Supplements for skin health, do we really need em?

JOINT POST ALERT!!!

So, seeing as together we have pretty good knowledge of both skin health and nutrition for health we thought we’d combine our expertise in this post. So if you’ve ever wondered what effect what you put in your mouth has on your skin health and appearance, look no further!

It’s often said that “you are what you eat” (mostly notably by well-meaning parents coercing children into eating vegetables… although who wants to look like broccoli anyway?!). More than any other part of our body though this applies explicitly to our skin. Skin is the largest organ in the body and is often what we notice first about others, whether consciously or not.

Our diet can have a huge impact on our skin and dietary intake is correlated with increased (meat, dairy, butter) and decreased (fruit, vegetables) risk of skin ageing and damage. However, there may be a difference between having enough nutrients to support healthy skin and achieving ‘optimal nutrition’ for best possible skin appearance and healing. Nutrient deficiency can result in skin-specific symptoms that affect skin function and appearance. Below are some of the nutrients essential for basic skin health:

Vitamin C

This is an all-star antioxidant vitamin that I’m sure we’ve all heard about through the terrible tales of sailors with bleeding gums, teeth dropping out and god-awful skin. This is because vitamin C is involved in collagen synthesis and protects against free radical damage (see Zoe’s excellent blog for what on earth a free radical is). Therefore, sufficient intake is imperative for normal skin function and might even protect against environmental pollution and UV damage.

Good sources: citrus fruits, bell and chilli peppers, blackcurrants, kale, broccoli, sprouts.

Vitamin E

Another antioxidant hero that helps to prevent oxidation (damage) to the lipid membranes that surround our cells. Deficiency of this essential vitamin is rare in humans though.

Good sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, salmon, trout, avocado, oils (sunflower, wheat germ, hazelnut, almond)

Copper

Although we only need a very small amount this mineral from our diet, it’s also an important free radical scavenger and essential in healing and repair of tissues via formation of collagen and elastin (super important components in the skin).

Good sources: oysters, squid, beef and lamb liver, dark chocolate, sesame seeds, cashews.

There are a wide range of copper rich foods

Omega 3 & 6

These are both important for skin structure and providing anti-inflammatory functions. There is even some indication that long chain omega 3s (EPA and DHA) can be effective at reducing UV damage (again see Zoe’s awesome blog on the evils of UV rays!).

Good sources of omega 3: mackerel, salmon, herring, oysters, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans

Good sources of omega 6: soybean oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, tofu, walnuts, peanut butter

Now over to Zoe…

So, I’m going to talk more about what effects skin-concern-specific supplements can have. Supplements are now a huge thing in the Aesthetic industry. Lifestyle and diet can have a big impact on our skin, remember healthy skin starts from within!

Love The Skin You’re In

Zinc

This mineral is frequently used in the treatment andmanagement of acne. It is known to reduce keratinocyte activity, reduce inflammatory response to bacteria and improve immunity.

A study of 332 acne patients published in Dermatology compared oral zinc supplementation (30mg) with oral minocyline (100mg) an antibiotic commonly used for the treatment of acne. The pimple count in the zinc group at 12 weeks reduced by 50% compared with a 67% reduction in the minocycline group. Inflammation also decreased by 31.2% for the zinc group. The overall conclusion was that minocylcine was only 17% more effective for the treatment of acne that zinc [1]. Given that we live in a world where antibiotic overuse is a global health concern, the role of zinc in acne management should not be ignored.

Probiotics

A happy, healthy gut can potentially have a correlation with happy, healthy skin! Eighty percent of our immune system is in our gut and a weakened immune system can lead to inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. As Madi said your skin is the biggest organ in your body, however it’s the last one to receive nutrients. By getting your gut and immune system working more effectively this can have a direct impact on promoting healthy skin. For more info read Kim Pearson’s article on probiotics and how they might be able to improve your skin and overall health.

Probiotic foods and supplements

Hyaluronic acid

We’ve talked about Hyaluronic acid before our post on how moisturisers could be damaging your skin post, but did you know you can also take it orally! Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring molecule in the skin and can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water so is super hydrating. Taken orally it might also help to reduce the depth of deep wrinkles as well.

Collagen

Anti-ageing drinks are very popular in the aesthetic industry now. Studies have been done on bovine (beef source) and marine (fish source) collagen sources. The process of hydrolysing collagen breaks it down into much smaller, bioavailable amino acids and peptides that are absorbed into the blood stream and taken around the body. We make 1% less collagen every year from the age of 20 so oral collagen aims to increase collagen formation from a cellular level without any painful treatments! Studies have shown small clinical results for 4000mg to 10,000mg dosages, typically taken in liquid form.

The leading brands in the industry are:

  • ANP (Advanced nutrition programme) – Broad range of clinically backed vitamins and minerals
  • ZENii – High strength collagen and a broad range of supplements and liquid products formulated for specific skin conditions e.g. acne, rosacea, dehydration etc.
  • Skinaid – High strength collagen beauty drink
  • Rejuvenated – High strength collagen, hydrating drinks, protein shakes and more.

Take homes

What we put into our bodies can have a huge impact on our skin in terms of softness, elasticity, dryness and health. However, once we have sufficient levels of macronutrients and micronutrients from our diets, we don’t know for sure whether supplementing with additional nutrients can actually make much difference. If they do actually improve our skin health this is likely to be very small (potentially not visible) improvements and are likely to only work for some people.

This doesn’t mean you have to throw out all the supplements you have but just make sure your actual diet is balanced, varied and colourful first. Doing your research and being realistic with your expectations is a good place to start!

If you have any questions or would like any suggestions on clinics in your area feel free to contact us.

Thank you for reading

xxx

Zoe & Madi


[1] Dermatology 2001;203:135–140 Multicenter Randomized Comparative Double-Blind Controlled Clinical Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of Zinc Gluconate versus Minocycline Hydrochloride in the Treatment of Inflammatory Acne Vulgaris

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