There are plenty of ways to approach being healthy, from eating right to exercising to reducing stress, there’s no one way that is better than the other and they all compliment each other. These three approaches also affect skin health and we should strive to practice them, but we’re always looking for that extra edge to give our bodies what they need to thrive.
That extra edge usually comes in the form of supplements, enhancing substances that can often be a source of a lot of confusion. Sometimes supplements work better when taken orally and are able to solve problems from the inside out, but sometimes the opposite is true and applying them directly to your skin will serve you best. Luckily, a lot of this confusion is about to be cleared up with this list of the 7 best health supplements for skin.
7 Supplements for Healthy Skin
1. Vitamin A Cream
Vitamin A cream is helpful for both skin elasticity and collagen production, which are 2 mechanisms associated with aging skin (1,2). In one study that looked at the effectiveness of topical retinol (vitamin A) on naturally aged skin it was found that lotion containing 0.4% retinol that was applied a few nights a week improved the look of fine wrinkles (1).
Applying vitamin A topically is the best way to use this health supplement as ingested higher doses can be toxic (3). If you’re pregnant, it’s best to steer clear of vitamin A altogether. The correct dose of vitamin A is crucial for the development of a fetus, but excess amounts of vitamin A can lead to birth defects (3). While this rule generally applies to oral vitamin A supplements, avoiding even topical exposure may be the safest route.
If you’ve been struggling with acne, zinc may be the answer to your problems. A study that looked at the effects of patients receiving 30 mg of elemental zinc over three months found that 31.2% of participants were successfully treated for their inflammatory acne (4). Topical zinc was also shown to be effective at treating psoriasis, a common skin condition that is notoriously difficult to treat (5).
For those of you who are very active, 30mg of elemental zinc daily is the recommended dosage (4, 6). If you live a more sedentary lifestyle, 10-20mg per day is a sufficient amount.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and it is essential for skin health (7). Collagen provides elasticity to our skin and helps it appear more youthful (7). As a skin supplement, collagen works by increasing the amount of hydroxyl-proline the blood, which are thought to signal fibroblasts in the body and in turn increase synthesis of collagen in the skin (8).
Collagen is best consumed in powder form and the recommended intake is about 10g/day (9).
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a molecule that’s vital for skin health (10). It’s antioxidant properties and role in collagen synthesis make it a highly beneficial substance (10). Taking vitamin C orally is the best way to effectively increase its levels in the skin (10). Topical application of vitamin C can be affected by exposure to air, heat, and light, which slowly degrade the vitamin (10).
The tolerable upper intake level of vitamin C is 2000mg/day (11). Remember, you already get vitamin C from foods like strawberries, green peppers, and tomatoes, so be careful not to overdo it with supplement intake (11).
5. Polypodium leucotomos
This supplement is a mouthful to say but can be thought of as an internal sunscreen of sorts (12). Studies have shown that it accumulates in the skin and helps to reduce the negative effects of UV radiation (12). It isn’t a complete replacement for sunscreen, but it can give that extra level of protection against signs of aging associated with UV radiation.
Polypodium leucotomos is beneficial when taken as an oral supplementation and the recommended dosages are 500mg for a 150lb person, 700mg for a 200lb person, and 850mg for a 250lb person (13).
6. Sea Buckthorne Oil
Sea buckthorne oil is a great source of omega 7 and its healing properties help with a variety of skin conditions, some of which include acne, dermatitis, eczema, dry skin, and stretch marks (14). In one study examining the effects of mice ingesting sea buckthorne oil orally, it was found to help decrease wrinkle formation in skin damaged by UV radiation (15). In supplement form, the recommended dosage of sea buckthorne oil is 500-2000 mg daily (16).
Sea buckthorne oil is also effective at providing sunburn relief and healing wounds when applied topically (14). When applied on the skin in oil form, the recommended dosage is 2000-5000mg daily (16).
7. Argan Oil
Argan oil isn’t just good for your hair; it also helps to improve skin elasticity (17). A study that looked into the effects of argan oil on the skin of postmenopausal women discovered that daily topical application or oral consumption of argan oil improved skin elasticity and had an anti-aging effect on subjects (17).
There are no specific recommended dosage amounts for dermatological use of argan oil, but the mean daily intake of it through food is 15g (18).
