Best Supplements for skin health


Are you experiencing dry skin with a dull appearance? Are wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and uneven skin tone fast-developing? These are all normal signs of aging. As you get older, your skin undergoes many changes leading to the visible signs we associate with aging. For example, your collagen and elastin production will slow down, resulting in less firmness and elasticity in the skin.

To protect your cells against oxidative stress and damage caused by pollution, lifestyle factors, and UV exposure, your body produces antioxidants. However, the supply of these antioxidants reduces once you reach your twenties and thirties. This leaves the skin cells vulnerable to oxidative damage, further causing visible signs of age. In addition, your sebaceous glands produce less oil as you get older, contributing to the feel and appearance of dryer, less supple skin.

Due to the aforementioned factors (collagen and elastin loss, reduction in oils, and UV exposure), aging skin is an unavoidable reality of biology. However, there are things you can do to control the factors that cause your skin to age faster than normal. For example, poor nutrition, excess sugar consumption, alcohol abuse, and smoking all contribute to premature aging of the skin, and visibly so. The reason these behaviors are detrimental to your skin’s health and appearance is that they cause inflammation that triggers a break-down of collagen and elastin and halts the renewal of skin cells. When these processes occur, your skin loses moisture and elasticity, leading to slack, dull skin that doesn’t “bounce back” or glow like it did when you were younger. Dryness, lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and pigmentation are sure to follow.

So, when searching for how to improve skin health and avoid unnecessary acceleration of aging, there are some easy steps. A skincare routine is important (and easily accessible) which includes a daily cleanser, hydrating moisturizer, and most importantly, a daily sunscreen. When it comes to your diet, cutting out (or heavily reducing) sugar is a huge help, as is increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

However, as vital as a healthy diet full of fresh produce is (for all aspects of health), there are some excellent supplements for skin health on the market. The best supplements for skin health will boost your antioxidant and collagen levels in a way that even a healthy diet cannot.Keep reading to discover the best skin health vitamins and supplements and how they can improve your overall skin health.

1. Vitamin C


General health benefits of vitamin C

  1. Boosts immunity and helps to fight infections
  2. Aids in iron absorption
  3. Supports heart health and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis
  4. Supports eye health and reduces the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts
  5. Supports healthy bones and joints
  6. Helps the body to respond to and deal with stress safely
  7. Protects against radiation exposure
Vitamin C is most commonly known as the immunity-boosting vitamin, but it is one of the best natural supplements for skin health. As a strong antioxidant, vitamin C helps to stop free radicals (caused by UV exposure and chemicals) from damaging your skin cells. The daily tolls of smoking, UV rays, pollution, and toxins deplete your body’s vitamin C stores, leaving you more prone to oxidative damage.

Vitamin C is also an essential cofactor in collagen production, and helps to repair and maintain collagen in the body.

Collagen is threatened by factors such as long-term exposure to UV rays, as that will trigger the production of enzymes that damage collagen and other crucial proteins. This destruction leads to premature aging of the skin, which we see as fine lines, pigmentation, and wrinkles.

How Vitamin C is important for skin health

  • Boosts collagen production and repair, leading to smooth, firm skin
  • Protects the skin from UV damage and subsequent lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces sunburn severity
  • Helps to reduce inflammation (thus helping to treat acne and rosacea)
  • Helps the wound healing process [1]
Your body doesn’t produce vitamin C on its own, so you must source it from food and supplements. While vitamin C is excellent alone, it is even more effective when combined with vitamin E, especially when it comes to skin health. Let’s learn more about this skin-loving antioxidant.


2. Vitamin E


Vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, is an abundant antioxidant present in your tissues. It protects the fats (lipids) in your skin cells from oxidative stress and damage caused by UV rays, smoking, pollution, and chemicals. This is why you will find vitamin E in most anti-aging skincare and beauty products. When combined with vitamin C, vitamin E can reduce the damage caused by UV rays, as research has proven.

The Journal of Research in Medical Sciences published a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial concluding that vitamin E can greatly help in the treatment of AD (atopic dermatitis). The study concluded that: “vitamin E can improve the symptoms and the quality of life in patients with AD. As vitamin E has no side effects with a dosage of 400 IU per day, it can be recommended for the treatment of AD.” [2]

The best food sources of vitamin E are avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, mustard greens, spinach, fish, wheatgerm oil, and cold-pressed oils such as argan oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. However, to further improve your skin and repair damage, you may need to take vitamin E supplements and use topical vitamin E products. This is especially pertinent as you age, as your skin’s vitamin E stores deplete.

It’s important to note that even a small dose of UV ray exposure can drain your body of vitamin E (and other antioxidants), increasing the need for more.

Vitamin E skin health benefits

  • Protects skin against sun damage
  • Increases collagen production
  • Helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces and prevents dryness, flakiness, and age spots
  • Helps to reduce inflammation in the skin
  • Boosts blood circulation
  • Supports wound healing and prevents the formation of keloid scars [3]
Overall health benefits of vitamin E

  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Supports healthy hormone balance
  • Leaves you with strong, lustrous hair
  • Promotes healthy eyes and reduces the risk of AMD (age-related macular degeneration)
  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and blood clots


3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids


Omega-3 fatty acids are known as the best anti-inflammatory substances to add to your diet, especially for heart and brain health. However, they are also fantastic for the skin, helping to keep it soft, moist, and with fewer wrinkles. Some of the best sources of omega-3s are walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and fish oil supplements. For vegetarians, Sacha Inchi oil is an excellent (while relatively unknown) source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

To maintain healthy skin, you need the right balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids as they are both important parts of your skin cell membranes. These fats give your cell membranes their structure and integrity, and support your skin’s barrier by locking in moisture, regulating oil, and keeping toxins out. What’s more, omega-3 fatty acids support the production of hormones and enzymes that reduce inflammation, therefore, helping to calm red, inflamed skin.

