We all know a big part of a healthy lifestyle includes getting the proper nutrients your body requires. Certain vitamins contribute to different types of health benefits, so it’s important to understand which ones you need for your particular health concerns.
When it comes to your largest organ, your skin, there are ways to protect and prevent it from discomfort or damage. Whether you’re struggling with acne or just want to start preventative care for graceful aging, certain vitamins can help you reach your skin health goals.
Your skin is constantly exposed to environmental pollutants, air, and UV radiation. These environmental elements combined with your diet (i.e. alcohol, processed sugars), the products you use, and stress levels can take a toll on the health of your skin.
Free radicals and oxidative stress
Skin damage is due to the overproduction of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules that are unstable and highly reactive. They can destroy cells that promote collagen production.
Foods high in free radicals are foods that are high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, as well as processed meats such as sausage. Excessive alcohol use and smoking can also take a toll on healthy skin.
Why don’t you want free radicals?
These uncharged molecules are highly reactive, so they can create a process within your body called oxidative stress.
This occurs when there are more free radicals in your body than there are naturally occurring antioxidants. This imbalance can break down your skin’s collagen and can damage skin cells.
Your body is equipped with free-radical fighting antioxidants that neutralize the imbalance and can return your body to balance. However, there are certain nutrients that are high in antioxidants that you should be aware of.
Here’s a list of vitamins that help to keep your skin balanced, healthy, and collagen-producing.
Normal skin already contains pretty high levels of vitamin C. It is one of the most potent antioxidants in the skin. As we age these levels decrease.
Excessive sun exposure can also decrease vitamin C levels. Vitamin C has many important biological functions that are relevant to skin health such as wound healing, antioxidant protection, and the formation of collagen.
You can find vitamin C in foods such as citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), red bell peppers, and broccoli. Adding these foods to your diet can increase your vitamin C levels. People also can take a vitamin C supplement daily to increase their intake.
Vitamin C can also be applied topically in the form of a cream or serum. Depending on the contents of the topical product, vitamin C may penetrate the epidermal barrier to plump and firm skin.
Other known benefits of vitamin C for skincare include brightening of tone, restoring a youthful appearance, and helping to protect against harmful UV rays and sun damage.
Vitamin E is another important antioxidant-rich vitamin used in dermatology. Due to its fat-soluble, antioxidant properties, it helps protect the skin from free radicals and solar radiation. It has been used in cosmetics for over 50 years.
Vitamin E is normally produced in the skin’s naturally occurring oil called sebum. It plays an important role in protecting the skin from sun damage by absorbing the energy from UV light. It is the most abundant antioxidant produced in the skin. People with “oily” skin may have a higher level of vitamin E than those why “dry” skin.
Foods high in Vitamin E are nuts, seeds, spinach, whole grains, and olive oil. Our bodies need foods like these to keep the immune system strong and protect body tissue.
Use Vitamin C and E Together for Added Boost!
If you choose to apply vitamin E topically, it is suggested that the product feature other vitamins (such as vitamin C) because vitamin E on its own can be unstable as soon as the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamins C and E supplements can be taken together to optimize skin health.
A lesser-known vitamin, vitamin K, helps skin wellness by supporting blood clotting and wound healing. It also helps our bodies recover from bruising. You can find vitamin K in food such as kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and green beans.
There are plenty of topical creams that have vitamin K. These products can help the skin produce collagen and new skin cells to support skin health. When applied topically, it can also help with the skin's inflammatory response due to its antioxidant properties.
The research behind vitamin K
According to one study, three groups of people with existing flesh wounds were divided and given three different creams. Group A was given vitamin K, group B was given phenytoin, and group C was given Eucerin. After two weeks, it was shown that group A showed significant healing.
Though it is not necessarily a vitamin, Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that our bodies produce naturally. And we know that antioxidants play a major part in skin health.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a compound that helps regenerate damaged skin cells and maintains energy levels in skin cells. It also protects against oxidative stress.
CoQ10 occurs naturally in the body, specifically on the outermost barrier layer of the skin. Using products high in CoQ10 can protect the outermost skin layer at any age.
You can find CoQ10 in fatty fishes such as salmon or tuna, organ meat such as liver, and whole grains. Not only are these foods great for healthy skin, but they can promote energy levels and faster metabolism.
CoQ10 supplements act as an antioxidant to protect cells. It also promotes healthy hair as it boosts the process that produces keratin (a protein found in hair). Most vitamins tied to skin health can also help hair health.
