You’re seeing it and reading about it everywhere…even right now! The lines between protecting your skin, using effective skin care products and incorporating nutritional supplementation into your daily regimen, are all joining together. The objective, one holistic approach designed to ensure that you achieve your healthiest ever skin, hair and nails.

Vitamins, supplements, pre- and pro-biotics, nutraceuticals, antioxidants, peptides… the list of nutritional boosters added to the antiaging arsenal continues to grow. Sounds like a lot of marketers got together and decided to have a last stand with all topical and nutritional guns blazing!  We know how it sounds but read on.   

It’s true that many marketing claims have not been verified scientifically and that we should remain skeptical when it comes to unfounded claims. That being said, more and more evidence that supplementation is delivering benefits to the skin and that scientifically designed studies of Nutraceuticals and Nutricosmetics are making their way into medical research, is also true. It does stand to reason (and studies on vitamin absorption do support it), that a percentage of the supplements that we ingest do make their way to certain organs and tissues in our body, including our skin, hair follicles and nail roots.

In a study conducted by Dr. Patricia Ferris, MD, FAAD clinical assistant professor of dermatology, Tulane University School of Medicine, certain supplements were found to reduce photo-aging. (Sorry, proper sun protection is still required). They also found that diets high in antioxidants and healthy fats and low in carbs, sugars and damaging fats may help the skin look and stay younger. (1) 

In another study by Proksch E, and others, the results indicated that oral intake of certain collagen peptides significantly reduced eye wrinkle depth. After 8 weeks of taking the supplements, participants in this same study also showed improvements in their skin’s collagen and elastin dermal matrix synthesis.(2)  

So, what foods and supplements seem to be the most beneficial?

When it comes to protecting your skin against photo-aging, the most important sources are vitamins C and E, lycopene, green tea polyphenols, beta-carotene, cocoa flavanols, selenium and proanthocyanidins (a class of polyphenols). These nutrients seem to offer some protection against ultraviolet induced damage. Many of these are available from foods we can consume. Supplements containing polypodium leucotomos (an extract from a fern plant) or Lactobacillus johnsonii (a probiotic), have also been shown to offer some sun protection. As mentioned earlier, proper sun protection methods are still required.

It should also be noted that vitamin D has created a big splash in recent years. In low levels, vitamin D may lead to weaker bones, certain cancers, neurologic disease and other health concerns. This vitamin can only be properly synthetized in the body by sun exposure which, as you know, is frowned upon by all skin care professionals. Thus, supplementation offers a safe and effective way to ensure proper levels of vitamin D, without the risk associated with sun exposure. The American Academy of Dermatology has issued Recommended Dietary Allowance guidelines for calcium and vitamin D. (3) 

When it comes to reducing fine lines and strengthening the dermal matrix, collagen peptides, vitamins A, B and C, linoleic acid and Biotin offer the necessary building blocks for your skin to better repair itself. Collagen Types 1 & 3 comprise 90% of our body’s collagen and are particularly helpful when taken as supplements. These two types of collagen contain 19 amino acids or proteins vital to the health of skin, muscles, and bones. Proper use of skin care products, periodic visits to your skin care professional as well as thoughtful supplement intake seems to offer the best holistic strategy for healthy skin.   

What nutrients or activities should I avoid?

No surprises here. Research shows that diets high in sugars, refined carbs and bad fats may cause oxidative damage that weakens cell membranes, DNA and proteins like collagen and elastin. And when it comes to healthy dieting and living, let’s not forget to exercise, avoid smoking (vaping included, sorry), and find ways to reduce stress. 

So, there you have it! The science is starting to confirm that our skin, hair and nails benefit greatly from a healthy diet. These diets can be made more complete with the proper use of supplements as well as by avoiding the bad foods and habits that trigger the damage that lead to premature aging.  

References:

  1. Ferris, Patricia et al. “Beauty from the inside out: Improving your diet or taking supplements may lead to younger-looking skin.” American Academy of Dermatology. February 2nd, 2015
  2. Proksch E, et al. “Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis.” Skin Pharmacol Physiol, 2014;124:304-307
  3. “Position Statement on Vitamin D.” American Academy of Dermatology. December 22, 2010   

Stay healthy!

WS