Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Silica, Niacin, Vitamin K2, and Probiotics | Chris Kresser

Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Silica, Niacin, Vitamin K2, and Probiotics

by Chris Kresser

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It’s time to close out my series on nutrition and skin health. I believe that a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, with particular attention paid to certain vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, is a powerful tool in the treatment of skin disease. It’s unfortunate that many mainstream doctors and dermatologists typically deny any connection between diet and skin health, and many patients miss the opportunity to make major improvements in their skin simply by changing what they eat. I hope that this series will give you the evidence you need to make the switch to a skin-supporting diet.

It’s unfortunate that many mainstream dermatologists deny any connection between diet and skin health. Tweet This

In this final article, I will discuss the benefits of four nutrients that can play an important role in improving the look and feel of one’s skin: silica, niacin, vitamin K2, and probiotics. (Yes, probiotics are not a nutrient, but they may be one of the most important parts of a healthy skin diet!)


While silica may not be considered an essential nutrient by current standards, it is likely that this trace mineral plays a functional role in human health. (1) In animals, a silica deficient diet has been shown to produce poorly formed connective tissue, including collagen. In fact, silica has been shown to contribute to certain enzyme activities that are necessary for normal collagen formation. Silica is essential for maintaining the health of connective tissues due to its interaction with the formation of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are structural building blocks of these types of tissue. One well-known GAG important for skin health is hyaluronic acid, which has been shown to promote skin cell proliferation and increase the presence of retinoic acid, improving the skin’s hydration. (2)

Therefore, a deficiency in silica could result in reduced skin elasticity and wound healing due to its role in collagen and GAG formation. As we know, proper collagen formation is essential for maintaining tight, wrinkle-free skin, so silica can also be beneficial for slowing down the signs of skin aging.

It’s best to get silica from natural sources, and food sources of silica include leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb. (3)

Silica can also be found in certain types of water, such as Fiji brand water, which contains more than four times the levels found in other bottled waters due to the leaching of water-soluble silica from volcanic rock. (4) In fact, beverages contribute to more than half of the total dietary intake of silica, and the silica content of water depends entirely on its geological source. Silica can also be found in trace mineral supplements, such as ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops, which can be added to plain drinking water.


Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, plays a vital role in cell metabolism as a coenzyme in energy producing reactions involving the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as anabolic reactions such as fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis. (4) The deficiency of niacin is rare these days, but was fairly common historically due to the reliance on niacin-poor food staples, such as corn and and other cereal grains, in low-income communities. (5) Pellagra, the disease of late stage niacin deficiency, causes a variety of skin symptoms such as dermatitis and a dark, scaly rash. In fact, the word “pellagra” comes from the Italian phrase for rough or raw skin. (6) The skin symptoms are often the first to appear, and may be exacerbated by even a slight deficiency in niacin over a long period of time.

While a low intake of niacin is unlikely, there are some diseases that may cause inadequate niacin absorption from the diet. An example of this is in celiac disease, where absorption is impaired by the swelling and thickening of the intestinal lining that occurs in celiac disease. (7) Other inflammatory gut conditions such as IBS or Crohn’s disease can also lead to a reduction in niacin absorption, and could conceivably lead to the skin-related symptoms of pellagra such as dermatitis and scaling.

Good whole-foods sources of niacin include meat, poultry, red fishes such as tuna and salmon, and seeds. Milk, green leafy vegetables, coffee, and tea also provide some niacin to the diet. Your liver can also convert tryptophan from high-protein foods like meats and milk into niacin. (8)

In the case of true deficiency, supplementation may be necessary, but for most healthy people, a varied diet with adequate meat consumption should be enough to meet one’s nutritional needs.

If choosing to supplement, be sure to consult with a licensed medical professional, as too much nicotinic acid can be harmful.

Vitamin K2

I’ve written before about the incredible health benefits of a diet rich in vitamin K2. Vitamin K2′s role in the body includes protecting us from heart disease, forming strong bones, promoting brain function, supporting growth and development and helping to prevent cancer – to name a few. It performs these functions by helping to deposit calcium in appropriate locations, such as in the bones and teeth, and prevent it from depositing in locations where it does not belong, such as the soft tissues. One of the health benefits of vitamin K2 not often discussed is its role in ensuring healthy skin, and this vitamin is likely beneficial for preventing wrinkling and premature aging.

Adequate dietary vitamin K2 prevents calcification of our skin’s elastin, the protein that gives skin the ability to spring back, smoothing out lines and wrinkles. (9) This is because K2 is necessary for activation of matrix proteins that inhibit calcium from being deposited in elastin fibers and keeping these fibers from hardening and causing wrinkles. In fact, recent research suggests that people who cannot metabolize vitamin K end up with severe premature skin wrinkling. (10) Vitamin K2 is also necessary for the proper functioning of vitamin A- and D- dependent proteins. As I discussed in the first article in this series, vitamin A is essential for proper skin cell proliferation, and cannot work properly if vitamin K2 is not available. Therefore, vitamin K2 is important in the treatment of acne, keratosis pillaris, and other skin symptoms of vitamin A deficiency.

