Acne, Fatty Acids, AND Amino Acids

Test Date: February 2014

# of Lesions: 10

Diet/Supplements/Drugs: Lower Carb, Paleo-ish diet, with milk/Spirulina 50 mg/day for past 6 months (around 30-60 mg GLA per day), vitamin D, Aged Garlic Extract, Magnesium citrate, b12 1 mg)










Even after 6 months of supplementation of GLA the GLA, and more importantly DGLA, were on the very low side. DGLA is the precursor to anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1, and can also be converted into arachidonic acid. There are many checks and balances when it comes to fatty acid metabolism.

The interesting thing to me on this test was the taurine deficiency. All of my fatty acids trended low, and lo and behold taurine is a necessary constituent of bile, which is necessary to break down fats and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K). 1 gram 3x per day is standard dosing, preferably before meals to increase fat absorption.

Taurine is found in seafood and meat, and to synthesize it naturally the body needs the amino acids cysteine and methionine, plus the activated form of vitamin B6, p5p.
Taurine regulates blood sugar as well, and decreases inflammation in obese people. It is an interesting amino acid.

The high Linoleic acid: dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid ratio, even after long term low-dose supplementation of GLA seems to indicate that Delta-6-desaturase enzyme is not converting Linoleic acid to Gamma Linolenic Acid effectively. For this enzyme to function properly the vitamins and minerals zinc, b6, C, and magnesium need to be present. There could also be genetic aspects for the dysfunction.

Gamma Tocopherol was also on the low side. Long term supplementation of Alpha-tocopherol can deplete gamma tocopherol, so supplementing mixed tocopherols or ensuring vitamin E from natural sources is wise.

The copper is low, which in all likelihood is from excessive zinc supplementation. Both are relevant to the acne discussion, and I would recommend that you personally check your plasma levels of both, or do a hair mineral analysis to get personalized recommendations. Rule of thumb is 15 mg zinc per 1 mg of copper.


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: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/

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.

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: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/08/23/acne.aspx.

In my case eliminating gluten while eating sugary foods instead actually made acne worse over time.  There is lots of evidence for this: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/1/107.full

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 levelshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448897

Intakes of various forms of fatty acids and their effects on HDL cholesterol: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/77/5/1146.long