I get asked this question all the time. Nutrition is a very complex issue but I've tried to come up with the main points you need to know without getting too deep in the weeds of it....
What you need to know first and foremost is that supplements do not take the place of a healthy diet or lifestyle. They "supplement" it. Healthy skin cells grow from the inside out and while nutrients come from food sometimes we do not get a high enough amount of those nutrients for whatever reason. Either the food we're buying isn't grown with the best farming practices and the soil is depleted of what it needs to produce the best quality fruits and veggies, or maybe we live in an area where there isn't enough varied nutrient-rich foods available to us year-round. Or maybe we eat healthy most of the time but occasionally slack off and have a bad week or month diet-wise.
Here's my short list of common nutrients and how they support the skin. You can choose to supplement but I also included food sources where applicable.
Zinc In some cases acne may be a symptom of zinc deficiency along with decreased hair and nail growth. Zinc regulates oil production and can help existing acne heal as well as help prevent new acne from forming. Food sources for zinc: beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, turkey , quinoa and shrimp.
Vitamins C Vitamin C is an antioxidant that combats and neutralizes free radicals (bad-guy destructive cells) in the body. It stimulates fibroblasts, and is required for collagen production.Vitamin C also helps heal wounds and minimize scarring. Whole food sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, pineapples, and kiwis.
Vitamin D3 Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D, because it is directly accepted by and absorbed into the body. Vitamin D provides antioxidant protection, aids in skin cell metabolism and growth, and strengthens the lipid barrier. Healthy vitamin D levels might help prevent skin from prematurely aging but too much sun leads to accelerated skin aging. Some studies have found that vitamin D can help treat skin conditions like dry skin, psoriasis, or eczema. I suggest getting your D levels checked before you supplement and get the advice of your doctor or Naturopath on what kind of supplement to purchase. Foods with vitamin D3 include: salmon, tuna, egg yolks and mushrooms. (You will have to eat ALOT of these foods to get adequate vitamin D so a supplement may be your best bet)
Omega 3s Healthy fats are good to consume becasue fat is an imporant part of the skin itself. The cells and structures of the skin are held together by a layer of lipds (fats). This lipid layer dimenishes as we age so we need to consume healthy fats to keep as much of it as we can. Consuming healthy fats does not clog the skin or cause acne either, that's an old wives tale. There is so much information out there on omega 3s I could really bore you to death with it, but long story short, it hydrates and moisturizes the skin and prevents inflammation. (Inflammation is like gasoline thrown on the fire of aging so we want to prevent it as best we can for sure!) Food sources for your omega 3s include: salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Collagen Collagen is protein. Over time, the ideal levels of collagen our bodies naturally produce begin to wane. Collagen fibers break down or no longer regenerate, and lead to a “deflation” effect on the surface of the skin. The research indicates that around age 40 regenerating of collagen in the skin drops dramatically and you don't even want to know the numbers once you hit age 60.... If you don't feel like adding more chicken skin or gelatinous meat to your diet then you probably want to take a collagen supplement. I suggest marine (fish) collagen if you really want to maximize the anti-aging benefit since marine collagen seems to be more bio-available and effective on the skin. Grass-fed bovine (cow) collagen is great for overall health and will definatley benefit the skin too.
With supplements just like skincare you usually get what you pay for. Always look for a brand that does third party testing and good manufacturing practices (GMP) and choose brands who source their ingredients from whole foods. As I've mentioned before I purchase some of my supplements from my Naturopath but here are a few of my favorites that I have personally used and that you can get in our boutique at Skin Essentials:
Avogen From the makers of 302 Skincare. You've probably experienced the topical benefits of 302's skincare regimen, well this is the internal version! Six weeks of taking Avogen has been shown to help fix abnormal skin cells, boosts energy in the skin, softens the skin and strengthens hair and nails. Each Avogen dose is like eating several avocados but without all the calories and also without playing that tricky game of eating them at just the right time before they go bad! (You can actually purchase Avogen supplements right here on my website.)
Trust Your Gut Taking a good probiotic can really improve acne symptoms. Restoring the balance of your micro biome causes all your organs to just function better and the skin is after all, a giant organ. Trust Your Gut also contains a prebiotic which is basically "food" to help the probiotics stay alive longer and do their job. Ora Organic's Probiotic Blend contains clinically documented and acid-resistant strains to give a comprehensive mix of probiotic species for optimal digestive health, immune function, mood balance, hair & skin health, and pathogen fighting support (candida, yeast, bacterial and viral).
Pearl I could write a separate blog just about the benefits of using pearl powder, it's history and how it's made. It really is a fascinating topic...But the short version is that pearl stimulates skin cells to produce collagen, promote cellular repair and hydration and protect skin from pollution and outside elements. Sun Potion's Pearl is an excellent wildcrafted source. You can put it in your smoothie or apply it directly to the skin. We're also excited that one of our new skincare lines, Dermaki, utilizes Pearl in many of their products!
Appley Ever After This is the easiest detoxing you'll ever do, just pop a couple of these tablets! Organic apple cider vinegar detoxifies the liver which in turn helps the skin look amazing. However, if you've ever drank apple cider vinegar you know that it's some potent stuff to swallow. I'm loving these pills....easy-peasy!
Yin Power This tonic blend contains Ingredients Organic Reishi Mushroom, Wildharvested He Shou Wu Extract, Wildharvested Pearl Powder, Tocos, Organic Ashwagandha Extract, Wildharvested Pine Pollen, Wildharvested Astragalus Extract, Organic Shatavari. Add this to your tea or your favorite smoothie. This amazing combination of adaptogens can harmonize your whole system from the inside out. Yin Power can help support: Immunity, Hormonal Balance, Mental Clarity, Stress Relief, Cellular Regeneration, Radiance, Healthy Circulation, Emotional Equilibrium and Libido
Thanks for reading my little blog, I hope it helped you to be more informed about supplements for beauty. Do you have questions on how to support your skin nutritionally either with supplements or food? Drop me a line or book a Holistic Skincare Consultation with me soon!
Disclaimer: This is useful information I've learned in my 14+ years as an Esthetician. This is not to be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult your physician if you have questions about changing your diet and taking supplements, especially if you are being treated for a chronic health condition or if you are taking medications.