If you’re seeking naturally younger-looking, clear skin, adding certain supplements to your regimen may help in the process. While there’s no magic pill that will give you youthful skin, eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, as well as supplementing your diet may contribute to better skin health and appearance. (37)
The various skin changes that accompany aging are a common complaint. The “anti-aging” industry is estimated to be worth approximately about 50.2 billion U.S. dollars and forecasted to increase year after year. (40) Another common skin complaint is acne vulgaris. It’s estimated that acne, an inflammatory skin disorder distinguished by clogged hair follicles and blemishes, contributes to approximately three billion dollars in healthcare costs in America. (4)
In this article you will discover some of the important nutrients that can help support healthy skin, calm skin inflammation, and slow down the signs of aging.
The 8 best supplements for skin health
The skin is your body’s largest organ and it needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy. (50) The following nutrients and dietary supplements have been shown to support skin health and improve skin appearance.
Vitamin A for skin
Vitamin A contributes to skin clarity by decreasing the size of sebaceous glands, resulting in less oil production. (10) Without adequate vitamin A, dead skin cells can accumulate in the pores leading to breakouts. (52)
Topical and oral vitamin A may be effective in the treatment and prevention of acne. Topical retinoids, a derivative of vitamin A, are widely used for their anti-aging and acne-reducing properties. Retinoids have been shown to improve acne and signs of aging by stimulating the process of epidermal cell proliferation and promoting collagen synthesis. (52) Additionally, research has shown that intake of oral vitamin A supplementation can reduce inflammation, which may relieve red, inflamed areas on the skin. (33)
Did you know? Patients with severe acne are more likely to have lower serum levels of vitamin A. (9)
Vitamin A exists in two forms in foods; retinol and provitamin A carotenoids. Natural sources of retinol include dairy products, meat, organ meats, and certain fortified foods. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, are precursors to vitamin A, meaning that they are converted into vitamin A in the body. Sources of beta-carotene include many plant-based foods, such as carrots, leafy greens, and tomatoes. (47)(13)
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it can be stored in the body for long periods of time and excess amounts of vitamin A can lead to toxicity, so it is best to consult your healthcare provider for accurate dosing before starting a supplement. Supplemental vitamin A may also cause side effects in some individuals, such as vomiting, headache, and dry skin. (5) Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should avoid supplementing with high doses of vitamin A due to the risk of birth abnormalities. (24)
Vitamin C for skin
It is common knowledge that vitamin C supports immune function, but did you also know that it can improve skin health and appearance? (31) Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, acts as an antioxidant which protects the skin against free radical damage from ultraviolet light, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. (23)(21) Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning it isn’t synthesized by the body, and therefore must be obtained through diet or supplements. (25)
Vegetables and fruits are the best food sources of vitamin C. Broccoli, bell peppers, citrus fruit, kiwi, tomatoes, and potatoes all contain high amounts of the nutrient. (25)
If you have dull skin, scarring, hyperpigmentation, or are recovering from a major acne breakout, supplementing with vitamin C may help. (31) Research has shown that oral vitamin C helps boost collagen production, a protein that contributes to skin hydration and elasticity. (31) Further research indicates that oral vitamin C can help repair sun-damaged skin and aid in wound healing. (42)
Topical vitamin C serums are commonly used for their anti-aging effects. (2) However, topical vitamin C can be too harsh for certain skin types, and may even react poorly with ingredients found in some cosmetic products. (31) If you have sensitive skin, ask your integrative healthcare practitioner about other options.
Collagen supplements for skin
Collagen is a type of protein found in the bones, connective tissues, and skin. As we age, collagen production naturally declines, resulting in visible skin aging. In fact, collagen in the skin declines by approximately one percent each year beginning in adulthood. (11)
Ingesting collagen has been shown to increase skin elasticity and boost skin collagen production, resulting in a more youthful appearance. (7) If you’re noticing signs of skin aging, supplementing daily with collagen may be beneficial. (11)(30)
Supplemental collagen is available in powder, liquid, and capsule form, and is sourced from the skin and bones of animals, primarily chicken, beef, and fish. (50) Collagen can also be found in some foods, including bone broth and gelatin. (28)
Magnesium for skin
If you are experiencing hormonal or stress-related acne, consider speaking to your healthcare practitioner about increasing your magnesium intake. While magnesium can be obtained through dietary sources, such as bananas, legumes, milk, whole grains, and some nuts, it’s estimated that approximately 75% of people don’t get enough magnesium through their diet alone. (26)(14)
When you’re stressed, the adrenal cortex releases a stress hormone known as cortisol. (41)(6) Elevated stress hormones can stimulate sebaceous glands to increase oil production, which can contribute to breakouts. (51) Magnesium may help stabilize cortisol levels and improve acne. (12)(36) Magnesium has also been shown to minimize inflammation and enhance skin hydration. (38)
Omega-3 fatty acids for skin
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, seeds, and some plant foods, are commonly considered one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory nutrients. (46) Oral supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly through fish oil supplements, may support skin health.
Some research suggests that fish oil supplementation improves acne severity in people with moderate to severe acne. (18) Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has also been shown to reduce skin inflammation and dryness, as well as protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun, potentially providing effects against skin cancer and skin aging. (3)(29)
Vitamin E for skin
In addition to consuming vitamin E-rich foods, supplementation may be beneficial to support skin health. Topical vitamin E oil for skin may prevent inflammation and damage caused by UVB rays. (17) The anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin E may also benefit individuals with atopic dermatitis (eczema), a condition characterized by red, itchy skin. One study found that supplementing with oral vitamin E for eight months significantly improved symptoms of atopic dermatitis. (43)
Vitamin D for skin
Best known for its role in structural health, vitamin D also plays a role in skin health. Vitamin D can be obtained from supplements, sun exposure, and dietary sources. Food sources of vitamin D include eggs, fish, organ meats, and certain fortified foods. (45)
Research has identified a link between vitamin D deficiency and certain skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and acne. (22)(1) Preliminary studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may improve the severity of acne and atopic dermatitis. (20) (16) Research has also indicated that vitamin D has a protective effect against premature skin aging caused by UV rays and may minimize skin inflammation following sun exposure. (32)(39)
Zinc for skin
Zinc, found in dietary sources such as meat, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, is an essential trace mineral necessary for optimal skin health. (48)(27) This essential trace mineral supports skin health by promoting tissue repair and protecting the skin from UV radiation and oxidative damage. (35)
Zinc has also been shown to be helpful in the management of mild to moderate acne when applied orally or topically (19)(15) A 12-week trial investigating the effects of oral zinc sulphate supplementation found that 58% of the 56 individuals showed significant improvement in the number of papules and cysts. (49)
Zinc also assists with the healing of damaged skin. Both oral and topically applied zinc have been shown to accelerate wound healing. (15)
The bottom line
You can improve your skin from the inside out by eating a variety of nutritious foods and adding supportive supplements to your routine. While some signs of skin aging are inevitable, getting enough of these nutrients may help improve the health and appearance of your skin. Before introducing a new supplement to your routine, always consult your integrative healthcare practitioner for recommendations tailored to your individual needs.
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