Acne and Hair Heavy Metals

This may be completely unrelated to acne or it may be, but for the sake of data integrity I think it is important to include it.

Test Date: 2/19/2014


Acne is typically correlated with lower levels of antioxidants, so theoretically acne patients could be more susceptible to heavy metal toxicity.  This goes to stress the importance of getting your own lab-work done as you never know what you may find personalized to you. Heavy metal toxicity is becoming very legitimately recognized.  Mercury and lead have serious established side effects.  Hair uranium is correlated with increased risk of cancer, as is its isotope, radon.  Vitamin C is an intelligent precaution to take, but there is really no reason to take more than 500 milligrams at once since the body doesn’t absorb much more than 500 mg at a time.

Lesson of the story: get personalized data, you will be glad you did.


Acne: Copper or Zinc?

Test Date: January 20th, 2014

# of lesions: 10

2014-04-04 17.21.34

2014-04-04 17.22.06


2014-04-04 17.22.58


Unfortunately I have taken zinc and copper supplement or eaten beef liver intermittently for a long time, so the zinc and copper levels are not organic data.  I think acne patients would be wise to test zinc and copper.  On a hair metals analysis my copper levels far exceeded zinc, which would make sense as previously I consumed a regular multivitamin (2mg copper per day) plus weekly beef liver (12 mg copper per slice) would lead towards copper excess.  I will post that test soon.

Keep in mind that the recommended balance is 15mg zinc per 1 mg copper, as both antagonize each other.  Balance is crucial.

Vitamin D is at a good level. I have not found a correlation between vitamin D and acne, although theoretically it could give a small benefit.

Magnesium should be on the higher end of the reference range, as in upper half.  I have often been magnesium deficient.  Shoot for RBC levels above 5.

Magnesium has insulin sensitizing effects (anti-diabetic), so it will help acne some.  Every 5 or 10% decrease helps.  It also reduces anxiety and is involved in 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, so don’t go without.  The best forms are gylcinate or citrate, and magnesium oxide (the most common form) is very poorly absorbed.

Subject #2: Fatty Acids Revisited

*We are working on a better format for this website.  In short it is a collection of lab tests aimed at identifying the root cause of acne.  Technically these posts are meant to be read from the oldest to the newest, as that is the order that I got them in.

Subject #2: Male, 17 years old

# of Lesions: Unknown, he went on accutane earlier in the year, and acne returned

Diet/Supplements/Medication: Diet high in fruits and vegetables, lower in fats


Subject 2 was deficient in Nervonic Acid, Vaccenic Acid, Arachidic Acid, Erucic Acid (Docosenoic Acid), and Docosapentanoic acid (an elongated form of the better known omega-3: EPA).

Vaccenic Acid shows up once again. Vaccenic Acid is found in ruminant fat, so eating more animal fat seems to be smart, given the current data.  This will also lead to satiety and reduce low blood sugar episodes, as fats tend to keep blood sugar more stable.  And if you are going to drink milk, make damn sure it is not skim milk.

Deficient in  Docosapentanoic Acid.  This fatty acid seems to have some interesting benefits, but is not well known yet.
The article above shows that it is responsible for inhibiting inflammatory metabolites of Arachidonic Acid, so theoretically it could be quite beneficial for acne.

Acne and… Gamma Linolenic Acid? or Vaccenic Acid?

Fatty Acid Dec. 2013 cropped

Gamma-Linolenic Acid is on the low side.

This comes after 3 months of taking 3 grams of spirulina daily, which has 30 mg of Gamma-Linolenic Acid.  On an anecdotal basis, GLA has changed skin texture for the better over the course of 2 months.  Skin seems to retain moisture better, as ridiculous as it sounds.

Vaccenic acid was low.  Data show that acne comes from high-carb diets that tend to lack various fatty acids:

Here is a new study on GLA/Fish oil and acne

Leave it to the Koreans to finally conduct much-needed studies.

Fatty Acids– My biggest find so far!


While there are many factors to acne, fatty acids have been the biggest boon.

EPA (the omega 3 found in fish/fish oil) and Arachidonic acid were abnormally low.   EPA is low due to poor antioxidant status (probably), and the arachidonic acid is low, perhaps due to the rapid conversion to prostaglandins and other Arachidonic acid metabolites.

