic acid, or AA, does this.) That means they start the inflammation process in your body. So when you get a clogged pore, a sebaceous gland might rupture, causing a sort of “internal wound” in your body, and your immune system rushes in to save the day.

Your body uses omega-6 fats to produce cytokines and prostaglandins, which start inflammation, signaling immune cells to rush in and clean up the mess.[4]

Problem is, if you have way too much omega-6 fat in your body (by eating foods like peanut butter), your body has trouble stopping inflammation. That’s because omega-3s are required to halt inflammation. (Specifically, DHA.)

Remember, omega-6s start inflammation, omega-3s stop it.

If you had an ideal omega-6:3 ratio (between 1:1 or 4:1, researchers think), your body would launch a strong inflammatory attack against the wound, clean it up, then cease inflammation quickly.

But if you don’t have a good balance – the average American, for example, has more like a 20:1 ratio of omega-6:3 – then you’re likely to get what’s called systemic inflammation. That is, your body’s under a more-or-less constant state of low-grade inflammation.

That’s going to make for red, swollen, painful pimples that stick around for a long time!

So back to peanut butter – why is it a problem?

Let’s say you eat two tablespoons of peanut butter for a snack. That’s a whopping 4.5g of omega-6. It’s pretty hard to get that ideal omega 6:3 ratio of 1:1, or even 4:1, when you’re packing down that much omega-6 from peanut butter.

Most of that omega-6 is LA (linoleic acid), which the body can convert to AA (arachidonic acid), which is what triggers inflammation.[5] .

Even worse, besides the systemic inflammation problem, omega-6 fats are highly unstable (like ticking time bombs, in a way).

They react with heat and oxygen extremely easily in the body. They form “zombie fats” that then zombify other PUFAs, triggering a chain-reaction zombie outbreak of peroxidized fatty acids, which eventually break down into toxins like malondialdehyde (MDA) that can damage the fundamental structures of basically any cell in your body.[6]

Your immune system already has a really big job keeping you free of invaders – and its not going to be able to do that as well if it also has to deal with a constant supply of damaging zombie fats.

Even worse… SIBO!

To add insult to injury, eating lots of omega-6 fat tends to promote what’s called “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth” (SIBO). That’s where your small intestine gets colonized by a ton of bad bacteria. It’s not supposed to have many bacteria (compared to the colon / large intestine), but in SIBO things get way out of hand.

SIBO can worsen acne, because all those bacteria tend to (obnoxiously) spew out a bunch of toxins as they go about their lives. They literally spew out toxic bacteria poop. That can worsen systemic inflammation, tax your immune system, and lead to vitamin deficiencies.[7] [8]

Okay, high levels of omega-6 are a good enough reason to avoid peanut butter, right?

But wait, there’s more!

Bad Problem #2: Peanut Agglutinin

Peanuts contain a lectin (a kind of protein) called peanut agglutinin.[9]

In general, lectins are found in grains and legumes, and can cause a variety of digestive problems. Peanut agglutinin is no exception.

That’s bad news for your skin!

Peanut agglutinin enters the bloodstream quickly after eating. [10] In fact, it’s very likely that peanut lectin increases intestinal permeability. In other words, it opens up the holes in your intestinal wall slightly, making it easier for food particles to pass through into your bloodstream.

That’s not supposed to happen! Intact food particles are not supposed to pass through your intestinal wall into your bloodstream. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. That’s how people develop autoimmune conditions, food allergies, and systemic inflammation.[10]

This is also known as “leaky gut,” which in general compromises your immune system, making it a lot more difficult for your body to fight the everyday fights, like clearing and healing clogged pores before they develop into full-blown inflamed pimple disasters.

So again, peanut agglutinin may contribute to leaky gut, leading to potentially systemic inflammation and autoimmunity, and worsened acne.

Ready for #3?

Bad Problem #3: Aflatoxin, or Attack of the Toxic Fungus Poop

Aflatoxin is a toxin created by molds (fungi) of the Aspergillus genus. While a direct link to acne has not been established, aflatoxin is a known contributor to liver cancer, kidney cancer, malnutrition, and birth defects.[11]

Peanut butter, along with corn, is one of the top dietary sources of aflatoxin.

