Antioxidant-rich diets linked to better life quality in young women with acne

A recent Nutrients journal study investigates whether dietary antioxidants influence the quality of life (QoL) of young women with acne vulgaris (AV).

Study: The Antioxidant Power of a Diet May Improve the Quality of Life of Young Women with Acne Vulgaris. Image Credit: Jacob Lund /

What causes AV?

AV is a chronic skin disease that primarily develops during adolescence; however, in some cases, AV also persists into adulthood. Approximately 9% of the global population is affected by AV.

Some of the characteristic features of AV include pustules, papules, nodules, and scars. In most individuals, acne occurs on the face and negatively impacts mental health and overall QoL. Therefore, a holistic intervention is crucial to alleviate acne's physical and psychological consequences.

Previous studies have identified several factors that may be involved in the pathophysiology of acne, including age, sedentary lifestyle, gender, and diet. Hormonal, inflammatory, environmental, and genetic factors have also been shown to contribute to AV. 

Regular consumption of a vegetarian diet, Mediterranean diet, prebiotics, dietary probiotics, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and food with low glycemic index have been shown to reduce acne lesions. In contrast, ultra-processed foods with high levels of sugar, saturated fatty acids, and milk may increase acne lesions. Therefore, eating habits in young individuals could be correlated with AV; however, more research is needed to elucidate the role of diet in the manifestation of AV.

Oxidative stress plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of AV. Although a small amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is essential for proper immune functioning, overproduction has been linked with cell damage that may cause skin disease. Dietary antioxidants, such as vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols, can alleviate oxidative stress.

About the study

The current study evaluated the relationship between the dietary antioxidant quality index (DAQI) and the QoL of young women with AV. A total of 165 young women with AV between 18 and 35 years of age were included in the study. All participants adhered to a daily diet of 500-5000 kcal. 

At baseline, sociodemographic, lifestyle, and acne data were collected from all study participants. The height, education, marital status, body weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption status of the participants were also obtained. The levels of physical activity ranging from low to moderate to high intensity were determined using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ).

Dietary intake was assessed based on randomized three-day food dairy, which comprised two weekdays and one weekend day. On the selected days, food consumption details were recorded. The quantities of calories, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other dietary nutrients were calculated. 

The DAQI scale was used to assess dietary vitamin C, vitamin E, β-carotene, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, selenium, dietary antioxidant capacity, phytosterols, lignans, and polyphenols. The components of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase, were also evaluated.

Study findings

The mean age of the participants was 23.6 years. Around 88% of the cohort was single, and 65% had a middle level of education.

Over 50% of the study cohort struggled with AV for two to five years, with some experiencing AV for over five years. About 9% of the cohort had severe acne.

AV was found to have a moderate impact on the QoL of study participants, as the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) test revealed that these participants were averagely satisfied with their lives. Approximately 33% of the study cohort exhibited signs of depression, as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) test.

Although many study participants had an average BMI, drank alcohol occasionally, and were involved with moderate physical activity, a significant number of participants performed low levels of physical activity, were obese, smoked cigarettes, and drank alcohol once a week. Notably, most participants' dietary antioxidants were below the recommended levels.

Diet influences AV through the gut microbiota, hormones, immune system, and carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Compared to developed countries with a high adherence to the Western diet, developing countries exhibited a lower prevalence of AV. 

Study participants with a higher DAQI had a healthier lifestyle, as most were non-smokers, had a lower BMI, and performed moderate physical activity. Higher DAQI decreased the risk of AV and improved QoL by 30-33%.


Adherence to an antioxidant-rich diet reduced the risk of AV, which improved the study participants' risk of depression. In the future, DAQI could be used as an indicator of diet quality for patients with AV.

Journal reference:
  • Jankowska, B., and Zujko, M. E. (2024) The Antioxidant Power of a Diet May Improve the Quality of Life of Young Women with Acne Vulgaris. Nutrients 16(9); 1270. doi:10.3390/nu16091270
Dr. Priyom Bose

Written by

Dr. Priyom Bose

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.


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