It’s important to get adequate amounts of dietary vitamin K2, particularly if trying to heal the skin or prevent wrinkles. Great sources of vitamin K2 include butter and other high fat dairy products from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, liver, and natto. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and cheese are also quite high in vitamin K2 due to the production of this vitamin by bacteria. It is important to note that commercial butter and other dairy products are not significantly high sources of vitamin K2, as most dairy cattle in our country are fed grains rather than grass. It is the grazing on vitamin K1-rich grasses that leads to high levels of vitamin K2 in the dairy products of animals, so be sure to look for grass-fed dairy products when trying to increase your intake of vitamin K2. (11)


Probiotics are one of the most fascinating areas of modern nutrition research, and a topic I am passionate about. I will be discussing what is known as the “gut-brain-skin” axis during my presentation upcoming at the Weston A. Price Foundation Wise Traditions Conference in November, and have been researching the connection between gut flora and skin conditions for months. While there is a great deal of information on the skin-gut axis, I’ll give a quick summary of the information in this article – the rest you’ll have to see in my presentation in a few months!

The skin-gut axis has been studied since the 1930s, and yet we’re only just beginning to understand the role that probiotics may play in skin health. The ability of the gut microbiota and oral probiotics to influence systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control, and tissue lipid content, may have important implications in skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis. (12) Recent studies have shown that orally consumed pre and probiotics can reduce systemic markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, which may help reduce inflammatory acne and other skin conditions. (1314, 15) There is also a connection between small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and the incidence of acne, suggesting that reestablishing the proper balance of gut microflora is an important factor in treating acne.

There are far more beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria for skin health than I will be able to mention in this article; I will cover the topic much more in-depth at the conference in November.

However, I believe the evidence strongly supports the role of probiotics in treating a variety of skin conditions, and recommend that anyone suffering from skin trouble be especially diligent about including fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir in your regular diet.

Probiotic supplements can also be helpful—but be careful, because not all probiotics will be beneficial for skin conditions. As I’ve mentioned, many people with skin conditions also have SIBO. SIBO often involves an overgrowth of microorganisms that produce a substance called D-lactic acid. Unfortunately, many commercial probiotics contain strains (like Lactobacillus acidophilus) that also produce D-lactic acid. That makes most commercial probiotics a poor choice for people with SIBO.

Soil-based organisms do not produce significant amounts of D-lactic acid, and are a better choice for this reason. In my clinic, I have great success with a product called Prescript Assist when treating skin conditions. You can purchase it here. Other popular choices include Gut Pro from Organic 3 and D-Lactate Free Powder from Custom Probiotics. I used these in the past, but have much better success with Prescript Assist so I now use that exclusively.

Well that’s the end of the “Nutrition for Skin Health” series! As a quick recap, the top whole-foods nutrients I recommend as part of any skin-healing diet are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Biotin
  • Sulfur
  • Vitamin E
  • Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5)
  • Selenium
  • Silica
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin K2
  • Probiotics

I hope this information has been helpful to you, and I would love to hear any success stories from readers who have treated their skin conditions using nutritional changes!

Other articles in this series:

Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Vitamin A, Zinc, and Vitamin C
Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Biotin, and Sulfur
Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Vitamin E, Pantothenic Acid, and Selenium


Join the conversation

  1. Hello Chris,
    I’ve just read on NCBI Pubmed that DMSO is a potent estrogen-receptor modulator – it increases estrogen receptors’ action, and thus the absorption of xenoestrogens in salmon ( It is quite a recent study , and few other scientists have pinpointed that, but I suspect not many people have suspected that the high absorption of phytoestrogens DMSO provides could be because of its action on estrogen receptors. Its success in hairloss treatments (in combination with castor oil) could also be because of the ERs, rather than because of the complete absorption it provides . Anyway, wouldn’t it be risky to use it in topical treatments and most of all, intravenously or orally, as, in the long term, it might prove to be carcinogenic?

  2. Chris,
    What has your experience been with cases of scalp folliculitis on the back of the head/neck that seemed to occur after a shaved hair cut? I have been dealing with this for 7-8 years and being in my mid 20’s, this has really taken a toll on me with physical discomfort as well as emotional stress.

    Any advice would be great.

    • to be honest with you, I also had the same thing for YEARS and the thing that ended up working for me was prayer. I know it’s sounds crazy but praying and actually believing I would find relief played the biggest part. Also the shampoo/conditioner I used was also a big contributor. lastly cleaning up diet I believe is also important.

  3. I do believe I am not absorbing these nutrients from food. Therefore I have to find them in lotions and body washes because the skin on my back and upper arms is severely dry and rips open.

    • Do not use soap in the shower. Never use off the shelf body washes EVER. Try using a multi blend hair oil, like Africa’s Best or one from Sally Beauty supply stores, they come in a tall bottle and last the month…add essential oil for mind healing fragrance. Rose and Neroli would be best for your complaints. Use a luffa sponge or boar bristle brush (never nylon) with a light touch! Drink water not soda or excess alcohol, cut the white refined sugar, processed foods and eat a serving of melon every day. Take the supplements suggested above. You will be a new person.

  4. I make natural personal care products and have recently become interested in making products that “feed” (support) our skin’s natural flora. Do you have any tips for topical ingredients or vitamins/minerals I should look into?

    (ghee (vit k), goldenseal (silica) etc etc…)

  5. Can someone answer my question regarding FLCO supplementation?
    I am on a high dosage Vitamin D3 serum shot of about 100,000IU once every 3 months. This is a standard GP prescribed dosage for every dark skinned vitamin D deficient person in the Netherlands. 😉 When I discovered FCLO on Chriskesser’s blog, I ditched the supplement and started with FCLO since it was a ‘real food’ supplement. But 6 months later my D3 levels had dropped from 70nmol to 36nmol ! It has nothing to do with the FCLO probably because I know D3 absorption is dependent on a number of health markers. It was just not working out for me. So I went back to my GP prescribed D3 shots now and doing better. I had the EBV virus last year, so I really have to make sure my D3 and immunity are really good all the time. I think the FCLO has other potent benefits that I can really help my immunity status and frequent fatigue attacks. Also I am planning to have a baby very soon. Can i continue to take the FCLO in addition to my D3 shots or would I be overdoing it? Any thoughts?