Now peanut butter is actually one of better ways to consume peanuts. The peanut-butter-making process reduced aflatoxin by 89% in one study.

That said, another study found that the crappy brands of peanut butter (like Jif) have way less aflatoxin, while the grind-it-yourself peanut butter in natural food stores had the most aflatoxin. Bummer of an irony, right?

The jury’s still out on whether the levels of aflatoxin in peanut butter are dangerous, but in my book, it’s not worth the risk. Especially given the other problems with peanut butter (omega-6 and leaky gut).

Bad Problem #4: Peanut Butter Is Delicious And Addictive

Let’s face it.

It’s hard to eat a small amount of peanut butter!

It’s just so dang good, it begs to be wolfed down, spoon after spoon. I don’t know if you’ve ever put away ¼ or ½ jar in one sitting, but I have. And I can tell you… that was a fart disaster. And yes, it gave me a few pimples as well.

Peanut butter is what I would classify as a “domino food” – a food that you just have a hard time stopping eating. Once you pop, the eatin’ don’t stop.

If this isn’t true for you – if you regularly eat only 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter a day or less – then I’d challenge to quit peanut butter because of reasons #1, 2, and 3 above.

Bad Problem #5: Peanut Butter’s Evil Sidekicks – Sugar and Gluten

The most insidious problem with peanut butter might not actually be peanut butter itself, but the fact that it’s almost always packing those evil sidekicks, sugar and gluten.

A lot of lower-quality peanut butter (like Jif) is made with hydrogenated oils and sugar. The hydrogenated oils keep the fat from separating, and the sugar, obviously, makes it sweet (and more addictive). Hydrogenated oils are bad for acne for the same “zombie fat” reason described above in #1. And sugar is one of the top four worst foods for acne, leading to inflammation, glycation, clogged pores, producing too much sebum, and a compromised immune system.

Even if you get “natural” peanut butter, you likely don’t eat peanut butter by itself. I’m guessing you eat it with with jam (tons of sugar) and bread (gluten, another one of the top four worst foods for acne).

Are you the type that only eats a small amount of peanut butter on a banana, avoiding the jam and bread entirely? High-five! I still challenge you to quit peanut butter for reasons #1-3 above. 🙂

Is Peanut Butter Really That Bad?

Let’s put it this way. It’s not the worst food you could eat for acne. Milk and dairy, vegetable oil, sugar, and gluten are worse.

But I think peanut butter is a big enough issue that it’s just adding fuel to the fire.

Why risk eating peanut butter when there are tasty, healthier options like almond butter and cashew butter?

And peanut butter is such a simple taste anyway… it’s totally one-dimensional and boring, once you’ve lived without it for a while. It’s like Cheetos, in a way – it just screams “PEANUTS!” and nothing else. Almond butter, in comparison, tastes way more complex and satisfying (in this author’s opinion).

(Note: a few folks have reported that they DO react to almond butter and cashew butter (read: it makes them break out), while they do NOT react to peanut butter. It just goes to show that any general prescription will never apply to everyone, and that you really need to test foods on yourself. We still don’t recommend eating a ton of peanut butter, generally speaking, because of the reasons outlined above. In our opinion, it’s not really a health food.)

What About Peanuts?

Same problems as peanut butter. And loads more aflatoxin to boot, since they don’t benefit from the aflatoxin-reducing process of peanut-butter-making.

Will a few peanuts make you break out? Probably not.

That said, I wouldn’t make them a regular part of your diet. In the day-to-day, I’d say better to avoid!

Clear Skin Friendly Alternatives

Try almond butter or cashew butter. The honest-to-goodness best almond butter I’ve ever had in my life is made by a farm in California called Zinke Orchards. I’m not affiliated with them in any way – it’s just freaking amazing almond butter. Look ‘em up.

BTW, go a little easy on the nut butters. Stick to 1-2 tablespoons a day. That’s because most nuts, including almonds, are relatively high in omega-6 fats.

(Truth be told, I actually don’t keep almond butter around the house, because it’s a huge domino food for me. I can’t stop myself just scarfing down disgusting amounts of it. That’s a huge load of omega-6 that I’d rather not be eating. And it displaces other healthier foods like grass-fed beef, vegetables, and fruit. But that’s just me – Sonia, for example, has no trouble with it!)

