Skin is the largest organ of the body and the one that requires lots of attention and support. After all, it has some major functions to perform; namely: it's a protector, a regulator, and an organ of sensation. Let's look at each of these roles for a minute and then talk about the best supplements for your skin.
As an organ of protection, skin is the barrier against microorganisms, radiation, pressure, chemicals and other environmental assaults, and temperature changes.
As a regulator, it helps take care of body temperature via hair and sweat; it serves as a reservoir for the creation of vitamin D; and it regulates changes in fluid levels and peripheral circulation.
As an organ of sensation, skin detects and transmits changes in the environment. Skin has receptors that can identify pain, temperature, and touch.
Obviously, skin health is critical for overall body health. Therefore, you want to ensure you provide your skin with all the necessary nutrients it needs to function optimally. Although food is the best way to provide this nourishment, sometimes supplements are necessary or can complement your diet.
9 supplements for your skin
If you want to support and nourish your skin, there are certain vitamins and other nutrients you should consume regularly as food, supplements, or both. Here are the supplements to consider:
Not all of the B vitamins are created equal when it comes to benefiting your skin. Vitamin B12 has a role in maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria on the skin, which can help fight acne. Niacin, aka vitamin B3, may help reduce the risk of skin cancer.
The secret to taking vitamin B supplements is to get a balance of all of the members and to talk to your doctor before starting. If taking niacin, you should choose the amide form, which is nicotinamide, and not the nicotinic acid form, which is associated with headache and flushing. Good food sources of the B vitamins include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, soy products, and eggs.
Evening primrose oil
This oil contains fatty acids, including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which are believed to help maintain hormone balance. A Swiss study showed that 1,500 mg of evening primrose oil twice daily for 12 weeks resulted in a significant improvement in skin moisture, elasticity, firmness, fatigue resistance, and roughness.
The omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your skin against environmental assaults and in keeping moisture in and thus preventing dryness and the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Research also has shown that omega-3s have anti-inflammatory abilities, which are helpful for fighting inflammatory acne.
Omega-3s are found primarily in cold-water fatty fish, but lesser amounts are available in nuts, seeds, and seaweed. Supplements of omega-3s include fish oil and krill oil, and for vegans and those who want to avoid fish sources, algal oil. Although there is no official recommended daily allowance for omega-3s, a common recommendation is 250 to 500 mg of combined EPA and DHA to maintain overall health.
The mineral selenium is an antioxidant that can protect you against skin cancer from the sun. In a recent study from India, researchers found that a topical combination of selenium and probiotics provided significant protection against UV rays. A deficiency of selenium has been associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.
Brazil nuts are by far the richest source of selenium, trailed by seafood, brown rice, eggs, oatmeal, and spinach. The recommended daily allowance of selenium is 55 micrograms, which most adults get from their food. Selenium is available in multivitamin/mineral supplements and as a lone product.
Tulsi (holy basil)
This ancient herbal remedy has been shown scientifically to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral qualities, which is great news for anyone who is living with acne and trying to keep their skin clean and clear. You and your skin can benefit from tulsi by either drinking the tea or taking the oral supplement.
The bioactive ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has demonstrated an ability to improve a variety of skin conditions, including acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, facial photoaging, pruritus, psoriasis, and vitiligo, among others. In a review of the scientific evidence, investigators found that using turmeric/curcumin both orally and topically was beneficial for these skin health.
You can include turmeric in your diet by adding it to curries and other recipes. However, teas and supplements in the form of capsules are also available. For capsules, a suggested dose is 500 mg twice daily for several months, but it should not be taken long-term. Ask your healthcare provider about using this supplement.
This potent antioxidant not only battles skin damage associated with ultraviolet rays; it also promotes healing of wounds and protects your skin against environmental factors. Vitamin C is also necessary for the body to create collagen, one of the most critical building components for healthy skin.
It can be easy to get sufficient vitamin C if you eat fruits and vegetables. Among the best are bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange), blueberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes. However, vitamin C supplements (ascorbic acid) can be taken 500 to 1,000 mg daily.
This potent antioxidant and supplement can be used both orally and topically to improve your skin's health and glow. Its antioxidant properties fight inflammation and fight free radicals, and the vitamin also has moisturizing properties that can help relieve dry, flaking skin and itching.
Some research has shown that oral vitamin E can relieve symptoms of eczema and also be helpful for aging skin and sunburn, especially when applied topically. A recommended intake of supplemental vitamin E is 75 to 90 International Units (IU) daily, but when treating specific conditions, dosages are higher. For sunburn, for example, 1,000 IU natural vitamin plus 2 grams of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is recommended.
For optimal skin healing, you want to be sure to get enough zinc. This mineral helps keep your skin cell walls stable and assists in their division and growth. If you are not getting enough zinc, you may experience an itchy rash that looks like eczema, but it will not respond positively to moisturizers and lotions.
As an antioxidant, zinc also can protect your skin against ultraviolet ray damage. One key indication that zinc is so important for your skin is the presence of five times more of the mineral in the outer layer of skin than in the subcutaneous layer.
Foods rich in zinc include oysters, beans and legumes, almonds, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, and Alaskan king crab. Zinc supplements are available in several formulations, with zinc picolinate being the best absorbed. The recommended intake of zinc is 15 to 30 mg of elemental zinc.
One of the best ways to nourish and maintain skin health is to eat foods that are rich in nutrients shown to support skin components. Sometimes you need to complement those efforts with nutritional supplements for your skin, which not only boost your intake of those substances but also provide extra protection for your skin.
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