    • Clare, have you researched other supplements? Vitamin K-2 (menatretranone) and Vitamin A are supposed to help process Vitamin D3. You should look into these to see how they relate.

  6. Hey Chris,
    Thank you for all the things I’ve been learning this summer.
    I’ve started using ‘Concentrace’ ionic mineral drops to a chia-hemp-grass juice powder cocktail I have in the morning. I use the recommended (40drops / 1/2 teaspoon) amount.
    I also recently started purifying my tap water (I live in Pleasant Hill, Ca. We’re neighbors! 😉 with Adya Purity black mica solution to remove fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and other toxins. This product also remineralizes the water with ionic trace minerals, although I think to a lesser degree as the purification aspect is the primary purpose.
    My question is:
    can I be / or is it possible and/or harmful to be getting too much trace mineral supplementation? I can always back down the dosage of drops or quit using them if need be.
    I’d appreciate your unbiased wise opinion in this matter. I don’t want to ask the Adya or Concentrace people about this as I want a honest response and not one based on their product loyalty.
    Thanks again,

  7. A friend just sent me a reference to a recent study of Niacin and an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article concludes that Niacin provides no benefit vis heart disease and, in fact, INCREASES the risk of heart disease when taking it. The NEJM article is at:

    Do you (Chris) have an opinion about this conclusion?

    • And how high was this increase then?
      If it just a few %, who cares. Everything u eat gives cancer… just that some gives a hell lot more cancer risk 😉

      • From the study:

        “…The larger of the two studies tested Tredaptive — a Merck & Co. combo of niacin and an anti-flushing medicine — in nearly 26,000 people already taking a statin. Full results confirm there was a 9 percent increase in the risk of death for those taking the drug — a result of borderline statistical significance, meaning the difference could have occurred by chance alone, but still “of great concern,” Lloyd-Jones wrote in a commentary in the medical journal.

        The drug also brought higher rates of gastrointestinal and muscle problems, infections and bleeding. More diabetics on the drug lost control of their blood sugar, and there were more new cases of diabetes among niacin users.

        The initial results in December 2012 led Merck to stop pursuing approval of Tredaptive in the U.S. and to tell doctors in dozens of countries where it was sold to stop prescribing it to new patients.

        Prompted by that study, leaders of an earlier one that tested a different niacin drug, Niaspan, re-examined side effects among their 3,414 participants and detailed them in a letter in the medical journal….

        • The problem is the study quoted didn’t test niacin by itself, but a combination of niacin and laropiprant Laropiprant which was never approved for use in the USA by the FDA has a questionable safety profile. The side effects of laropiprant include gastrointestinal bleeding.

          So was it the niacin or the laropiprant that caused the problem?

          You can read more about it in the link below.

          • Please read The Niacin Story by Abram Hoffer, MD. His main goal was to help schizophrenics who he found were deficient in niacin. But along his journey, he found niacin cured his bleeding gums, arthritis, and a host of other health problems. Cheap book but worth a million bucks in information.

      • I also read something similar, I was planning to begin taking niacin, then read about the increased risk of “The Big D.” That was enough to change my mind. It’s more than “a few points” it’s conclusive evidence that it does harm.

  8. i was wondering if anybody could tell me what would work on getting rid of keratosis pilaris, as i have tried everything and nothing seems to work. i would be so greatful.

    • Here are 2 very effective starting points 1. Try eliminating eggs, dairy and or grains- either one at so time or all together & reintroduce one at a time back in. Other foods can also be involved (like some nuts or seeds). 2. Also look at fatty acid intake- omega3s- both DHA/EPA (fish oil) and ALA (flax)- and omega6s- especially GLA (borage or evening primrose).

  9. What probiotic would you recommend for children? They obviously can’t swallow a capsule… Also, do you know how I can give my kids more pantothenic acid without giving them too much of the other b-vitamins that you can get too much of? Everything seems to be in a b-complex form and the pantothenic acid is in such small amounts. I’d like to use a more therapeutic dose for help with allergies.

    • Get your hands on a kefir culture and make them smoothies with kefir and add raw sauerkraut to meals. My kids like sauerkraut. You can get raw sauerkraut in the fridge of health foods Torres. A little goes a long way, unless you have kids who love it like mine 😉

  10. Just thought I’d add my 2 cents. Yes, a healthy diet and holistic lifestyle is of paramount importance, but there are just so many variables and contributing factors to consider before jumping to someone else’s conclusions. What works for one may not for you. Water quality is like ground zero, and a great place for anyone to start. Consider this, water evaporates right? When it does, absolutely perfect H2O vapors escape into the atmosphere (ok maybe a few volatile compounds too). But the point is, the dissolved solids are left behind… in your environment, on your dishes and countertops, and clothing, even the soil in your veggie garden accumulates the wide spectrum of chemicals in your water supply. Water is just so universal that toxic exposure can be huge. Every drop of municipal water leaves a water spot behind, right? Many foods (and of course beverages) are processed with municipal waters. The instant oatmeal we feed to our baby, is cooked in giant vats, then dehydrated, leaving the residual chemicals in the oats. Then we reconstitute the dried cereals later with more tap water? What is the ppm now of these chemicals? If our skin can absorb the toxins, we’d better consider our bedding and clothing as well. We’d better think about swimming pools too because extra toxic chemicals are constantly being added (like BROMIDE). Meanwhile the H2O is constantly evaporating. Our daily hot shower exposes us from head to toe. We’re breathing the vapors and VOCs into lungs and directly into our bloodstream. Many folks consider a hot tub to be therapeutic but its more like a sick joke; a toxic soup of Chloride Bromide and Fluoride. These toxic halides kick IODINE (also a halogen, and a very crucial nutrient) to the curb! Its no accident that I have a deep well on my property, and use a 1 gal water distiller when I travel (for drinking). Many chemicals cannot be filtered effectively. Especially FLUORIDE. To my knowledge, a good RO system and distillation are the only reliable methods.

