Winter skin care can be challenging, especially in a place like Oklahoma, where the winter winds are dry and harsh. Moisturizer is a must, and I find myself practically bathing in it during the colder months of the year. Recent research, however, has shown that healthy skin actually starts from the inside.
Have you ever thought about how your diet may be affecting your skin? Missing nutrients can often contribute to problems such as dry skin, inflammation, discoloration and acne. Some nutrient deficiencies can even contribute to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The good news is, these problems can be minimized and the overall condition of your skin improved by the simple addition of five supplements to your diet.
More Than Just “Skin Deep”
Most of us know that skin is the largest organ of the human body. It serves a number of important functions, such as protecting the body from pathogens. The skin is the first line of defense in protecting against potentially harmful environmental toxins—all the more reason to take good care of it, right? The skin also plays an important role in storage and synthesis. Water and lipids are stored in the skin, and when the body is getting adequate amounts of these nutrients, the skin has a healthy glow and the appearance of fine lines is greatly reduced.
Melissa Bolek is an Edmond pharmacist who has had extensive training in clinical skin care. “We carry a line of dermatological-grade skin care products. I never knew how much went into maintaining healthy skin, but you have to think of it from a cellular level,” she says. The standard American diet is high in chemicals and preservatives, but low in antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables, which can really take a toll on your skin. Dietary supplements can help fill in those gaps in a number of ways that are beneficial to the whole body.
Supplements for Healthy Skin
“I recommend a couple of supplements to reduce inflammation in the skin, as well as the entire body,” says Bolek. “Pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements are wonderful for reducing inflammation, and can help the skin restore lipids that may have been depleted, which can emphasize the appearance of fine lines. I recommend 1200 mg of EHA/DHA per day.
Also, a high-potency probiotic can work wonders for acne and inflammation-prone skin.” Probiotics can help decrease inflammation, regulate digestion and increase immunity, among other benefits.
To really focus on reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, Bolek recommends two supplements. “At least 1000 mg of Vitamin C per day and a supplement containing choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid will help to increase collagen production in the skin.” A high-quality Vitamin C can be found at any pharmacy.
Products containing the choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid can be found at many specialty and community pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for more details about supplements containing these products, which can also improve the overall condition of hair and nails.
Finally, Bolek recommends antioxidants to decrease free radical damage to the skin and its components. “Here again is where vitamin C comes into play, as it serves both purposes. In addition, a mixed blend of vitamin E isomers (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) should be added here as well, which can help reduce the signs of aging and damage to the skin. Try to take at least 400 IU daily to obtain the maximum benefit.”
In addition to fish oil, probiotics, vitamins C and E, and choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid, it is important to remember perhaps the most important nutritional element for skin care: water. Drinking water will help flush unhealthy toxins from the body, including the skin. It will keep those cells hydrated, reducing the appearance of fine lines, and can help to treat skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. So go ahead and grab those healthy skin supplements…just don’t forget to wash them down with a big glass of water!
Skin Supplements: A Summary
- Fish Oil. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body, prevent heart disease and help with conditions such as clinical depression, anxiety, cancer and macular degeneration. Fish oil can be obtained from eating fish (such as mackereal, tuna, salmon and sardines) or by taking supplements available at drug and health food stores.
- Probiotics. These live microorganisms, often called “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria,” are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human stomach. Probiotics are available in the form of dietary supplements or in foods such as yogurt, miso, tempeh, some juices and soy beverages.
- Vitamin C. An antioxidant that helps block damage caused by free radicals, which are largely responsible for the aging process and may play a role in cancer, heart disease and arthritis. All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C, but highest sources include citrus fruits, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
- Vitamin E. An antioxidant like vitamin C, vitamin E also helps protect from free radicals. Good sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, margarine, nuts, seeds, some cereal and leafy greens. Supplements are available, but may be harmful for individuals taking certain medications. Check with your health care provider before taking a vitamin E supplement.
- Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid. Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid is thought to help restore elasticity and suppleness to sun-damaged skin, as well as strengthen brittle hair and nails. It is available as a nutritional supplement at many health food and drug stores.
- Water. Dehydration can happen very quickly and has serious effects on your skin, kidneys and general health. Unless it is well hydrated and its pores are not blocked, skin cannot properly eliminate toxins from the body. To allow your skin to function properly, the human body requires 2-3 liters of water (about 12-13 eight ounce cups) per day.
Shannon Fields is a freelance writer from Edmond and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Innovative Pharmacy Solutions.