People are often quick to credit enviably clear complexions to great genes or potent products, but naturally bright skin often starts with diet choices. You’re probably aware that some of your habits affect your skin — things like whether you wash your face daily or whether you wear SPF regularly, but more and more research shows a strong connection between the nutrients you are getting and your complexion. Read on to find out which nutrients and vitamins that skin of yours may be screaming out for, and what you can do to get naturally luminous skin.
The 8 best vitamins and supplements for naturally clear skin
VITAMIN A – The acne antagonizer
Dermatologists often recommend vitamin A to patients with acne-prone skin. This is because vitamin A is a very effective antioxidant that decreases the size of sebaceous glands and the amount of oil skin produces.
Antioxidants protect the skin by limiting the production of free radicals in the body, which otherwise damages skin cells. When your body doesn’t have enough vitamin A, dead skin cells build up, clogging pores and triggering breakouts. Vitamin A has been shown to:
- Help the body shed off dead skin cells. (1)
- Reduce inflammation. (2) If you’re experiencing a breakout, vitamin a can help calm down swollen, red areas on the skin. Patients with severe acne were found to have lower levels of vitamin A. (3)
We highly recommend consulting a doctor before taking vitamin A in supplement form. This is because studies have shown that high levels of vitamin A may lead to vomiting, dry skin, hair loss, or birth defects. (4)
VITAMIN C – The fixer-upper
If you have scarring, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, are recovering from a major acne breakout, or just generally feel like your lifestyle habits have led to having duller skin when you look in the mirror, you may want to consider asking your doctor about supplementing with vitamin C.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect your body’s cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when bodies convert food into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun. (6) This powerful antioxidant has been shown to:
- Help boost collagen production. (7)
- Repair sun-damaged skin when taken orally for at least 8 weeks. (8)
- Have a strong, hydrating effect on dry skin. (9)
- Help heal wounds and address discoloration when applied topically and, daily for at least 3 months. It can also help smooth out scars and fade brown spots. (10)
A Note for sensitive skin & topical Vitamin C. When used topically, Vitamin C can be too harsh for certain skin types, and may even react poorly with ingredients found in some cosmetic products. (11) If you have sensitive skin, ask your doctor about supplementing vitamin C orally.
If you are over 30 and feel like the changes in your complexion may have to do with your age, you may want to consider taking collagen daily. (13) In fact, the typical woman will likely lose 1 to 2 percent of her body’s collagen every year as early as her mid-30s, the rate increasing with age. (14) Ingesting collagen has been shown to:
Result in anti-aging effects for the skin and boost skin collagen production. (15)
Increase skin elasticity. (16)
MAGNESIUM – The de-stressor
Magnesium can help improve your skin’s overall appearance.
If you feel like your breakouts are connected to stress or are hormonal, consider asking your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium can help improve your skin’s overall appearance. Magnesium can be helpful in reducing acne and other skin disorders by lowering cortisol levels, stabilizing hormonal imbalances, and improving overall cellular function. Magnesium has been shown to:
- Minimize Inflammation. (18)
- Reduce levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. (19)
- Make vitamin C more effective if you have enough magnesium. (20)
Your body actually releases magnesium as a defense against stress, but sometimes you need more if you are not getting enough in your diet. Incorporating a daily supplement may give you the amount you need to clear up your skin.
ZINC – The head healer
Using zinc shampoo can help reduce stress-related scalp acne.
When zits happen, zinc can help. Zinc is another powerful antioxidant and important micronutrient required for the normal functioning of the skin. Feeling stressed out and noticed you have what feels like tiny pimples on your scalp? You could likely benefit from getting more zinc in your diet orally or try a topical zinc treatment, such as zinc shampoo. (23) Zinc has been shown to:
- Successfully treat erosive pustular and crusting of the scalp when taken orally in zinc sulfate form. (24)
- Assist with the healing of damaged skin (25). Topically applied zinc can help to treat acne and accelerate wound healing.
- Pajamas treated with zinc have been shown to be effective in the treatment in the quality of sleep and stress of Atopic Dermatitis (AD) suffering individuals. In one specific study, zinc oxide-functionalized textile was shown to control infection and reduce inflammation. (26)
Omega-3 fatty acids have proven to help lessen the redness of the skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the best natural anti-inflammatories on the planet. And if you suffer from psoriasis, you definitely want to ask your doctor about getting them through a dietary supplement. Supplementary treatment with omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to help treat psoriasis. (28) Omega-3s have also been shown to:
- Counteract inflammation of the skin. (29)
- Help lessen the redness of the skin. (30)
- A lack of omega-3 has been linked to rough, scaly skin and dermatitis. (31)
VITAMIN E – The environmental protector
Vitamin E oil helps with acute sub damage to the skin.
Using a vitamin E oil can actually somewhat lessen the effects of spending a lot of time outside without proper SPF protection. And it has been shown to be especially effective at repairing acute sun damage (i.e. sunburns) when taken in combination with vitamin C. (33) Vitamin E has also been shown to:
- Reduce acute and chronic skin damage caused by UV irradiation. (34)
- Neutralize free radicals and act as a powerful antioxidant. (35)
- Improve immune function and skin durability. (36)
According to the National Institutes of Health (37), teens, adults, and pregnant women should consume around 15 milligrams of vitamin E (mg) each day. We recommend asking your doctor about supplementing vitamin E topically before bed or orally.
It is essential to have enough vitamin D to help treat skin damage and keep skin healthy.
If you have sun-damaged skin, vitamin D can also be especially beneficial. Vitamin D has been shown to:
- Help heal skin and address discoloration from long-term sun damage. (38)
- Researchers are exploring the relationship between vitamin D and skin health more. (39) Preliminary findings show that a deficiency in Vitamin D can make you more prone to suffering from acne.
Did you know?
In a recent study, people with acne were shown to suffer from vitamin E, A, and zinc deficiencies. (30)
Youthful skin often means fewer sweets in your diet. The ingestion of sugar, in particular, has been shown to accelerate the signs of aging. (21)
Self-confidence is often negatively affected by acne, and depending on the severity, studies have shown that acne can have a pretty huge and devastating impact on our mental health if left untreated. (5)
A few randomized trials have shown that herbs and spices, such as oregano, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and garlic are effective for the treatment of dermatological disorders. (17)
If you think acne only happens to teens, think again. Studies show between 40 and 55% of adults in the US deal with low-grade acne. (22)
Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red grape skins, has been found to prevent the wrinkles, lines, and sagging caused by environmental skin agents like smog and second-hand smoke. Resveratrol is available in capsule form in our office! (27)
If you need help putting together a healthy diet and supplements to achieve healthier, glowing skin, set up a consultation with me and I’ll put you on the right path.