Vitamins for Healthy + Clear Skin
Our skin can be a major source of confidence! In many cases, healthy, glowing skin is a sign of good skin health and overall wellness. On the flip side, skin conditions like acne, breakouts and pigmentation can be an indicator of digestive issues or otherwise.
There are several causes for skin issues, including:
- The prevalence of toxins within the body
- Improper skin care and poor hygiene
- Nutrition, including deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals
Healthy skin is often refined by healthy habits practiced over time. Aside from good skincare routines, essential nutrients can help you achieve clearer skin.
Today we explore some of the best vitamins and supplements you need to support your skin from within! Get ready to glow.
What Role Does the Skin Play in Overall Wellness?
Did you know? The skin is the largest organ in the body.
Our skin protects us from the potential physical and microbiological stressors to our immune system that occure daily. It essentially forms a protective barrier to keep illness and bacteria at bay.
Our skin contains millions of immune cells that serve as immune defenses and mechanisms to keep tissue homeostasis balanced. In addition to immune support, skin cells help convert sunlight into vitamin D, an essential nutrient for bone health.
Our skin can also:
- Act as a barrier from the harmful effects of UV rays and toxins
- Serve as a sensory mechanism, along with nerves, to allow the body to interpret touch
- Regulae body temperature
What Does Our Skin Structure Comprise?
The layers of the skin help provide storage for water, fat and other metabolic products. These three distinct skin layers include the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer.
Let’s take a quick look at each:
- Epidermis - This is the outermost layer of skin is what we see and touch. The epidermis is the first line of defense against bacteria, infections and harsh environmental factors. It also contains melanin, which helps determine skin type and color.
- Dermis - The dermis makes up more than 90 percent of the skin’s thickness. It contains proteins like collagen and elastin, giving skin strength and elasticity. This layer also houses hair follicles, oil glands and sweat glands.
- Subcutaneous layer (hypodermis) - This is the deepest layer of skin, composed mostly of collagen proteins and fat cells. It helps cushion the bones and muscles of the body and helps regulate temperature.
What Factors Impact Our Skin Health?
As we have seen, skin health is crucial for many important biological functions and impact our confidence daily. Sadly, skin health tends to move onto our lower list of priorities in times of stress or overwhelm.
At the end of the day, many different factors can impact your skin health. Let’s take a closer look!
Acne and Skin Conditions
According to experts, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting around 50 million people annually. Medically, this condition is known as acne vulgaris and can be caused by so many different factors
Breakouts can occur when pores on the skin get clogged by dead skin cells. However, excess oil production (sebum), bacteria and hormones can also contribute to the prevalence of acne and breakouts.
Acne can include:
- Cysts (more likely to cause acne scars)
Most dermatologists recommend a combination of acne creams and other topical treatments to clear breakouts. Mild, moderate and severe cases of acne may require slightly different treatment methods and your doctor can work with you to find the best path for you.
Risk factors for developing acne range from genetics to medications, but diet is another contributing factor in the development of acne and breakouts.
Other skin conditions, like rosacea, psoriasis and eczema, can also impact your skin health and overall complexion. If you suspect that you may be dealing with a skin condition, it’s best to consult your doctor or dermatologist, who can recommend prescription medications or other treatment methods.
Diet and Exercise
One of the most overlooked aspects of skin health is diet and lifestyle.
For example, a diet with highly processed and fried foods can contribute to excess sebum production, creating the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive. In addition, nutritional deficiencies can also exacerbate any existing skin concerns, and can contribute to the development of new ones.
When it comes to nutrient deficiencies, some of the first clues can be seen in the skin, hair and nails.
Common aesthetic concerns that may indicate vitamin or mineral deficiencies include:
- Pale skin
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Slow wound healing
Other detriments to skin health include:
- Poor hygiene: Not regularly washing the face allows dirt and grime to build up, which can eventually contribute to clogged pores and acne. It is generally recommended to wash your face at least twice a day.
- Sun damage: Not protecting your skin from harmful UV rays can contribute to dry skin, premature aging and dark spots. Making sure to wear at least SPF 30+ every day, to protect your skin against the sun’s damaging rays.
- Stress: If you often deal with high stress levels, you may start to notice it taking a toll on your skin. The stress hormone, known as cortisol, can stimulate your skin’s sebum production. When excess oil sits on the skin, it can clog your pores and worsen breakouts.
What Vitamins Can Help You Achieve Clearer Skin?
As the adage goes, you are what you eat. But, when it comes to skin health, you’re also what you don’t eat.
Below, we look at some of the essential nutrients that could help you unlock the door to clearer skin.
Vitamin A and Derivatives
Vitamin A is one of the go-to vitamins for skin health. While it can be a dietary supplement, it is more common in skincare products as a topical treatment (commonly known as retinol).
Vitamin A is one of the best vitamins used to combat breakouts. Its effectiveness is due to its antioxidant properties and ability to support the body’s immune system.