Oct.-Dec. 2014: Gluten-Free Diet, Multi with Zinc and Copper, Broad-Based Probiotic, Aged Garlic Extract

There seems to be good evidence that acne correlates or is caused by a fatty acid imbalance.

Micronutrient Test #2: Antioxidants and Acne Revisited

*We are working on a better format for this website.  In short it is a collection of lab tests aimed at identifying the root cause of acne.

Spectracell 2 online

Date: 7/10/13

Lesions: 15

Medications/Diet/Supplements: NAC 1600 mg, Standard Multivitamin, Typical American Diet, Beef Liver 1x per week, Vit. D 5000 IU

There is definitely a correlation with acne, although low antioxidants can also lower Testosterone and DHT, so it could even out.  But in general, acne and low antioxidants tend to correlate in my experience.

It does seem as if this is not the root cause, because simply taking NAC or vitamin E did not do much by way of eliminating acne.

Basic Blood Workup: Correlations We Can Draw





Date: April 18,2013

Number of Lesions: 7

Medications/Diet/Supplements: Zyrtec 10 mg, Vit D, Animal Pak Multivitamin, NAC 1200 mg, Typical Diet with Beef Liver 1x per week

Correlations:  HDL cholesterol and fasting blood glucose correspond to acne. (Lower HDL = more acne) (Higher fasting blood sugar= more acne)

C-reactive Protein did not correlate with acne, as levels were great.  C-reactive Protein is an inflammatory marker.

Acne doesn’t necessarily correspond to testosterone levels necessarily, but it does seem to have some relation to estrogen (estradiol), for whatever reason.

Spectracell #1: Antioxidants have a relationship with Acne

*This site is very new, so bear with me as I get a better format.  All the tests are in chronological order, so ideally start from the oldest posts and work your way back!

Test Date: 1/25/2013

Number of Lesions at time of test: 13


  • Beginning Gluten-free diet (otherwise Standard American Diet)
  • Viibryd (SSRI) 20 mg.
  • Zyrtec 10 mg most days
  • Animal Pak multivitamin (contains ginseng)
  • vitamin D 5000 IUs
  • B-12 1000 mcg.

Spectracell Jan 2013 online (Click to see blood test results – pdf form)

Retinol (Vitamin A) and acne:
Retinol Binding Protein may be a smart blood test to get done (I have not had a serum vitamin A test yet, but would be interested in results).
Started eating calf liver weekly due to the semi-low levels of Retinol after this test.

There are quite a few studies on low levels of antioxidants and acne.
Here is one discussing the low glutathione and acne:
By simply taking antioxidants there is very little benefit to acne, although as antioxidant status declines acne increases (over time).

After this test and discontinuation of Viibryd the antioxidant levels diminished (6 months later).

Food Allergy Panel: Stopping Gluten doesn’t Cure Zits

Test Date: 1/7/2013

Number of Lesions: Around 15 (Face and Upper Neck)


  • Vit. D 5000 IUs
  • Viibryd 20mg (SSRI)-(it can have antioxidant effects, as well as hormonal effects, thus affecting acne)
  • Animal Pak multivitamin
  • Zyrtec 10 mg for allergies as needed


Removing gluten did not eliminate or even decrease acne.  Food allergy panel seems to be a good marker of intestinal health.

There are quite a few websites that emphasize the importance of eliminating gluten in order to clear acne:

In my case eliminating gluten while eating sugary foods instead actually made acne worse over time.  There is lots of evidence for this:

There are some connections between acne and intestinal barrier integrity, but am not yet sure what to make of them or which tests would be best.

Perhaps Urinary Organic Acids would be a good place to start, or a stool analysis, for those interested. Metametrix offers both.

To sum this up, food allergies seem to be indicative of poor intestinal health, but eliminating the problem foods won’t fix acne (in this case).

Baseline Panel 1: Raise your HDL and Clear your Skin

This labwork was done immediately prior to going on accutane.

Test Date: 6/8/2010

Number of lesions: unknown, but acne was moderate-severe (bad enough to warrant Accutane)


  • Standard American Diet
  • No supplements or medication, aside from infrequent zyrtec 10 mg


The main takeaway from this was the low HDL cholesterol.  I was exercising a lot at the time as well, and even with that HDL was quite low.  In most labs the reference range is >40.

Acne and HDL cholesterol levels

Intakes of various forms of fatty acids and their effects on HDL cholesterol: