In general, the most effective way to use beta carotene for acne is to take dietary supplements, usually in capsule form, though it’s important to follow the recommended dosage guidelines carefully. Beta carotene is a type of carotenoid, which is a naturally-occurring pigmentation element — it’s the reason carrots are such a vibrant shade of orange, for instance, and is what gives grapefruits their bright pink flesh — but, unlike most other pigmentation nutrients, it is also converted to retinoid in the human liver. Retinoid is the form of vitamin A responsible for skin health and cell elasticity, among other things, and is what you need abundantly if you’re hoping to relieve acne. It’s also possible to eat a diet rich in foods that naturally contain beta carotene, though this can be less predictable and may not produce results as quickly. Vitamin A is important for optimal health, though it is possible to get too much. Overdoses are rare, but can be quite serious; using beta carotene as a substitute for pure vitamin supplements can avoid this risk. Still, it’s usually a good idea to take supplements in moderation, and to talk with a doctor or other medical professional before beginning a supplementation regimen to talk through any more personalized risks you may face.
Understanding Beta Carotene Generally
Beta carotene is a complex carbon-based molecule with the chemical formula C40H56 that is present in many plants, including a range of widely available fruits and vegetables. It does not naturally contain vitamin A, though it is somewhat unique in that it will convert to useable forms of that vitamin during digestion. This is of particular interest to many acne sufferers because vitamin A is essential to skin regeneration, but taking the vitamin in its raw form can be dangerous.
Many people who have chronic skin outbreaks have a chemical deficiency of the vitamin in their systems, and if this is your situation, taking a prescription drug with controlled amounts of the pure vitamin may be your best option. Otherwise, simply supplementing with beta carotene can produce similar results without as many of the risks. Excessive amounts of beta carotene are usually flushed out of the body before they’re converted, though it’s still a good idea to moderate ingestion to avoid other potentially unpleasant side effects.
Why it Works for Acne
Vitamin A plays a number of important roles in the body, particularly when it comes to skin, hair, and nail health. It promotes cellular regeneration and prevents premature cell death and sloughing, among other things, and often plays a role in pore health, too; a number of studies have also linked it to regulated oil levels. Acne has a number of causes, but excessive skin oil paired with clogged pores, often from dead skin cells, are prominently on the list. Many topical acne creams and face washes contain pure retinol for this reason. Applying beta carotene to the skin won’t usually have the same effect since it has to first be converted to retinol during digestion, but swallowing beta carotene pills or eating foods rich in this nutrient can being noticeable relief.
The most direct way to use beta carotene for acne is to take a supplement, usually in pill form but sometimes available as a loose powder, too. You can also find this nutrient in other supplements, including fish oil capsules. Concentrations vary, which makes it very important to read the labels carefully. Even though beta carotene is a natural compound, it isn’t always safe for everyone to take, especially not in high concentrations. If you’re taking other medications or supplements it’s really important that you talk to a medical professional like a doctor or pharmacist to learn about potential interactions.
Choosing Nutrient-Rich Foods
Another method is to simply increase the servings of beta carotene-rich food you consume. Carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and most squash are all excellent sources of the chemical. In most cases, though, your body will not be able to absorb all of the nutrients from every serving, which makes this method less precise and predictable than supplementation.
Some people prefer to juice a few carrots or similar vegetables and drink that instead. There is some evidence that the body retains more nutrients from juiced vegetables than chewed ones, though this can depend on a number of factors. No matter how you choose to consume them, the key is usually in consistency: you’ll need to add these foods to your diet every day, and stick with it for a long time, usually a few weeks or months, before you’re likely to start seeing results.