Skin conditions exist in various forms and knowing the right supplement to use is essential when trying to treat a specific condition. You may also want to take supplements for general health purposes. Either way, always try to eat your best, move your best, and take some or all of the above if you and your skin need a little extra help. Read this next to learn about 11-anti-aging foods that will keep your skin young and healthy.
Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before taking any of these supplements to treat dermatological issues.
(1) Kafi, R., Kwak, H.S., Schumacher, W.E., Cho, S., Hanft, V.N., Hamilton, T.A., King, A.L., Neal, J.D., Varani, J., Fisher, G.J., Voorhees, J.J., Kang, S. (2007, May). Improvement of naturaly aged skin with vitamin A (retinol). Arch Dermatol., 143 (5), 606-12. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17515510
(2) Weinstein, G.D., Nigra, T.P., Savin, R.C., Allan, A., Benik, K., Jeffes, E., Lufrano, L., Thorne, E.G. (1991, May). Topical tretinoin for treatment of photodamaged skin. A multicenter study. Arch Dermatol., 127 (5), 659-65. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2024983
(3) Pietrangelo, A. (2017, May 12). Hypervitaminosis A. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/hypervitaminosis-a
(4) Derno, B., Moyse, D., Alirezai, M., Amblard, P., Auffret, N., Beylot, C., Bodokh, I., Chivot, M., Daniel, F., Humbert, P., Meynadier, J., Poli, F. (2001). 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. Dermatology, 203 (2), 135-40. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11586012
(5) Crutchfield, C.E., Lewis, E.J., Zelickson, B.D. (1997, March). The highly effective use of topical zinc pyrithione in the treatment of psoriasis: a case report. Dermatol Online J., 3 (1). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9141364
(6) Patel, K. (2018, May 8). Zinc. Retrieved from https://examine.com/supplements/zinc/
(7) Axe, J. (2018m February 15). How Collagen Can Boost Your Body’s Skin, Muscle, and Gut. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/collagen-powder-benefits
(8) Shigemura, Y., Iwai, K., Morimatsu, F., Iwamoto, T., Mori, T., Oda, C., Taira, T., Park, E.Y., Nakamura, Y., Sato, K. (2009, January). Effect of Prolyl-hydroxyproline (Pro-Hyp), a food derived collagen peptide in human blood, on growth of fibroblasts from mouse skin. J Agric Food Chem., 57 (2), 444-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19128041
(9) Patel, K. (2018, May 8). Type-II Collagen. Retrieved from https://examine.com/supplements/type-ii-collagen/
(10) Michels, A.J. (2011, September). Vitamin C and Skin Health. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C
(11) Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). (2016, December 6). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-vitamin-c#2
(12) Middlekamp-Hup, M.A., Pathak, M.A., Parrado, C., Goukassain, D., Rius-Diaz, F., Mihm, M.C., Fitzpatrick, T.B., Gonzalez, S. (2004, December). Oral Polypodium leucotomos extract decreases ultraviolet-induced damage of human skin. J Am Acad Dermatol, 51 (6), 910-8. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15583582
(13) Patel, K. (2017, April 29). Polypodium leucotomos. Retrieved from https://examine.com/supplements/polypodium-leucotomos/
(14) Sea Buckthorn Oil: The Ancient Greek Oil that Fights Major Diseases. (2016, August 14). Retrieved from https://draxe.com/sea-buckthorn-oil/
(15) Hwang, I.S., Kim, J.E., Choi, S.I., Lee, H.R., Lee, Y.J., Jang, M.J., Son, H.J., Lee, H.S., Oh, C.H., Kim, B.H., Lee, S.H., Hwang, D.Y. (2012, August). UV radiation-induced skin aging in hairless mice is effectively prevented by oral intake of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) fruit blend for 6 weeks through MMP suppression and increase of SOD activity. Int J Mol Med., 30 (2), 392-400. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22641502
(16) Patel, K. (2017, April 29). Sea Buckthorn. Retrieved from https://examine.com/supplements/sea-buckthorn/
(17). Boucetta, K.Q., Charrouf, Z., Aguenaou, H., Derouiche, A., Bensouda, Y. (2015, January 30). The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity. Clin Interv Aging., 10. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25673976
(18) Argania. (2017, July 14). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/npp/argania.html
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