The Skin Supplements You Actually Need

We are bombarded with a sea of vitamin and mineral supplements these days! On top of this, topical skin creams containing vitamins are also extremely popular. Who feels overwhelmed? What actually works?

I strongly felt the need to clear up all confusion for you and dig into the science. And, what better to way to get this knowledge out to so many of you than for it to be shared on Australia’s leading online beauty destination, Gritty Pretty. I was so grateful when the Editor and Founder in Chief, Eleanor Pedleton agreed that there was confusion and asked me to answer these questions:

  1. What are the overall benefits of taking supplements for the skin?

  2. Which well known supplements (collagen, zinc, vitamin C and fish oil) actually produce benefits and can you get enough from food? Are they really necessary?

  3. What other key supplements can we take that can improve skin quality?

  4. All in all, which ingestible vitamins and supplements will actually improve our skin health, which can we obtain enough of through diet, and which should we use topically?

  5. What other health products can we consume that will a dramatic impact on skin health?

Below is the article for Gritty Pretty.

Then, I share my detailed answers with you all. Lots of this didn’t get shared (of course, I go into FAR too much detail) but it really is so important for you all to read. You will definitely learn a-lot!

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The Skin Supplements You Actually Need

According to a Nutritionist

My extended answers…

What are the overall benefits of taking supplements for the skin?

There are many different vitamins and minerals that help to keep your skin healthy, slow down ageing, manage acne and inflammation and control elasticity and strength. These vitamins and minerals should essentially come from food if you eat a well-balanced diet especially rich in vegetables, however, in today’s modern society with lower soil quality, high stress environments and pollutants, sometimes supplements are necessary to provide our bodies with adequate amounts of these vitamins and minerals to meet our daily needs and keep our skin at its optimal.

 

Many beauty editors swear by zinc supplements for their skin — what benefit does it have for skin? Is it necessary to take zinc as a supplement for good skin results, or can we obtain enough zinc through diet?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays a role in more than a hundred enzymatic reactions in the body, which is why consuming zinc daily is important. This mineral is needed is small amounts every single day for healthy cell division and acts like an antioxidant, fighting free radical damage and therefore slowing the ageing process. 

Zinc also benefits the integrity of the skin and helps treat infections. Research shows that people who have delayed wound healing tend to have low levels of zinc. So, it makes sense that people who suffer from acne or pimples that take a long time to heal may have a zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency is known to be a major malnutrition problem worldwide! It’s actually ranked the fifth-leading risk factor in causing disease worldwide.

You can meet your needs through food, but I would recommend supplementation if you don’t feel like you’re eating at least 2-3 serves of these zinc-rich foods per day.  

 
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It’s really important to also note that the absorption of zinc from plant based foods is 50% less than animal sources, as there are compounds that inhibit its bioavailability to the body. Research suggests that people who don’t eat meat or animal products need up to 50 percent more zinc in their diets to absorb what the body needs.


How beneficial (if at all) is ingestible collagen for the skin? What benefits does it have for the skin, and in what foods can we source this from?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is the major component of all connective tissues that make up many body parts, including your skin! Studies have indeed found that collagen supplements have benefits for the skin.

Collagen provides the skin with structure and plays a role in strengthening the skin. It may also improve elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body naturally produces less collagen, which leads to dryness and the development of wrinkles. Several studies though have shown that collagen supplements may help slow this ageing by reducing dryness and wrinkles!

This anti-aging effect of collagen has been attributed to its ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own. Taking collagen supplements may also promote the production of other proteins that contribute to the structure of your skin, including fibrillin elastin.

Several foods do contain collagen, including animal foods and bone broth. However, their absorption is not as efficient as that of hydrolysed collagen! This is the form that most collagen is in when it is in supplemental form, it means that it has already been broken down, allowing for efficient absorption in the body.

More research is required to determine if eating foods rich in collagen actually helps to increase collagen in your body like the supplemental, hydrolysed collagen does. There have not been any human studies on this yet.

What there isn’t evidence for? Collagen supplements are said (anecdotally) to help with acne prevention and other skin conditions, but these are not supported by scientific evidence.

I love this one!

I stir it through my soups to add protein



Vitamin C is renowned for its brightening properties when used topically on the skin. Is Vitamin C absorbed through diet also beneficial to the skin, and is it necessary to supplement in order for skin benefits?

Vitamin C absorbed through diet is certainly important for the skin! It helps to keep your skin and connective tissue strong and healthy. The good news is that it’s actually really easy to meet your C requirements if you’re a fruit and veggie lover! Fruits and veggies that are particularly rich in vitamin C include

  • Citrus fruits – oranges, limes and lemons

  • Berries

  • Blackcurrants

  • Kiwifruit

  • Tomatoes

  • Broccoli

  • Sprouts

  • Red, yellow and green capsicum

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To put this into perspective, just 1 cup of broccoli has 80 mg vitamin c, which is double the recommended daily intake (RDI) for women (45 mg/day).

