Supplements and Vitamins for Skin Care

Your skin, just like the rest of your body, needs certain amounts of specific nutrients to look its best.  Many nutritional imbalances in the body actually manifest as bad skin.  Conditions such as acne, psoriasis, dry skin, and even accelerated aging can be caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies or imbalances.  If this is the case, treating the skin with creams and exfoliation may not take care of the problem because it is internal.  You can use healthy skin vitamins to help you skin looks its best.  There are acne vitamins, anti aging vitamins, and vitamins for dry skin.

Even if your skin care problems aren’t caused by nutrition, getting the right nutrients is essential to good skin.  Many of your skin care needs can be met by eating good whole foods or a multivitamin.  If you are trying to remove wrinkles or scars, or just fight off the aging process in general, you will probably need more.  Most people don’t want to take 20 pills a day, so it is important to know what the best vitamins for skin are.

There is more to skin care supplements than vitamins and trace minerals.  Most skin care experts and anti aging researchers recommend taking antioxidants, which help to fight off free radical damage.  Free radicals cause oxidation of our cells and causes tissue damage that can lead to aging and even diseases like heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.

Alpha lipoic Acid
An important anti aging supplement is the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid because it helps the body recycle other antioxidants, which are often otherwise destroyed combating oxidative reactions. It also reduces the natural aging process called glycation, which causes tissue damage and reduced tissue integrity of skin cells.

To get the protective benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid, take 50 mgs twice a day, in the morning and at night.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids, or Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, are needed for human growth and development. They are not naturally produced by the body and must come from food.  There has been a lot of buzz about the health benefits of fish and fish oils, which contain large amounts of Omega-3’s.  Omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease and cancers.

The typical American Diet has and abundance of Omega-6 fatty acids, but is deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids.  The body needs a balance of these fatty acids where the Omega-6’s are no more than 4 times the Omega-3’s, but most diets give ratios that are between 11:1 to 30:1.  Because of this, you don’t really need an Omega-6 supplement.  There is one exception and it is Gamma Linolenic Acid, or GLA.  This is a bit of an unusual Omega-6 that behaves differently than the other fatty acids and is not common in our diet. It is used to reduce skin dryness, inflammation, and dermatitis.

To get the benefits of the essential fatty acids, take 2 grams of borage oil, 1 gram of flaxseed oil, 3 grams of fish oil daily.  You can also apply borage oil topically by using products that contain it, or diluting it in a carrier oil.  Get it naturally by eating more fatty fish in your diet, like salmon, herring, and mackerel.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most popular vitamins for healthy skin.  It is an important vitamin for skin repair and healing tissue damage.  It is also an anti oxidant that can reduce free radical damage.  As a bonus, it can help you prevent hair loss, strengthen your immune system, and burn more fat when you exercise.

Vitamin C is not one vitamin, but a family of vitamins and is also referred to as a Vitamin C complex.  Ascorbic Acid is the type of Vitamin C found in most supplements, but there are at least 7 other substances that are a type of Vitamin C, and these natural chemicals work together synergistically for maximum protective and anti aging benefits.  Although it is best to get as much of the whole Vitamin C complex from food as possible, many health benefits are reported from high doses of synthetically derived Vitamin C.  One of the best ways to get the whole complex is taking a supplement of Acerola Cherry Powder

The FDA recommends taking only 95 mgs of Vitamin C daily, but this amount has failed to produce the results that higher dosages of Vitamin C do in clinical studies.  The general recommendation from the Vitamin C Foundation is 3 grams daily, taken in 3 separate 1 gram doses throughout the day.  If you are going to start taking large doses of Vitamin C, start slowly and work your way up.  It is thought that taking a lot of vitamin C quickly cause side effects such as skin rashes and diarrhea that can be avoided by taking smaller amounts initially and increasing the dosage regularly until you get to the desired level.  Vitamin C has a very low toxicity and most side effects are temporary and not serious.

Since there is so much debate on how to get the best benefits from Vitamin C, it is difficult to give a concrete recommendation for skin care.  A single dose of Acerola Cherry powder is usually enough to provide more the “official” recommended dose of Vitamin C.  If you want more benefits, experiment with adding a regular Vitamin C as Ascorbic Acid supplement until you get around the 3 gram level.  Remember to take Vitamin C 2 or 3 times a day instead of all at once, if you are going over 1 gram total.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a popular topical treatment, but you can also get major antioxidant benefits benefits from taking Vitamin E supplements internally.  It’s a great vitamin for healthy skin.  Like most Vitamins, Vitamin E is not a single chemical, but a family of vitamins.  Vitamin E is broken down into isomers; alpha tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma tocopherol and delta tocopherol.  Most Vitamin E supplements are sold as alpha tocopherol, but consuming just this isomer in excess can interfere with the benefits of the other isomers.  Studies now indicate that Gamma Tocopherol is the most important and beneficial form of Vitamin E. Take a supplement that contains a full range of Vitamin C by looking for once that contains mixed tocopherols in addition to the alpha tocopherol.
Take at least 400 units or 400 mgs total of all Vitamin E isomers daily.

Tocotrienols

Tocotrienols are a family of substances that are very similar to Vitamin E.  They also come in 4 isomers of alpha beta gamma and delta tocotrienols, and the gamma isomer appears to have unique protective benefits.  These chemicals work synergistically with the Vitamin E family.  Tocotrienols are especially important for skin care and treating wrinkles because they may help fight off UV damage from sun exposure, which is well known to accelerate skin aging.

