Four Vitamins for Healthy Skin
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Our skin says a lot about our overall health. Radiant, glowing skin can indicate we’re eating right, getting enough sleep, and taking care of our bodies. Alternatively, acne-prone skin, a dull complexion, or skin irritation can be an indication of something bigger, like a vitamin deficiency.
To truly keep your skin healthy and looking as youthful as possible, you need an understanding of how skin works and what it needs to function properly.
We’ll cover the basics and give you some recommendations for vitamins that are research-backed and proven to help support healthy skin.
How the Skin Works
The skin is your body’s largest organ, and there are four aspects of how it works that keeps it looking healthy while being in charge of some important stuff like wound healing and bruise repair. Let’s look closely at collagen, elastin, cell turnover, and the skin’s microbiome.
Collagen is a protein found in numerous tissues in your body. It makes up ligaments, tendons, and is foundational in the formation of new skin. It’s the protein that keeps your skin looking plump and youthful.
When you are younger, collagen production is in full swing. As you age though, you lose about 1% of your collagen supply every year. That might not seem like a very big percentage, but if you begin losing collagen by 1% each year after the age of 20, you’re facing a 30% decline in collagen production by age 50.
Loss of collagen can cause skin to look hollow and thin, and allow for the formation of fine lines and wrinkles that make us look older than we are, or at least older than we feel.
Elastin is another fiber that helps the skin maintain its shape. Elastin sounds like “elastic,” and it’s what gives your skin its elasticity. When you pinch your skin and it snaps back into place, you’re seeing the effects of elastin in action.
Elastin, like collagen, also declines in production as we get older. When we lose elastin, the results are more noticeable than when we lose collagen. Skin begins to hang on our bones and we develop deep wrinkles. Our skin no longer snaps back into place like it used to — it becomes slack.
Your skin is constantly making new skin, deep in the dermal layer. New skin cells form and travel up to the epidermis, where they eventually die, slough off, and get replaced with new ones. This process repeats so that your skin is renewed on a regular basis.
Children’s skin renews in less than two weeks’ time, which is why their skin always looks so fresh. Adult skin can take up to a month to renew. That’s more time to be exposed to external stressors, develop damage, and just plain wear out.
Our skin may look dull in comparison to a child’s skin simply because it’s been hanging out on our epidermis longer.
The skin is home to a microbiome of bacteria that help it maintain its function and protect you from pathogens. The skin’s microbiome is a delicate balance of flora that is comparable to the flora living in your gut.
For your skin to maintain optimal health, its microbiome needs to be nourished, protected, and balanced. New research suggests that your gut health plays a major role in determining the health of your skin. The gut-skin axis refers to the communication between the flora of your gut and the flora on your skin and how they interact to keep your skin healthy and even balance your immunity.
What Keeps Skin Healthy?
Your skin stays healthy with good care, a balanced diet, proper hydration, and a little common sense. Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re taking the best possible care of your birthday suit.
Your skin needs hydration to stay healthy, make new skin cells, and maintain youthfulness. Dehydrated skin can cause all types of skin-related issues like inflammation, dryness, irritation, eczema, and even excessive oiliness.
Keeping your skin hydrated is a two-part process that involves consuming enough water and using moisturizers that contain both humectant and emollient ingredients.
- Humectants pull moisture into your skin’s epidermis
- Emollients condition and soften your skin
Hydrated skin appears healthy and has more radiance than skin that is chronically dehydrated.
Protection From the Sun
If you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably got great skin, and you probably don’t know that you need to use sunscreen every day to keep your skin protected from the sun. While most of us agree that sun protection is important, many of us still aren’t using sunscreen every day.
Sunscreen helps shield your skin from damaging UV rays that can put you at risk of developing skin cancer, but it also helps protect you against photoaging. Photoaging refers to premature aging of the skin due to sun exposure. UV damage can cause sunspots, lines, wrinkles, and a faster loss of collagen and elastin.
Your skin comes into contact with some pretty brutal external stressors each day. From the sun to pollution, and even lifestyle habits like smoking, free radicals are constantly attacking your skin.
Free radicals are unbalanced molecules that attack healthy skin cells and cause them to oxidize. When this happens, the very DNA of your cells can change, and they can begin to malfunction. Antioxidants can help protect your cells against free radical damage by acting as a shield against them.
Many antioxidants are found naturally in the foods we eat and the vitamins we take.
Four Vitamins for Healthy Skin
You’ll get most of the vitamins your skin needs from the foods you eat, but if you’re really looking to improve your skin’s texture and appearance, focus on foods that contain these four vitamins.
1. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a popular skincare vitamin that you’ll find in many skincare products. Vitamin E helps your skin by offering antioxidant properties that can protect your skin against oxidative damage. It’s also thought to help with correcting issues with your complexion by lightening areas of hyperpigmentation. There’s plenty of vitamin E in leafy greens like spinach.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps keep your skin bright and increases your skin’s radiance. A natural antioxidant, vitamin C also plays a major role in collagen production. Ensuring you get enough vitamin C is crucial in maintaining collagen supplies. Vitamin C also helps protect your skin from sun damage, although it’s not enough to rely on it alone for total sun protection. Spinach and broccoli contain tons of vitamin C, but typically most people think of fruits like oranges and apples, and they’re not wrong! There are also vitamin C serums that can be applied topically.
3. Vitamin D
You get vitamin D when you’re exposed to sunlight, but that doesn’t mean you should sit outside in direct sunlight without sunscreen. Your skin can make the vitamin D it needs to keep your body healthy even when you are wearing sunscreen.
Vitamin D helps keep your cells healthy by helping them carry out proper cellular function. A lack of vitamin D can have detrimental effects on your insides and the way your systems function, which is why many of our foods are fortified with synthetic vitamin D.
4. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is another incredibly popular skin care vitamin. Vitamin A is classified as a retinoid, and helps the skin with cellular turnover. Vitamin A can help increase the speed at which your cells regenerate, which can diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and help improve your overall complexion.
These vitamins are essential for healthy skin, and can be used by the skin when taken orally or administered topically. However, there’s more you can do to promote healthy skin than simply take a vitamin, and it involves fatty acid.
Fatty Acids for Skin Health
When you think of skin health, or even your skincare routine, fatty acids probably won’t cross your mind, but they should. Just like the omega-3s, there are certain fatty acids that are important to your skin to keep it healthy and looking radiant.
One such acid is pentadecanoic acid, or C15:0. This odd-chain, saturated fatty acid helps strengthen your skin’s cells by:†*
- Fortifying cell walls. As you age, your cells’ protective membranes become flimsy and weak, which can lead to skin that feels less elastic and firm. C15:0 gets into cell walls and keeps them sturdy, protecting them from external stressors.
- Boosting mitochondrial function. Older cells become sluggish because their mitochondria begin to lose function. C15:0 helps boost mitochondrial function by 45%, which means your cells can function properly to create new cells.
You can get C15:0 into your diet by taking a once-a-day supplement called fatty15. Fatty15 is the vegan-friendly powder form of pure pentadecanoic acid, known as FA15™ .
Supplements and Healthy Skin, for the Win
Healthy skin needs a variety of vitamins and nutrients to stay looking bright and radiant. You can grab the essentials from your favorite citrus fruits and vegetables.
For skin that truly glows, add fatty15 to your bathroom shelf and encourage your skin’s health from at the cellular level.
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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