  11. Hi Chris,
    I’ve read that the product you mentioned for silica (ConcenTrace Mineral Drops) contains arsenic and fluoride, as well as smaller amounts of cadmium and aluminum. Do you have any concerns about the levels in this particular product? Is there a max dose one should take?


    • hi Sarah,

      putting the arsenic, fluoride, cadmium, aluminium aside.

      i would personally avoid, just based on the 7th largest mineral in that product, Bromide (an ion of bromine).

      have a google on bromide & bromine
      eg. google bromide thyroid

      bromine is a halogen & competes with iodine (another halogen). the other notable halogens are chlorine (chloride) and fluorine (fluoride).

      plus it does not look very balanced to me…the largest mineral is chloride.

      • Daz,
        Thanks for your input. I hadn’t even looked at the bromide, but it is something I definitely want to avoid as I already have thyroid issues.

        Unfortunately, I think I will have to continue my quest for a good trace mineral supplement. I had high hopes for this one.

        Thanks again!

  12. I found this site inadvertantly and am enthralled. I am going to take the advice from Chris and see how it goes. I’ll post when I notice change. I’m a young looking 62, almost 63, but want to keep my skin and hair looking it’s best. Thank you for all the contributions here – there’s a wealth of great info. I appreciate it.

  13. Fab round up on holistic skin health. There is usually far too much emphasis is on the skin care treatments; emollients, salves, balms, steroids, which are essential for relief and comfort but diet factors should also be reviewed.

    Best of luck to all skin problem sufferers. Leafie

    • Hi, worth checking out books by Dr. John O A Pagano – re dietary changes and cutting out specific foods…very interesting case histories showing successes. Seems to be helping me so far. One note of caution…everyone is unique. Whilst using lots of Kale smoothies, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and apparently Kale and other cruciferous greens can be Goitrogenics (affect Thyroid Gland). So it’s good to read widely and follow your personal instincts, testing as you go, for improvements. Good stuff learning outside the Establishment prejudices though :o)

  14. Dr. J – Maybe it’s different where you live. Many doctors I know in my personal life understand the importance of food, but most that I have run to in hospitals have absolutely no understanding of good nutrition. Most recommend the USDA standards. My father recently had some health issues. The doctor recommended some fake manufactured butter spread (from Unilever), tons of grains, less meat, less fat.
    Then there is the hospital food which is absolutely appalling in many regions of the US.

    In my case, years ago, I had acne and was prescribed accutane. Not a single time was food or lifestyle (sleep, stress, …) brought up. Not once!

    • Good point. My son suffered from ulcerative colits for 15 years,. had colonoscpopies every 6 mo, and when he’d ask about diet, each doctor said it had no effect. When they wanted to cut out half his colon, he took matters into his own hands, stopped eating foods with chemicals, additives, hormones etc., gluten, focused on plant-based and lean meats, and was able to gradually go off his meds until his final checkup showed no more ulcerative colitis – his doctor was stunned. Diet is obviously very important.

  15. “It’s unfortunate that many mainstream doctors and dermatologists typically deny any connection between diet and skin health.”

    Firstly, I do not believe this statement is anywhere near correct! Most every doctor believes what we eat is critical for health.

    Second, I have written over 400 articles on health and fitness on the Internet, and I have never felt the need to criticize other health care practitioners in my attempt to gain reader interest.

  16. Hi Chris,

    I am a budding acupuncturist from NZ and I am loving how you are integrating current research, a comprehensive understanding of the body’s physiology and TCM principles – it is really inspiring for me as I reach my last six months of study. In particular your work has solved a two year health concern of mine – acne. Turned up after a stressful period and would not budge no matter what I tried. Then I took some probiotics after listening to your brain-gut axis post (what i am studying for my literature review) and from that first day of using probiotics my skin has cleared up and the scarring is healing.


  17. Chris – Do you have experience with yeast overgrowths, such as malassezia (Pityrosporum), as the source of cystic acne?

    Why I ask:

    Been following your work for years and applied much of what you have written here.
    But despite years of cleaning up diet and lifestyle, I continued to get worse and worse cystic acne on my neck, along with extremely flaky skin.

    Today I had some skin samples done. They found that I have an overgrowth of:

    The dermatologist stated that many people with cystic acne symptoms suffer from such overgrowths. Regarding diet she suggest a LOW-CARB & LOW-FAT diet since “sugars and oils feed the yeast”. I’m not sure how that will work considering I’m athletic. I am doing a full blood panel and other tests for her to look for any underlying issues that could have allowed the yeast overgrowth.

    • I would try:

      1. Lugol’s iodine with DMSO. Mix in glass only and apply withclean fingers on very clean skin [DMSO will pull into your bloodstream anything it comes in contact with]

      2. Coconut oil

      3. Diamotaceus Earth [Food grade] Start with 1/2 tsp three times a day.

      Hydrogen Peroxide

      • @reba Can you tell me what this Suggestion was in response to? Acne? Eczema? (Of which I suffer both) seems like an nice easy and cheap formula! Thnx.