Also, vitamin c is actually conserved in the body and it’s absorption in the intestines is dose dependent, meaning that the kidneys regulate levels of vitamin c to conserve it in the body during periods of low intake and then less is absorbed in the intestines if there are already adequate levels in the body! This is why taking extra vitamin C in a supplemental form may be useless, as it will likely not be absorbed if you’re already meeting you needs!

Lots of people take vitamin C supplements, but there is no good evidence that they help unless you have a deficiency.


What do you think of taking anti-inflammatory supplements (e.g. Fish oil) for skin inflammation — does it work, and what is a safe daily dosage to take?

I think it’s always best to first focus on diet. Then, supplementing with extra supplements that are specific for helping with inflammation can be effective.

A diet containing at least 2 serves of fish a week, plenty of vegetables and adequate rest can help the inflammation in our skin.

If you eat 2 serves of fish a week, it’s said that you should likely be meeting your omega 3 needs. If not, it’s recommended that you take a supplement. It’s important to note that the supplement you choose contains EPA and DHA – the most useful type of omega 3’s that are found In fatty fish and algae.

Currently, there isn’t a set recommendation for how many omega-3s we need each day, so suggestions range from 250 to 1,000 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA. To put this into perspective, there is more than 500 milligrams of omega-3s in one can of tuna or one small serving of wild-caught salmon.

Other supplements that are recommended to fight inflammation once diet is sorted are vitamin d and turmeric.

If you’re not getting at least 10 minutes of sun exposure on your skin a day, I would recommend taking a vitamin D supplement. The only foods that are rich in vitamin D are Pasteur raised egg yolks (even better enriched with vitamin D), salmon, mushrooms and cheese. The upper limit for vitamin D (recommended maximum limit) is 4000UI. If you take a 1,000UI supplement and eat one serve of these foods daily, you should be at a healthy range. Or, if you don’t eat much of these foods, aim for a minimum of 2000IU daily. I definitely recommended getting regular blood tests to see what your levels are doing to monitor the supplementation!

There aren’t many studies that have been performed on Turmeric yet but the interest is certainly growing. Turmeric contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components, characteristics that are said to provide glow and luster to the skin. You may want to try a turmeric face mask at home to see if the spice has any positive effects on your skin. Adding it to your diet will certainly do no harm too, it has been commonly believed for hundreds of years that it has anti-inflammatory properties, so it must benefit the skin in this way too, especially if you have skin that is inflammatory and prone to breakouts at these times!

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What other key supplements can we take that can improve skin quality?

Different B-vitamins:

These have many various benefits for your skin! For example, research has shown that vitamin B12 helps your body maintain a healthy balance of bacteria, which leads to a reduction in acne-causing bacteria. Vitamin B needs are met pretty easily if you include animal products like meat and dairy in your diet. If you don’t, you may want to consider supplementing!

Vitamin K2:

It’s not often talked about, but Vitamin K2! This vitamin has been found in studies to prevent wrinkles and therefor slow ageing. It’s extremely rich in natto, which is fermented soy beans. This is why Japanese women tend to have firmer skin with less wrinkles, as natto is a staple in their diet! Vitamin K2 is also present in sauerkraut, miso, full fat dairy products, egg yolks and organ meats. As many don’t include these foods daily, a supplement Is a valid alternative!

Probiotic supplement (10-15 billion minimum CFU daily)

Probiotics can control your immune response and have the ability to modify chronic inflammatory states. This means that probiotics may play a role in managing inflammation of the skin which may otherwise cause conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea and premature ageing resulting from the ravages of UV radiation.


All in all, which ingestible vitamins and supplements will actually improve our skin health, which can we obtain enough of through diet, and which should we use topically?

If you’re eating a well-balanced, clean diet that is high in vegetables and fruit, definitely don’t worry about vitamin C.

If you’re vegetarian, vegan or don’t manage to eat fish twice a week, consider supplementing with omega 3’s and Vitamin B’s.

For everyone, to be safe, as zinc deficiency is quite common, take a zinc supplement! Vitamin K2 would also be useful to supplement with as it’s not available in many foods, unless you want to make natto a staple in your diet!

Also, if you’re wanting to boost skin strength and prevent ageing, everyone could add in a hydrolysed collagen supplement.

And finally, probiotics are beneficial for everyone to take, as well as focussing on eating probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and natto.

Before supplementing, it’s important to talk to your doctor or health care professional.


What other health products can we consume that will a dramatic impact on skin health?

I’ve spoken a lot about what to focus on consuming, but not about what to avoid! And that’s equally important. Avoid as much added sugar as possible, the easiest way to do this is to avoid most foods that come in a package! It’s also important to avoid the foods that you’re personally sensitive to.

The most common are gluten and dairy. Avoiding these, as well as sugar improve skin quality and reduce breakouts for so many women. Limiting trans fats, white, highly refined carbohydrates and excessive alcohol is also very important.

Focus on a diet that is high in an array of vegetables, plant based fats such as nuts, olive oil and avocado and good quality protein. Drinking a lot of water is also super important!

Do you now want to put all of this into practise but feel overwhelmed? That’s what my nutrient dense, slim down meal plan eBooks are for!