What is the Role of Diet and Supplements in Skin Disorders?

There is a plethora of literature that is continuously published on the role of nutritional agents and skin conditions. The different agents include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, diets, and gluten. 

A new study by researchers from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi, India, did a review of 150 studies looking at the link between diet, nutrition, and dermatological health. 

The review was published in the JCD: The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, which reported that a lot of the evidence is based on association or laboratory studies rather than on randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard for medical research. 

“The lack of comparison of nutritional or dietary modification with conventional validated agents makes the data difficult to translate in real-world patient management,” say the authors.

The researchers found varying levels of evidence for significant associations of:

  • A low glycemic diet with acne.
  • Fish oil and weight loss with psoriasis.
  • Fish oils and probiotics with atopic dermatitis.
  • Vitamins and botanical extracts with vitiligo.

Most of the role of diet in skin disorders is at best adjunctive and is not disease-modifying according to the authors. 

Some of the supplements that the authors referred to as having promising results in preliminary studies are: 

  • The use of nicotinamide in the prevention of nonmelanoma skin cancer in people with a history of skin cancer. 
  • The use of prebiotics and probiotics in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, although we have a number of randomized controlled trials, translating the results of these trials to actual patient care has been challenging because the trials have used different doses, types, and duration of supplement treatment. 
  • The use of zinc supplements for the treatment of acne — some preliminary studies have shown benefit, but again, with so many different forms, doses, and durations, it’s hard to translate the studies into practical treatment recommendations.”

The authors are concerned about the quality of supplements that companies are marketing. No diet can be considered disease-modifying according to the review study. 

“Notably,” they write, “there are various unapproved combinations, which are licensed as food supplements, making their composition and rationale difficult to discern in skin disorders.”


Robby Berman (2021, Dec 28). Diet, nutrition, and skin conditions: What’s the evidence? Medical News Today. Retrieved from: 


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