Beauty from within: Do supplements really work for your skin health?
Skincare is a far more complex practice than simply the application of great skincare.
Our emotions, lifestyle and diet all play an important role in our skin health. If you’re not eating or sleeping well, or are suffering from stress or anxiety, chances are it will show in your skin.
What we ingest reaches our gut, and from there all manner of bodily processes are affected.
Beauty supplements are the magic pill of the moment. Everyone’s looking for a simple way to transform skin, rewind the clock, restore lush and thick hair, grow strong nails, get that bounce back in their step and so on.
But are these supplements actually the answer?
Dieticians and nutritionists all agree that we should be getting our nutrients from our diets. But they also agree that this is just not possible in the world we live in today, with soil depletion, pesticides and pollutants.
Unfortunately, with current farming practices, including heavy use of pesticides, our produce is lacking in some nutrients. In addition, we’re exposed to toxic chemicals in our air, water, food, and personal care products now more than ever. Because of that, our body needs extra antioxidants and other nutrients to help support detoxification pathways. Supplements are the easiest way to get a boost of extra nutrients.
So what supplements should we be turning to, as recommended by dermatologists?
Vitamin E supplement
This fat-soluble vitamin is an antioxidant that stops the production of free radicals when fat undergoes oxidation. In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function, cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and possibly other metabolic processes. The term vitamin E actually is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant properties. Vitamin E is very difficult to consume through diet because it’s not found in many foods (sunflower seeds and some nuts contain this vitamin). Moreover, UV damage rapidly depletes vitamin E.
Vitamin C supplement
The vitamin famously linked with citrus fruits does a lot more than boost immunity. It not only promotes fibroblast proliferation (fibroblasts are the cells that produce collagen and other fibers), but it also acts as an assistant (a "cofactor") in enzymatic activity that relates directly to skin health and function. It even controls some of the DNA repair that goes on in skin to forestall cancerous growths. Its association with cells that control skin pigmentation (melanocytes) makes it a helpful ingredient for addressing skin discolouration. Because this vitamin is so easily lost in our urine, it’s ideal to consume vitamin-C-rich foods throughout the day via fresh fruits and vegetables while also taking a supplement. Foods high in vitamin C include red peppers, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and, of course, oranges (but please eat them whole—never juiced!).
Collagen can offer valuable benefits for your skin. In a study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology in 2014, researchers gave 69 women ages 35 to 55 collagen or a placebo for eight weeks and observed that those in the collagen group had better skin elasticity at the end of the trial. The body will utilize the different amino acids to repair damaged skin, and clinical trials show an improvement in wrinkles, skin elasticity, and hydration with the addition of ingestible collagen.
Do ensure you get hydrolysed collagen. Why? The only way to make collagen usable for the body is to digest the protein using proteolytic enzymes. This is done through a process called hydrolysis. Collagen that is fully hydrolyzed is completely broken down into peptides and amino acids, and is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Vitamin D or the ‘sunshine vitamin’ has a number of benefits like strengthening bones and muscles, improving mood and boosting immunity as well as promoting healthy skin but it’s vitamin D3 that you want to look out for when it comes to skin problems.
Vitamin D3 is the natural form of vitamin D that your body produces when you’ve been in sunlight and works to rejuvenate your cells and protect them from free radicals like pollution. Most of us are Vitamin D deficient, especially after the winter, and Vitamin D3 is also important for maintaining healthy skin. Vitamin D3 deficiency can cause skin problems such as dryness, flaking and itchy skin.
Recent studies have shown that regular intake of vitamin B contributes to normal and healthy production of cells and most people are often deficient. It can be tricky to understand which vitamin B you need so a vitamin B complex keeps all bases covered. There are 8 B vitamins within the body, and they’re essential for cell growth, development and overall functioning.
The most effective type of vitamin B for your skin is vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency most commonly causes acne, hyperpigmentation as well as dry, flaky and itchy skin.
If you’re vegan, it can be difficult to maintain levels of vitamin B12 as they are most commonly found in animal products like meat, eggs, milk, cheese and fish so a dietary supplement is advisable.
If you’re sceptical about vitamin supplements helping skin issues and delaying the ageing process, we don’t blame you. Some people argue that we get all our basic nutritional needs from our food but this concept does not consider those that can’t eat all the food groups, like vegans. The best vitamins for the skin will keep all of your bases covered and won’t allow you to become deficient.
So what do the experts think? Are skin vitamins worth our time and money? Experts say, despite our best efforts to eat a healthy, balanced diet and maintain a good skin care routine, sometimes our busy, modern lifestyles mean that we need a little extra help. As we age, certain cellular functions also decline, so supplementation is a great way to boost these processes so that our skin looks youthful. Supplements are quite rapidly cleared through our liver and kidneys, so need to be taken daily.