Key Takeaways

  1. Peanut butter has tons of omega-6 fat, which can lead to wild, rampant inflammation (and red, swollen pimples that stick around for a long time).
  2. Peanut agglutinin can lead to leaky gut and inflammation, thereby worsening acne.
  3. Peanut butter is delicious and addictive, and it’s hard to eat just a small amount, multiplying the problems.
  4. Peanut butter often comes along with bread and jam (gluten and sugar), two of the worst foods for acne!
  5. There are much healthier alternatives like almond butter and cashew butter.
  6. That said, peanut butter is not the worst food in the world for your skin. If you haven’t cut out dairy, sugar, gluten, and vegetable oil yet, do those first.
  7. If you haven’t checked out our master guide yet, have a gander. It’s the sum total of all our acne-blitzing knowledge in one easy-to-read, downloadable e-book. Get the book now.

About Devin Mooers

Devin MooersHey! Over the past 10 years, I've developed a powerful system for clearing acne with a little-known diet- and lifestyle-based method, and I want to spread the love. That's why I started Clear Skin Forever back in 2011. I studied engineering and product design at Stanford University, and graduated in the top 5% of my class, but afterward, I decided to focus on writing about health, since I found it so fulfilling to help people clear their acne for good. Thanks for reading, and sign up for email updates to stay in the loop with clear skin tips! Also, be sure to check out our book if you haven't yet, all about how to fix acne permanently with diet and lifestyle changes. We've helped thousands of people get clear skin this way!

Sources (click to expand)

  1. Kris-etherton PM, Pearson TA, Wan Y, et al. High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1009-15. ^
  2. Lee YJ, Nam GE, Seo JA, et al. Nut consumption has favorable effects on lipid profiles of Korean women with metabolic syndrome. Nutr Res. 2014;34(9″:814-20. ^
  3. Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Peanuts, all types, oil-roasted, with salt ^
  4. Ballantyne S. The Paleo Approach, Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. Victory Belt Publishing; 2014. ^
  5. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Peanut oil. Available at: Accessed October 14, 2014 ^
  6. Precious Yet Perilous. Masterjohn, Chris. Available at: Accessed October 14, 2014. ^
  7. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Available at: Accessed October 14, 2014. ^
  8. Lykova EA, Bondarenko VM, Parfenov AI, Matsulevich TV. Bacterial overgrowth syndrome in the small intestine: pathogenesis, clinical significance and therapy tactics. Eksp Klin Gastroenterol. 2005;(6):51-7, 113. ^
  9. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Peanut agglutinin. Available at: Accessed October 14, 2014. ^
  10. Wang Q, Yu LG, Campbell BJ, Milton JD, Rhodes JM. Identification of intact peanut lectin in peripheral venous blood. Lancet. 1998;352(9143):1831-2. ^
  11. Mupunga I, Lebelo SL, Mngqawa P, Rheeder JP, Katerere DR. Natural occurrence of aflatoxins in peanuts and peanut butter from bulawayo, zimbabwe. J Food Prot. 2014;77(10):1814-8. ^


  1. Idara says

    Awesome post! I love adding coconut oil to my steamed vegetables and my smoothies. I tried it on my face and found out the hard way that it breaks me out. But I haven’t had that issue with hemp and grapeseed oil.

  2. Idara Hampton says

    Thank you for explaining epigenetics so clearly. It’s very easy to follow. Congrats on clearing your skin. Your story is inspiring.

  3. Idara says

    This is such a well researched and well written article. B5 is great for the skin. I also love B6 and B12 for boosting energy, promoting a healthy luteal phase, and stopping PMS.

  4. Idara says

    Great post! Understanding hormonal imbalances isn’t always easy, so thank you for writing an informative and easy to follow article with helpful tips.

  5. wendy says

    There is no official link between iron and acne in science research but antidotally I believe there is. My daughter used prescription acne creams for a couple of years with only modest improvements to her skin. She recently was prescribed an iron supplement, her iron levels were on the low side of normal, because of her low energy state and, voila, Not only does she feel more energetic, her face is very noticeably improved and much smoother in, just days. She is a big meat eater. Who knew iron can be hard to absorb?