  18. Would someone be so kind as to direct me to the correct page/article/blog here for the following question: where can I get information about how to mitigate loose and flabby skin that is the result of profound weight loss? I have started the Paleo lifestyle and must lose over 100 pounds to prevent diabetes, reverse hypertension, decrease obstructive sleep apnea, minimize GERD and perhaps jump start a tired and sluggish thyroid. I expect to get grotesque bat wings and that horrible, unsightly, confidence-destroying belly apron; it is the price I deserve to pay for getting so obese (I pass this judgement on myself only, and not others: we each have our story). But if there are things I can do to prevent this, I would appreciate the information. I know about proper supplements, healthy fats, skin brushing. I expect moisturizers would help the cosmetic appearance to some degree but am not sure which would be the ingredients to look for or avoid. Can I expect, though I am in the middle of my 5th decade, for the flabby skin to tighten over time after 20 years of being stretched? All the lovely collegen and elastin has gone the way of many things that are over half a century old. Naturally, I am finally prioritizing health, but it would be nice if I could also address this skin issue before it is a fait accompli. Thank you in advance for information about the issue or where to post this rather long question.

    • What one eats and the condition of the immune system and microbiome have a greater effect on skin than anything, in my experience. Topicals mainly address the surface and don’t get at the roots of the problem. I find the best topicals to be the same sorts of things that are also beneficial for the skin when consumed, and they are best when there are no additives at all so that they are completely nontoxic and edible: cold-pressed cocoa butter, cold-pressed shea butter, centrifuged coconut oil, centrifuged olive oil, palm oil, lard, suet/tallow, seal oil, cold-pressed flaxseed oil, etc. They also happen to be what people used on their skin throughout history before the invention of petrochemicals and industrial manufacturing. Also use skin soaps/cleansers that contain these natural fats or others, like jojoba oil and aloe vera.

      “The lovely collegen and elastin has gone the way of many things”

      Right here in this article is a lot of info regarding collagen, elastin and the foods that contain them or help produce them, other nutrients beneficial for the skin and beneficial probiotics. There is more at the links that Chris provided under “Other articles in this series”.

      Before Paleo, my skin used to be so loose that when I pulled my cheek or arm skin out with my fingers, the skin stayed that way for a bit and only slowly returned to its former position, and I would use this to gross out my sisters. 😀 Now it snaps back instantly.

      • Thanks, Paleophil, for responding. As per your suggestions, I will continue to use the olive oil I scent with lavender and rosemary oils and eschew the promises of store bought unguents. And I’ll read the above article again … and again. I have a feeling your skin is much younger than mine, but I will hold onto hope, based on your input, that someday my skin will shrink to fit me — without the intervention of surgery.

        • There are no guarantees, of course, and I don’t know how much improvement is possible, but at the time of my improvement I was 39. That was years ago and my skin is in even better shape now. While it’s true that it helps to be younger, Art De Vany is around 76 and he recently reported that he has fewer wrinkles now than he did 4 years ago

          Degrees of loose skin after weight loss appear to vary greatly between individuals. There are many recognized factors, such as extent and duration of the obesity, rapidity of the weight loss, age, and genetics, and I suspect that connective tissue damage and disorders (skin contains areolar connective tissue and is connected to the hypodermis, which also contains connective tissue) play a role.

          I’ve seen some reports by people who developed loose skin after rapid, extensive weightloss of some significant improvement within a couple of years. Ben Greenfield is someone in the Paleo/ancestral community who offers some tips re: loose skin, though he concedes that a “perfect stomach” is “mostly impossible”:

  19. Hi Chris,

    I’m a recent subscriber and I appreciate all of the information you’ve provided already. I’m 45 and have had mild rosacea (flushing) for the last 10 years at least. I have also suffered from what I’d consider sluggish bowels for as long as I can remember. New perimenopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, are not helping matters. On a positive note, I’ve been avoiding grains and refined sugar, processed foods, adding more healthy fats and proteins for some time now, and the digestion has improved but is still not perfect. The rosacea seems to be getting a little worse, with my first noticeable trace of acne rosacea appearing the other morning upon waking up (heat is my most problematic trigger). In the last few days I’ve been taking raw apple cider vinegar in water, as well as yogi detox tea, to see if I can try to help heal the gut and detox the liver. This is in addition to taking 2 PB-8 supplements, eating whole goats milk yogurt and a bit of lacto fermented sauerkraut most days. I can’t say that any of this is helping yet. One last thing, I also meditate and exercise most days, and tend to control my stress level. Any other suggestions you have, especially with regards to probiotics, would be greatly appreciated. For instance, if you think probiotics might help, what type is your favorite and how much would your recommend? Anything else? It’s discouraging and frightening to be eating such a clean diet and still suspect that there’s chronic inflammation occurring, not to mention the other downsides of rosacea and digestion. Thanks so much!

  20. Hi,
    I read a study about probiotica where they gave it to male rats. They got a fluffier fur and got a higher sex appeal to the female rats. Simply looked more healthier. Soo seems like probiotica might help in different things, even some hair growth(fur)
    Doesn’t one say that the skin reflects how good ones immune system is? I heard it somewhere that it does. People with beautiful skin generally have a better immune system…
    I’ve been taking probiotica from BioGaia since 10 years. Works for me in regards to not getting sick. I have a twin Brother, pretty much always had a better skin since we were in the teens, he doesn’t take probiotics. But then we are two eggs twins soo not genetically identical

  21. I bought Sweet Almond Oil NF from the drugstore a while ago but didn’t use it much but today saw a vid on Youtube about it so thought I’d give it another try. It is working better for me than coconut oil, cold pressed and cheap stuff or vaseline. I have now applied it three times today and each time the itch was gone for hours. Last app came after a shower and skin was not too wet, just damp. Skin seems to be particular and little seems to be universal but SAO-FN is not expensive so worth a try. If my skin doesn’t hurt tomorrow I may begin again dressing it with Lugo’s iodine (non alcohol) and then SAO-NF.