How do antioxidants work?
They help to support your cells against the effects of oxidative stress and free radical damage, which contribute to physical signs of aging. This is why retinoids are a common ingredient in anti-aging serums and other topicals.
Vitamin A is also a fat-soluble vitamin, and is crucial for normal vision and proper immune system function.
To up your Vitamin A consumption, you can look to your diet. Vitamin A is naturally occurring in many foods, including;
- Organ meats like beef liver
- Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
- Sweet potatoes, broccoli and carrots
- Cantaloupe, mangos and apricots
- Some fortified breakfast cereals
Another essential nutrient for skin health is vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin is known for being a powerful antioxidant. As such, vitamin C can combat the effects of oxidative stress, helping to support clear skin and soothe blemishes.
Vitamin C is also known as a go-to vitamin for immune system support. In addition to its antioxidant properties, it is crucial for the biosynthesis of collagen and L-carnitine as well as protein metabolism.
Most importantly, Vitamin C supports the body’s natural collagen production. Collagen is the main structural protein for the skin, and it is used to create connective tissue.
Collagen is crucial for overall skin health and integrity and can help you maintain a youthful-looking complexion.
Be sure to the below to improve your Vitamin C intake!
- Citrus fruits (oranges, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit)
- Bell peppers
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)
- White potatoes
B vitamins are another set of essential nutrients that bring great value when it comes to skin health.
There are eight complex B vitamins, including:
- Vitamin B1, or thiamine
- Vitamin B2, or riboflavin
- Vitamin B3, or niacin
- Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7, or biotin
- Vitamin B9, or folic acid
- Vitamin B12, or cobalamin
Each B vitamin has a unique role in the body, including enzyme metabolism, hormone balance and overall cellular health. The B vitamins most often used in skincare include riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin (B7).
Many B Vitamins have a dual impact. For example, pantothenic acid is crucial for supporting energy metabolism, but it is also used to soothe redness in the skin.
Without adequate B vitamins, one can develop a deficiency. This can contribute to dry skin and blemishes.
Vitamin E has long been used in skincare, particularly in its alpha-tocopherol form. Like vitamin C, this fat-soluble vitamin is also a potent antioxidant, supporting the immune system.
Research has found links between low vitamin E serum levels and many skin issues, including consistent blemishes and dryness. In addition, this essential nutrient helps support skin health as it combats the effects of oxidative stress.
Vitamin E also has photoprotective properties to help shield the skin from harmful sun damage. This vitamin is naturally occurring and can be found in many foods, including:
- Sunflower seeds
- Red peppers
When people think of vitamin D, they tend to think of bone health. While it is true that vitamin D is crucial for maintaining bone health, it is also essential for supporting immune function as well as skin health.
Vitamin D is found in certain foods, but the majority of it is produced endogenously by the body as UV rays from sunlight penetrate the skin, triggering vitamin D synthesis.
Since vitamin D can help support the immune system, research has shown links between vitamin deficiencies and breakouts.
What Other Supplements Can Support Clear Skin?
Aside from the essential vitamins mentioned above, some other essential nutrients and supplements can also help the skin look clearer. Let’s take a quick look at a few.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is involved in several important processes within the body, including collagen synthesis. It also helps tocombat the effects of free radical damage to the body’s cells, making it an important nutrient for skin health.
Along with its ability to support the immune system, zinc supplements may help support healthy sebum production!
Probiotics are one of the best things you can do to support gut health. And, as we’ve mentioned, gut health is directly linked to skin health.
Probiotic supplements provide essential bacteria enzymes to help improve gut health.
Many probiotic strains have been found to support a healthy inflammatory response on the skin. Probiotics may also help combat the effects of oxidative stress within the body.
Thanks to its active compound curcumin, turmeric is well-known as an immune system supporter, with advantages for skin health. Many believe it to be a powerful ally against skin issues like dryness and blemishes.
Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These heart-healthy fats come with many immune-supporting properties. Thanks to these properties, many use omega-3 fatty acids to support heart health, brain health and skin health.
Collagen plays a crucial role in skin health as a structural protein. As we age, collagen production declines, resulting in signs of aging like sagging skin and wrinkles.
Thankfully, collagen supplements can provide support to help maintain skin firmness, elasticity and hydration.
The Bottom Line
The state of our skin indicates much about our overall health. Poor skin health can be caused by numerous factors like poor diet, lack of sleep or high stress. Thankfully, many key vitamins and nutrients in a balanced diet can help you achieve clearer-looking skin and overall improved health.
Our Skin + Digestive formula contains essential nutrients like Vitamin C, Zinc and Turmeric to support skin and digestive health.
Skin conditions by the numbers | AAD
Skin findings associated with nutritional deficiencies | CCJM
Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts | NIH
Topical Probiotics: More Than a Skin Deep | PMC