  6. Srey says

    I love this post! I recommend this book “inheritance” by Sharon D Moalem. It talks a lot about genetics, and could be helpful to understand more about epi genetics, and our human genome.

  7. Mike says

    Why do you say that coffee negatively affects muscle since there is like a bunch of evidence that shows the caffeine from the coffee actually helps build muscle and burn fat. Of course this is when you take black coffee without any sweeteners. I have read so many articles that talk about consuming coffee in a fasted state leading to positive muscle gains you can find them easily too

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Mike! Interesting point here. I found this study:

      …Which says that you habituate to the caffeine in a few days’ time, meaning your morning coffee no longer stimulates over-production of cortisol once you adapt to drinking coffee daily. However, the study still found that a 1:00 PM cup of coffee boosted cortisol levels higher than normal (though the study only ran for 5 days of caffeine habituation). My personal experience is that coffee just makes me more stressed out in response to stressful events, which includes cortisol release. But I haven’t read the articles you have about fasted-state coffee drinking leading to muscle gains – I wonder if this is just due to metabolic rate increase from the caffeine? In any case, if coffee floats your boat and treats you well, go for it!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Julie! I’m not totally sure on this. That still sounds like a good range. I was going based on a Dr. Mercola article, which I can no longer find (the link is broken). I am far from an expert on what ideal ferritin levels should be!

    • Rhonda says

      I will interject with a personal anecdote about Ferritin levels. I have a genetic disorder called Hemachromatosis. It causes iron from the food I eat to get into my organs and my body can only release it through phlebotomy (donating blood). My Dr noticed a high ferritin level and high liver enzymes on a blood panel and on a hunch she ordered a DNA test for this. If you are suspicious that your ferritin levels are out of whack, ask for this test. This condition is very common especially if you are of Irish or Scottish descent. It’s a lifelong condition but the remedy is easy because you just have to have your levels checked regularly and donate a pint of blood to balance your levels. I am so grateful my doc was smart enough to call for this test. Having this disorder and not taking care of it can lead to liver damage and heart attack. It’s hereditary and if you do have it, all of your nearest relatives should test for it too. Hoping it’s not the case for you, and wishing you all the best!

      • Devin Mooers says

        Kudos to your doc for finding this!! I’m so glad you know now. I had a genetic test done a few years ago, and ruled out hemachromatosis (at least current knowledge of it). So I guess it was just from my diet. And I do have a fair amount of Irish + Scottish in me. Go figure! Great thing to check for, though, as you just found out!

  8. Katy says

    I’m 25 and I have very irregular periods (which have never been regular) and acne since puberty. I got literally all my hormones checked and everything came out normal. Does anyone have an explanation for this?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Katy! I don’t put much stock in hormonal tests, blood tests, saliva tests, or related “snapshot” health tests. I don’t think they’re a very accurate reflection of long-term reality, and don’t often give very useful information for clearing acne (in my experience). The fact that you have irregular periods right away shows that something’s up with your hormone levels, and/or some basic nutrient levels like vitamin A, utilizable iron (don’t go taking iron pills though!), and/or maybe some toxin overload issues. There are lots of things that feed into having a normal cycle, and a hormone test isn’t going to tell you what needs to be fixed.

      Are you drinking fluoridated water, do you know?

      Also, do you want to give an overview of what your current diet is – the more detail the better! – and any pills/supplements you’re taking? I can see if anything jumps out!

  9. Johnny Cox says

    Hi. Im going to say that Im afraid to eat coconut because of acne. Chocolate of any kind gives me acne too. Even fish oil. All these oils do it to me. I used to suspect leaky gut causing me breakouts. All these oils ruin my skin. Whey concentrate and isolate too! Someone said “keep eating the Extra Virgin Coconut oil, It’s just die-off!! It will stop soon” But it does not stop. I get brutal acne from it. Tempted to try again after reading this, but it scares me. My acne is so painful..

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Johnny! Really sorry to hear about your experience with so many oils/fats giving you acne. Huge bummer! Frustrating not to know whether it’s from die-off or detox, or just an adverse reaction. (I will say that whey isolate/concentrate both give me acne as well!)

      Couple questions… are you using organic coconut oil, or non-organic?