    I seem to get pretty much all the micro-nutrients in this series and I am Paleo, mostly raw beef and fat with green low cal veg. I have mentioned in one of the other articles that mercury might be part of the problem. I only got the eczema as I entered the sixties., two years ago.

  22. Chris,
    I’ve followed your blog for a long time and and grateful for your level-headed personalized approach to diet and life, in general.
    I started in paleo/ whole 9 in january. while I am not 100% in, I’m and close to it.
    I have noticed that my skin is itch and dry and my hair some to lack luster, too- not something I usually have despite living in dry, wintery Minnesota.
    After reading a bit I’m wondering if I shouldn’t more dairy- kefir or yogurt. Would you agree? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Happy New Year and thanks again!

  23. Hi chris was recently told a biopsy tested positive for basal cell carcinoma. Am confident that after the removal ill be clean of it but am looking for ideas to keep this from happening again. All above is great and i will adapt them but is there anything you would add to someone who already has gotten a positive biopsy? Thank you 🙂

    • Brian, I doubt you’ll want to precisely emulate the following diet that was apparently very successful with precancerous skin lesions, but perhaps it will hold some clues for you. Lex Rooker is also a very helpful person and I’m sure he’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

      “I went to the Dermatologist today for a checkup. Since my late 30’s I’ve suffered from precancerous lesions on my face, shoulders, upper back, neck, etc. The dermatologists seemed to feel that such an early occurrence of this problem (most people get it in their 60’s) was due to the radiation treatments I received for cystic acne when I was a teenager.

      I’ve gone every 6 months or so for many years and each time they usually find about a dozen or so scaly patches that need to be frozen off with liquid nitrogen. I usually come out the the dermatologist’s office with little patches of frost bite all over my upper body, and they take a couple of weeks to scab over and heal.

      About 3 years ago, after starting the Zero Carb phase of my dietary adventure, my visits to the dermatologist took a decided turn for the better. They started finding fewer and fewer spots to freeze off. About 2 years ago one session they didn’t find anything, and 6 months later they only found one.

      This was my first visit in about 18 months and I was prepared for the worst. I stripped down to my shorts and they went over me with a fine tooth comb. Didn’t find a thing – not one lesion or scaly patch. They commented that I was in terrific shape and they wished all their other patients would take as good care of themselves as I do.

      People often ask me if I’ve noticed improvement in my skin. I usually hesitate to say much as I’m almost 60 so comparing my skin with someone who’s decades younger is not very usefull. In this case, I have the stamp of approval from Greene Dermatology Clinic, and they say my skin is in amazing condition for my age.

      What was also interesting was that one of the doctors commented on the fact that for my age my body had very little fat, and muscle tone was more like someone 20 to 30 years younger. He wanted to know what my fitness routine was. It blew him away when I told him I didn’t have one – never went to the gym or did any exercise other than walk to the market or post office on occasion. ( no, I didn’t tell him about my diet. They have all these charts around the office pushing fruits and veggies so you get all those antioxidants to keep you in good health. I’ve found when I mention that the plant stuff doesn’t work but raw meat does, their eyes glaze over and they tune out – so I no longer bother)”

      -Lex Rooker at's-journal/msg12586/#msg12586

    • Brian:

      I’ve used a few things that have worked for me on lesions that looked like cancer [never tested]

      1. Bentonite clay mask. I apply it and leave it on… wearing some now on a lesion on my back that turned black. It dries it up leaving healthy skin alone.

      2. I had scary looking marks that showed up on my chest a few years ago. Dark red… I figured I could burn them off like a doctor would using hydrogen peroxide 12%. I put some in a small cup and dipped a toothpick in it and applied to lesions carefully placing on lesions only. They hurt for about a half hour. It worked and the marks never returned. [I bought the peroxide at the health food store]

  24. I have acne, mainly painful cyst, that take forever to go away, after reading the articles on healthy skin I started to eat beef liver twice a week, taking a probiotic by renew life 50 billiin and taking green pastures fermented butter blend/ cod liver oil, and eating more eggs, I also take a miltivitamin and magnesium, I stared to see a difference my face started clearing up and was cyst free for about a week and a half, but the day I started my period I broke out with 6 new under the skin cyst/ pimples, is there a way I can keep my hormonal acne at bay? Other supplements I can take or food?

  25. Hi Chris,

    I wonder if the same nutrients you recommend to promote skin health are just as important for building healthy hair and nails?

  26. Chris,
    I have hashimotos and was looking for a trace mineral supplement to help with that and saw that you recommend the Concentrace for skin. Do you think (or anyone else feel free to chime in) that this product is ok for someone with Hashimotos even through it has iodine in it? I know that you agree with Dr. Kharrazian that Iodine can add fuel to the auto-immune fire. If this is not the right product for me can you recommend one? I was also thinking of getting some of the Magnesium Glycinate from Pure Encapsulations. If I can take the Concentrace, does that already have enough Magnesium in it on it’s own? By the way I also take Greener Pastures cod liver oil and a few other supplements but mostly try to eat healthy to get nutrients.