A diet deficient in omega-3 fatty acids can result in skin that lacks moisture and elasticity, with increased roughness and dryness. These symptoms leave skin more vulnerable to irritation and damage, triggering inflammation.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, “dietary supplementation and topical application of certain omega-3 PUFAs attenuates UV-induced photodamage, extrinsic signs of skin aging, and inflammatory skin responses.”

Omega 3 fatty acids skin benefits

  • Protects skin cells from sun-related inflammation and damage
  • Strengthened cell membranes
  • Helps to form a barrier to keep toxins and free radicals out
  • Moisturizes and nourishes the skin from the inside out
  • Soothes and reduces inflammation, reducing skin flare-ups
  • Regulates oil production, controlling both dryness and acne
Other health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Supports healthy eyes and reduces the risk of macular degeneration
  • Reduces ADHD symptoms in children
  • Promotes healthy brain function and overall health
  • May help to reduce the risk of dementia


4. Probiotics


Gut health is a crucial factor in clear, glowing skin. Your gut is populated by good bacteria called probiotics that keep “bad” bacteria in check and support a healthy immune system. Probiotics are important in the absorption of certain nutrients.

When your gut flora is imbalanced, leaky gut can occur. This is when bad bacteria, toxins, and partially digested food particles leak into your bloodstream. Due to the cascade of toxins, essential minerals and vitamins cannot be properly absorbed. What’s more, these toxins build up in your tissues and cells, contributing to increased systemic inflammation. Leaky gut, overall poor gut health, and inflammation can all lead to health issues such as fatigue, depression, autoimmune disorders, IBD, thyroid disorders, and headaches.

Interestingly, there is a strong connection between inflamed skin and poor gut health. Inflammation is a major trigger for people with inflammatory skin issues such as acne, eczema, and rosacea. Probiotics are the best supplements to take to prevent leaky gut, inflammation and to treat these skin conditions and inflammatory diseases. The best sources of probiotics are kefir, kombucha, yoghurt, sauerkraut, and miso. However, fermented foods such as these cannot offer you all of the probiotics you need, and you will require supplements to “top up” your stores.

Probiotics for skin health benefits

  • Prevents flare-ups of inflammatory conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis
  • Helps to keep skin hydrated and plump
  • Helps to protect wounds against infection
  • Helps to prevent and control skin damage caused by free radicals
Overall health benefits of probiotics

  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Aids in nutrient absorption
  • Helps to eliminate toxins
  • Supports a strong immune system
  • Controls unhealthy bacteria, funghi, and viruses
  • Helps to prevent and manage digestive issues such as IBS, constipation, and diarrhea
As well as taking a high-quality probiotic supplement, it is important to understand the factors that affect your gut flora both positively and negatively. Common factors that are detrimental to gut health are sugar, processed foods, and prolonged use of antibiotics. Furthermore, constant stress and poor sleep can also disrupt the harmonious balance of good and bad gut bacteria.

5. Reduce your sugar intake and drink plenty of water


Drinking enough water is one of the most basic yet most crucial aspects of overall wellness and skin health. If you are experiencing dry, flaky skin, it may be a sign that you are dehydrated, possibly severely so. Water keeps your skin hydrated, but it also helps to bolster skin health by flushing out toxins, improving blood circulation, and supporting digestion.

Plain water is not the only source of hydration (coffee and tea do not count!), and you can boost your fluid intake with fresh produce, especially cucumber and watermelon. Fresh fruits and veggies like these provide excellent vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support and nourish your skin from the inside out. They also boost collagen production, the crucial protein responsible for that supple, glowing look. Healthy, collagen-rich skin is far less prone to damage and can repair itself far quicker.

When it comes to your diet, there is one culprit that stands in the way between you and healthy skin, and it is SUGAR. Sugar feeds and promotes the growth of bad gut bacteria, boosts inflammation, and causes the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end-products). These are caused when sugar binds to important proteins in your system and alters their chemical structure and function. The resulting AGEs are bad news as they damage collagen.

Eating a balanced and nutrient-dense diet of whole foods is crucial for skin health, as is a good skincare routine. However, life is not always consistent, so we need a little extra help in the form of general and anti-aging supplements for skin health. As explored here, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and probiotics are the best supplements and vitamins for acne and skin health.

Before taking any new dietary supplement, check with your healthcare professional first. This is especially important if you are taking a combination of antioxidants as they may interact with regular medications you are taking.

References:
  1. AC Carr et al. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017
  2. Jaffary et al. Effects of oral vitamin E on treatment of atopic dermatitis: A randomized controlled trial. J Res Med Sci. 2015
  3. Zampieri et al. A prospective study in children: Pre- and post-surgery use of vitamin E in surgical incisions. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2010