      Also, do you want to post a mini diet overview right here? I can see if any major red flags come up.

      Finally, are you drinking fluoridated tap water? (And/or using fluoride toothpaste?) Wondering if these fats/oils might be causing a detoxification of fluoride, causing transient acne.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Ashley! I think it’s okay in really small amounts as a garnish or flavoring, but it’s very high in PUFA so I wouldn’t make it a main cooking or salad oil. Toasted sesame seed oil is even a bit more risky because of the toasting process damaging more of the PUFA (and the protective vitamin E found in raw sesame oil).

      What are you wanting to use sesame oil for? Maybe I can suggest a skin-friendly alternative!

  10. Kris says

    Hi Devin,
    Great research, thank you for linking the sources. I’ve suffered with back acne for years. I eat a mostly plant based diet, so I’d call myself a flexitarian (95% plants, 5% grass fed-organic animal). Before that I did mostly Paleo, therefore lots of fresh plants, but still a lot of organic meat/poultry.
    From recent testing, I have low iron stores (ferritin), normal iron (since I suppliment), and low iodine (I now supplement—-boyfriend has shellfish allergy…). I take vitamine A and Magnesium as well.
    I’m game to try anything thats humane and organic even if its not a plant based suppliment, but I would be interested in the Frankin-rice you mentioned since I try to avoid dairy due to an intolerance (causes me inflammation and IgG testing shows markers). If the colostrum is derived from cows or colostrum is from humans, wouldn’t in theory the human one be closer to what we need? Albeit odd to consider!!
    I’ve also looked for a non-bovine ferritin supplement, but it seems I may need to take the bovine one as the plant ones are just more iron (leading to excess). I just want to be humane in my choices, with no added hormones from the cows, etc. With all that said—I’m open to anything—as my skin and other health issues are the number one priority! Any product tips would be greatly appreciated. I use Pure Encapsulations too. 😊 Thank you!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Kris! Sorry for the epic delay on this, I haven’t checked blog comments in a long time. My fault!

      How low is your ferritin? Did you get liver enzymes checked? It’s quite possible to have low ferritin, but also have an overload of unusable iron stored up in your liver. Taking additional iron supplements on top of that, if that’s the case, isn’t a very good idea. Liver enzymes (and/or GGT) can help point to iron overload in the liver. (See my iron article for more info on tests.)

      What kind of iron are you supplementing with?

      Doubt you’ll find human-sourced colostrum, though it’s an interesting idea! 🙂

      Are you interested in lactoferrin for reducing your iron levels, or for boosting your ferritin? There are definitely other, more effective ways of modulating ferritin, I think (see the iron article linked above for way more info on all the iron stuff, including why I think many people may have an iron overload problem even if ferritin levels don’t show it). I’d target the iron-utilization-boosting nutrients listed in the iron article, personally.

      Also, how much iodine are you taking? What form?

      Finally, have you thought about A2 milk as a skin-safe dairy option, that would give you some lactoferrin in a whole food form?

  11. Donna says

    I actually test low for iron. My Tibc, Total Iron, Iron Saturation, and Ferritin are all low.
    It was recommended for me to take Lactoferrin with an iron supplement to properly increase my iron.
    I’m confused about your article because it makes me second guess my situation. You don’t believe ANYONE is actually low in iron?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Donna! How low are we talking on these numbers?

      I definitely think there are a small number of people who are actually low in iron, but I think it’s probably a lot fewer people than most doctors think. Often, if you have iron dysregulation, excess iron gets stored up in your liver, which doesn’t show up one these blood tests. If you’re lacking in one of the co-factors necessary to use iron properly (vitamin A, molybdenum, vitamin C, copper, ceruloplasmin, vitamin B12, etc.), you can get excess iron deposits in the liver combined with low circulating iron. When you add a plain iron supplement on top of that, without addressing the deficient co-factors, you can worsen the problem. Did you happen to get your liver enzymes and/or GGT tested? That can sometimes indicate excess iron storage in the liver. But keep in mind I have zero clinical experience in all this and just going based on the all the research I’ve read (and my own iron overload problem).

  12. jay,s says

    hi, suffering from acne for 20 years and a rediculolus amount of money spent on “solutions”i tried a newer supplement that’s called acne block that contains lactoferrin,found it on amazon.. it actually was/is one of the only supplements I have tried that actually helped..