    Thanks for all your very informative articles, podcasts etc. I’m a fan!
    – Sara

  27. My wife and I both developed keratosis pilaris on our arms 8 years ago after moving from Florida to Chicago, and nothing we’ve tried has had any effect. After reading your article, I tried us on 200mcg of k2, and found that the keratosis got worse on both of us within 3 days! It even spread further up our arms than usual. This has to be useful data, but I can’t make sense of it. It there some other nutrient that k2 might exacerbate a deficiency in? Maybe biotin?

    • My first thought is a soy allergy, if it is MK7. Soy can have pretty drastic effects on the skin.
      My second thought is, if you are deficient in retinol or vitamin D, these are the vitamins that K2 interacts closest with. Calcium is the mineral.

    • I know this is old…but for future readers I’d like to comment on a theory of mine. Without too much detail, I’d like to point out that the salt water of the ocean can help MANY skin disorders… and many people have noticed improvement of KP after vacationing or visiting the beach without knowing why. This particular gentleman may have been visiting the water more frequently before moving up north which is why he and his wife both suffered. Consider trips to the ocean if possible and check for results. Bathing in natural sea salt and water may help as well. I’m currently starting to test this out myself.

  28. Also, is it safe to eat liver and extra virgin red palm oil while taking cod liver oil? red palm oil is very rich in vitamin A and I don’t want to overdose.

    • I doubt there would be a problem taking both (I do).
      keep in mind, palm oil doesn’t actually contain any vitamin A, (which is only from animal sources) it just has lots of carotene, which your body can convert to Vit A. But, your body only does the conversion if you are vit a deficient, so it’s hard to overdose on carotene – though, like anything, taken to extremes it could be a problem.

      Besides, red palm oil has so many other goodies in it that it is worth taking in its own right – it is the most nutrient dense plant oil there is.

      Just be careful not to spill/splatter it – it stains everything an orange colour!

      • quote “your body only does the conversion (carotene to vitamin A) if you are vit a deficient”.
        Not sure if this is wholly true, from what i have read, good Thyroid function is required to convert carotene to vitamin A. So this may be an issue in people who are on the hypothyroid end of the scale.
        I have also read that Vitamin A is required for good thyroid function, so this could be a bit of a catch 22 for people relying on carotene for Vitamin A.
        (Sounds like it may be better to get Vitamin A from animal sources if your thyroid function is low or compromised?)

        for more info, google something like ‘carotene conversion thyroid’ also ‘carotoderma thyroid’

        • I think what was meant is, you won’t get extra Vit A from carotenoids, not that you’ll always get enough. Conversion of carotene to retinol requires tocopherol for stabilization, otherwise you get asymmetrical split forming apocarotenoids that have anti-retinol activity.

          • yes, that is what was meant.

            I see now that nutritional labels, and many writers, especially vegan ones, regard carotene as vitamin A.

            Given the various co-factors required for the conversion, and the presence of fat even for the absorption of carotene (which many vegans avoid), I think this is misleading at best.

            I have read somewhere that that carotene is not very bioavailable in raw veg, it needs to be cooked to get it all out. So the raw vegans eating carrots and the like without any oily accompaniments are probably getting vitamin a deficient (amongst other things) .

  29. Hi Chris, I purchased cod liver oil from Green Pastures but I meant to get the cod liver oil/butter blend. Right now, to maximize absorption, I’m eating a spoonful of grass fed butter alongside my cod liver oil. The ratios are probably off, but do you reckon this is still effective? My goal is to clear my skin for good. Thanks much

  30. Hi Chris, I have problems tolerating dairy products – I think it’s the casein that’s the problem – so would it be better to supplement with K2 in the MK-4 form? Things like sauerkraut and fermented foods don’t agree with me either..

  31. I have changed my diet quite a bit the past few months. Due to my husbands intolerance to gluten I was eating less of it, but did eat it occasionally. But when I became pregnant I started avoiding it as much as possible. And after the birth of our daughter found out she cant have any type of dairy product, now I avoid all forms of dairy. all of that being said: I have found my skin staying so much more clear and less oily! Also I feel better with my whole digestive system as well. Nutrition is linked to our health in every single aspect! I find it so sad so many don’t see the connection until they encounter a serious health issue.
    Shanna M.

  32. I started doing GAPS in february, after listening to your podcast about the gut-brain-skin axis. I have celiac disease so I figured my acne might have something to do with leaky gut and dysbiosis, and voila, my face looks terrific now. Things were improving very quickly after I started taking probiotics. Just wanted to say thank you, Chris.

    • Hi Bodil,
      It looks like you are the only one who can help me; I researched online but did not find anything worthy other than your above statement which says “I started doing GAPS in february, after listening to your podcast about the gut-brain-skin axis. I have celiac disease so I figured my acne might have something to do with leaky gut and dysbiosis, and voila, my face looks terrific now. Things were improving very quickly after I started taking probiotics. Just wanted to say thank you, Chris.”.
      Could you please tell me what GAPS is? I tried 3 different probiotics: Started with Kefir, then a potent tablet probiotic, then a specially-designed capsul probiotic that has the potential to travel far in the guts but all caused my acne/rosacae get 10 times worse permanently (after 2 months, no improvement), moreover, except for Kefir, the other 2 probiotics made me extremely bloated as well. I would be greatful if you can share your experience.

      • GAPs is “Gut And Psychology Syndrome” and it’s a diet. I would wonder about whether or not you have healed your gut if you are reacting still to the probiotic. I have gluten intolerance, leaky gut and I don’t tolerate probiotics well. The GAPs diet is a good choice to try and heal the gut as are Specific Carbohydrate Diet and Paleo. I like Paleo (plus potatoes aka the Perfect Health Diet) the best. You may have SIBO- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, which also causes bloating. There is a test for that called the hydrogen breath test.