Another essential nutrient for skin health is vitamin A. You may have heard of retinol (common in anti-aging products), which is another term for vitamin A. Our body does produce vitamin A naturally, but as we age, wrinkles become more apparent due to a lack of collagen-producing skin cells.
Foods high in vitamin A are cheese (yes, that's right!), yogurt, eggs, and oily fish. Yellow, red, and green vegetables are also high in vitamin A (think carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes).
There are two types of vitamin A: retinoids and carotenoids. Let’s break these two down a little further.
Retinoids are a compound in vitamin A that comes from animals. Retinoids help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by supporting the production of collagen. They can also help improve skin tone by producing new blood cells and balancing color. Retinoids have been known to fade dark spots and soften rough skin, as well.
Carotenoids are a compound in vitamin A that comes from plants. The body converts carotenoids’ main property beta-carotene into vitamin A (or retinol). Beta-carotene is the red-organic pigment found in plants, fruits, and vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
In topical products, vitamin A has been known to promote skin cell turnover and improve visible signs of aging. Beauty products often feature this vitamin in terms of their "anti-aging" creams and ointments.
Vitamin A supplements support skin health just as topical products do, but they work from the inside out. Have you ever heard that eating carrots is good for your vision? Well, these supplements can also help your get your daily vitamin A for better vision.
Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is essential for the proper function of nearly every tissue in the body including skin, heart, brain, and immune system. Though there is an emphasis on sun protection when it comes to skin health, your skin does crave a certain amount of sunlight to absorb that nourishing vitamin D.
Like other skin-boosting vitamins, vitamin D can be found in fatty organ meat (such as liver), salmon, tuna, and egg yolks. Vitamin D may also help enhance the skin’s immune system to support against premature aging in the skin. The rich color component can help give your skin a healthy glow and boost tone.
Numerous factors affect how vitamin D is produced in the skin. People who work indoors all day long or experience seasonal stress tend to get less vitamin D than the skin desires. Vitamin D supplements have been growing in popularity for those reasons particularly.
If you are not reaching your suggested amounts of vitamin D you may notice you are more tired than normal. Vitamin D may also help support better bone and muscle health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Though it's not a vitamin, it's important to include omega-3 fatty acids in this list as they are high up on the skin health list. Once again, omega-3 is found in fatty fishes such as salmon and tuna. This is why they are commonly referred to as fish oil pills or fish oil supplements.
Omega-3 helps a number of health concerns such as a healthy inflammatory response and a healthy heart, but they also promote the balance of antioxidants in the skin. They have been known to promote shiny hair, stronger nails, and overall health.
They can also promote a healthy gut which we know leads to better overall health. Your gut is tied closely to the other functioning organs in your body, so keeping a healthy gut, means healthy skin, heart, brain, and overall wellness.
Summary: Vitamins for Skin Health
Our bodies create vitamins that we need naturally. However, as we age, the formation of these vitamins becomes less and less. That is why it's important to make sure you are eating a healthy diet consistently.
Also, it's important to know what supplements and products you need. A daily supplement can sometimes be the key to maintaining your vitamin levels.
Whether you're investing in capsules or topical creams, these key vitamins are essential for skin health. You want vitamins that will help to keep your skin producing collagen. Most of the vitamins listed here play a key role in doing so.
You can incorporate these vitamins into your lifestyle by knowing what foods contain them and adding them to your diet. You will want to focus on fish and eggs (particularly the yolk) for protein. If you are vegan, resort to nuts for these skin-boosting nutrients.
Citrus fruits such as oranges are a great source of vitamin C which will give your skin a natural glow and diminish dark spots. When it comes to complexion, a combination of vitamin C and E can work wonders.
Resort to your leafy greens such as kale or spinach for your vitamin K intake. Vitamin K will help your body produce proteins that recover bruising and wounds.
When you are shopping for beauty products, you can take this knowledge with you to the shelves. Look for products that include these essential vitamins. Vitamin A tackles fine lines and wrinkles, so it's a great addition to your daily skincare routine.
Supplements are also a great way to increase your intake of these essential vitamins. If you combine supplements with a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the benefits can be profound.
They come in powder form, like our delicious Primal Greens powder which is easy to blend into a morning smoothie. In fact, why not check out this delicious Get Glowing Greens Smoothie to give Primal Greens a try?
If you feel like you are deficient in one or more of these vitamins or you think you could benefit from adding them to your diet, it's always important to consult your doctor.
IT'S ABOUT YOU. IT'S ABOUT YOUR HEALTH. IT'S ABOUT RECONNECTING.