    • Devin Mooers says

      Great to hear you got good results from lactoferrin! The science is sound behind why it works, helping to reduce iron overload. Good stuff.

  13. Sara says

    Would eating liver or taking a dessicated liver supplement cause iron overload? I would like to get more vitamin A, but am concerned about the extra iron I would be getting.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Sara! Wise to be cautious about this. Do you have reason to suspect you have existing iron overload? Curious about that, I’ve suspected that in myself for a while now, and have been avoiding liver for that reason. I’m taking Pure Encapsulations vitamin A instead.

    • Sarah says

      Suggesting vegans/Vegetarians have a greater risk of iron deficiency is incorrect. There are at least as many meat-eaters as vege people deficient in Iron. Meat is not an efficient source of iron for human beings. Cutting out animal products goes along way in clearing up acne.

      • Devin Mooers says

        Hey Sarah! I actually agree with your first point now, but differ in the second. I think many people, vegeterians and meat-eaters, have an iron overload problem. This is pretty new to me, but the research seems sound. Turns out you can have anemia AND iron overload, due to iron getting deposited in your liver, but a lack of nutrients that are required to put iron into hemoglobin, like vitamin C, vitamin A, molybdenum, and copper. I also think the research strongly points to heme iron from meat being an excellent source of iron – much more absorbable than plant iron – but I now think eating too much meat leads to iron overload, because your body can’t shut off absorption from heme iron like it can from plant iron. If you’re curious to learn more, I just posted a huge article on iron and acne two days ago:

        Iron and Acne

        I think this is really an unusual perspective, and the opposite of what most people will tell you! Curious to hear your thoughts! 🙂 (I’m actually eating mostly vegetarian these days, due to trying to reverse my iron overload problem, and, yes, the environmental impact.)

  14. Taylor says

    So if I maintain a Paleo/Whole 30 diet that includes high quality meats and seafoods and I do not eat any of the iron-fortified foods or foods that inhibit lactoferrin – my body should be creating lactoferrin on it’s own in a healthy manner and I likely do not need to supplement it, correct?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Yep, exactly! Historical iron overload can be an issue, less so for menstruating women due to the continual iron dumping outlet. Bloodletting was effective back in the day for many diseases due to iron removal! Men don’t have such a built-in iron removal system (perhaps explaining why men tend to live shorter lives than women – iron buildup!). I’m not 100% sure how effective lactoferrin supplementation is for addressing built-up iron overload. Morley Robbins ( is the guy to read about on all the iron issues.

  15. Christina says

    I’m confused. I was just about to purchase some FCLO for my teen daughter to help her with her acne and now I stumbled across your reply where you state you no longer recommend FCLO! Why the change?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Christina! Sorry about the confusion here – I wish we could keep the same recommendations forever, but our knowledge (and the science, and reader experience, etc.) forces us to change our recommendations now and then, and it’s hard to change everywhere all at once! We changed this recommendation because FCLO is basically pure PUFA (polyunsaturated fat), which is more susceptible to lipid peroxidation than other fats, and this is a major contributor to acne, we now believe (lipid peroxidation). The vitamin A in FCLO tends to be very beneficial, but you can get that vitamin A from eating liver, taking desiccated liver capsules, or taking a vitamin A supplement such as this one by Pure Encapsulations. We now think it’s best to reduce the total body load of PUFA as much as possible, rather than trying to boost omega-3s, for instance. Does this make sense?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Sam! That’s actually a really good idea. We currently do not recommend taking FCLO or cod liver oil – we’ve updated our book but haven’t found the time yet to update our cod liver oil blog post – we’ll do that soon! We recommend taking desiccated liver capsules or eating grass-fed liver regularly, or taking a vitamin A supplement like this one:

      Pure Encapsulations Vitamin A 10,000 IU

      Taking vitamin E is a great PUFA defense strategy when you’re eating out at restaurants or for some reason consume a large amount of PUFA. We’re working on a “PUFA Shield” supplement that incorporates full-spectrum E along with some other lipid peroxidation blockers to make it easier for travelers, folks who eat out a lot, etc. to avoid the worst PUFA effects on acne.

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