  33. Very curious to hear your thoughts on my situation. I have been diagnosed with SIBO and rosacea. After a round of antibiotics my skin improved. Have since been following SCD but everytime I take probiotics or eat yogurt my skin breaks out again! It is a bit frustrating as I read so much about them being helpful and I’m not sure why they backfire for me.

    • My guess is you still have some lingering SIBO. Lactic-acid forming probiotics can make SIBO worse. I would either avoid lactic-acid ferments or probiotics until you get the SIBO under control, or try a D-lactate free probiotic such as the one from

  34. A linoleic acid deficiency &/or an arachidonic acid deficiency could result in bad skin (dry, scaly, itching skin, hair loss, dandruff, inflammation).
    (& the arachidonic acid deficiency could be a result of a linoleic acid deficiency, part of the omega-6 metabolic pathway, if you are not getting enough AA or GLA in you diet).
    Probably rare, but worth a mention, both of these are omega-6 fatty acids.

  35. L’Oreal have developed a probiotic extract that reduces irritation in sensitive skin. There are two interesting features here – a probiotic need not be alive to confer an immune-modulating benefit, and, the gut is far from being the only area responsive to probiotics.
    The killed probiotic effect I characterize as an immune reboot. Redundant antibodies are retired, fresh NK cells generated, so there is a relaxation of backwards-looking vigilance and a simultaneous creation of fresh alertness. Like replacing the worn-out staff of an army with freshly trained men, and replacing dated equipment with the latest models. This tends to boost immunity while reducing autoimmunity.
    Live probiotics add to this effect the production of many beneficial chemicals, including ATP, neurotransmitters including GABA, butyrate, endorphins, vitamins, and antimicrobial peptides.

  36. Chris,

    You’ve suggested 9 supplements to improve the skin, yet no dosage levels. Also, are there some of these vitamins/supplements that are bundled together? I’m a firm believer in supplementing my diet in addition to trying my darndest to get what I need from food. It’s not always easy to get everything you need from food alone. My cravings are under control when I keep up with supplements and I’ve noticed a marked difference in what I HAVE to have (citrus always hits me hard) vs what just feels like “meh”.

    Might I also recommend a night cream for the face (and neck): it’s by Nature’s Gate Organics and the one I use is called Oh What a Night Walnut Therapy (you can find it on Amazon). My skin usually has bumpy dry patches that any amount of scrubbing could not erase for more than a few hours. I’ve been using this cream for 4 days and I wake up with dewy skin every single morning that lasts throughout the day. I wish I sold this product! It has changed the way I take care of my facial skin…now when I figure out the supplementing part WITH this night cream: look out world!!

    Thank you as always for your informative articles,

  37. Chris,

    Great series. As I noted in the second part of my blog series on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) at, it is not at all unusual to see skin issues associated with SIBO due to malabsorption. That was one of my indications something was not right with me even though I was eating a very nutrient-dense diet with no processed foods whatsoever.

    Besides horribly dry skin, I also either had rosacea or dermatitis as one dermatologist would say one thing and another would say something else. Regardless, I would be sent out the door with a cream (it had a skull and crossbones warning on it for increased cancer risk) that barely worked. At this time I also had very bad jock itch that another prescription cream could barely keep under control. Asking any of the dermatologists if this could be diet related brought either blank stares or protestations that there is NO proof for a diet connection…..sigh.

    However, once my SIBO was taken care off, all this disappeared and my skin has never looked healthier!

    • Hi Ray,

      Yes, SIBO and other gut issues are often at the root of skin problems. This series was focused on nutrients for skin health; in a future series, perhaps I’ll cover the gut-skin connection. My talk at the Wise Traditions conference in November will be on this subject (more specifically, on the gut-brain-skin axis).

    • Hi. I also have SIBO and the skin issues you are referring to that you had. What can I do? Can this really all be taken care of? My GI system and skin are horrible. Anything you can help with I appreciate, please!

      I feel worse taking probiotics yet I’m told to take them? Also, if I eat sourkraut from whole foods, I have diarrhea, but I never knew of D-lactic.

      Thanks, Anthony

  38. Regarding probiotics, I have been thinking of consuming water kefir regularly. I noticed it is very sweet, due to the sugar content. It is very sweet even after several days of fermentation. Do you think the benefit of the probiotic outweighs the sugar?

    • That’s odd. When I ferment mine for a week it’s pretty sour. But yes, I think the sugar content is fairly minimal and the probiotic content is definitely beneficial.

      • Is not the maximum fermentation time for water kefir 48 hours? After this time the bacteria has consumed all the glucose and they’ll starve if left in that solution any longer. That was what I’ve been told about water kefir from the from the ferment community from the get go.

    • Hi Chris

      First off I want to say thank you for your insightful information and I’m getting ready to implement these recommendations into my life.

      I have been battling with acne for years and just have two questions. I’m eager to try a probiotic. You mentioned Lactobacillus can be a problem with people who have SIBO, yet it’s mentioned here and elsewhere that Lactobacillus is effective against acne. I’m confused should people with acne take probiotics with Lactobacillus?

      Also based on your recommendation I’m going to order Green Pasture Fermented Cod liver oil + butter oil to get the vit K2? My question is do you think the butter oil could contain anything like IGF-1 that would cause acne? I hope you can answer my questions.

      Thank you and your feedback is appreciated.

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