Tocotrienols are often conveniently found in whole Vitamin E supplements, so you may not even need to take another pill to get them into your diet.  There is no official recommendation, but skin care experts suggest taking up to a total of 20 mgs of all isomers daily.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a good vitamin for acne and wrinkles.  Retinoic acid, or Retin A is a form of Vitamin A and is one of the skin creams that is officially recognized to treat wrinkles.  Other skin creams contain retinols, which are available without a prescription.

Vitamin A is important to take internally as well because it enhances cell renewal and skin regeneration.  Vitamin A should be taken as beta-carotene.  This is the antioxidant that your body needs to produce all forms of the Vitamin A retinols.  It does not have the same toxicity risks associated with regular Vitamin A.

Look for supplements that contain mostly or all beta-carotene, with a dosage of around 25,000 units.  Taking a lot of beta-carotene increases your body’s need for Vitamin E.  If you get up to 50,000 units of beta-carotene, you will need to boost your intake of Vitamin E to 1000 units to compensate.

B Vitamins

All of the B Vitamins help the skin’s condition in different ways. Thiamin (B1) is an antioxidant and helps the body rid itself of toxins.  Riboflavin (B2) strengthens and repair the skin and also helps the hair and nails.  Niacinamide (B3) helps improve circulation and can inhibit acne.  Pantothenic Acid (B5) helps reduce stress and helps regulate the adrenal gland.  Cobalamin (B12) helps enhance the effects of other vitamins and increases energy.  These are all important acne vitamins for clear skin.

You can reach your B vitamin needs by taking a basic multivitamin or B vitamin complex supplement.

DHEA

DHEA is an important precursor hormone that the body needs to form many other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.  It is naturally made by the adrenal gland and your body’s production of it peaks at age 25.  Unfortunately, it begins to decline after that, and by the time you reach your sixties, you have less than a third than you were producing in your twenties.

DHEA helps to regulate your production of skin oils.  Dry skin related to aging can be caused by low levels of DHEA.  It can be applied topically and is easily absorbed by the skin.  Some studies have shown that topically applied DHEA can inhibit skin tumors from forming and may prevent skin cancer.  It also helps heal burns faster and protects the skins blood vessels.

There is not a daily recommendation for DHEA and the amount you need depends on your age.  This supplement is not that useful for people until they reach their thirties.  Typical recommendations from researchers range from 15-50 mgs.  Since DHEA is a hormone, it is best to tell your doctor you are taking it.  There aren’t many reported serious side effects, but since it can increase testosterone production, it may aggravate prostate problems in men.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q-10, or ubiquinone, is a vitaminlike substance that your body produces naturally.  It is a powerful antioxidant and an essential substance for cellular energy production.  It can also be applied directly to the skin and is a popular active in wrinkle creams.  One study on crows feet found that that daily application of Co Q-10 for ten weeks reduced wrinkle depth by 43%, and increased the skin’s UV resistance.

You can also buy Coenzyme Q-10 in the form Ubiquinol.  Your body naturally converts Co Q-10 to this chemical.  As we age, our ability to convert it can diminish, so it may be better for people over 45 because it is more readily absorbed.

Like DHEA, your production of Coenzyme Q 10 begins to decline as you age.  If you are under 40, take between 30-100mg daily. Once you are into your forties, take 100mg a day.

Copper and Zinc

Copper and Zinc are also needed for healthy skin.  Zinc is used by the body to heal wound and produce collagen. It also has astringent properties and is commonly used to treat acne.  Copper is an essential trace element that is necessary for the production of superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant.  Together with Vitamin C, copper and zinc are used to develop elastin.

Most people get enough copper in their diet, but taking zinc supplements can interfere with the body’s absorption of copper.  Take 50mg of zinc along with 5 mg of copper.  Take with Vitamin C for maximum effects.

Phytonutrients – Fruits and Vegetables

You may know someone who eats very healthy and has wonderful skin.  In addition to skin vitamins, people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables get the benefits of phytonutrients, which do wonders for the skin.  There are hundreds of known phytonutrients, or phytochemicals.  These chemicals are just starting to be understood and are showing to be powerful antioxidants.   Some of the most effective health supplements for skin care are fruit and vegetable powders.  It seems too simple, but this is a very important step for reducing acne, wrinkles, or managing other skin conditions like dryness or eczema.  Even if you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet, which you should, a supplement can help you get a broader range of phytochemicals into your system.

Phytonutrients appear to be most effective when mixed together, so look for a supplement that has a blend of fruit and vegetable powders.  They are available in tablet and powder form.  You can also drink green smoothies for your skin, which you can improve by adding the powder supplements.

The purpose of using supplements in an anti aging regimen is to attempt recreate the biochemistry your body had when it was young and to slow free radical damage.  Many scientists believe that the Recommended Daily Allowance guidelines are insufficient as we age, because the amounts were primarily determined from studies on the minimum nutrients needed for rats to breed.  Later studies found that you need higher amounts of nutrients to get the protective benefits.  Don’t be overly concerned with the negative press surrounding the “dangers” of taking vitamins.  No one has ever died directly from consuming vitamins.  That cannot be said about many medicines properly prescribed by doctors, which kill thousands of people annually.

If you are trying to remove wrinkles or scars, supplementing will ensure your skin has enough essential nutrients to rebuild itself.  You can also improve your absorption of supplements by taking them throughout the day, instead of in one session.