Employee Wellness: 4 Essential Vitamins for Healthy Skin
Have you ever looked at your skin and suddenly noticed a new wrinkle, dryness, dark spots or redness? Your first thought may be to find a cream or serum to fix the problem. You quickly search online or scan the shelves at the local mall to find the perfect product only to be overwhelmed by options. The variety of ingredients and promising product claims can make it feel impossible to determine which overly priced item will cure your concern.
Fortunately, there are simpler solutions to improve the appearance of skin proactively from the inside out. Healthy skin is primarily the result of proper cellular function, which is why what you eat plays a key role. Include the following four vitamins in your diet as well as your skin care regimen to minimize skin damage, improve wound healing, and reduce signs of aging.
Vitamin C helps with the production of collagen and offers protection against UV-induced damage. Inadequate vitamin C intake contribute to wrinkles, coarse and bumpy skin, and slow wound repair. Though vitamin C is popular in topical skin care serums, it is an unstable compound when exposed to oxygen, heat, or light, often rendering it ineffective in beauty products. Be sure to research topical treatments to ensure stability, efficacy and safety before use.
Sun protection and sun damage treatment: As an antioxidant, vitamin C can protect the skin from UV damage by neutralizing free radicals, especially when combined with vitamin E (either orally or topically). On its own, stable topical vitamin C appears to be more effective than oral intake.
Collagen formation: Vitamin C is necessary in the formation of collagen, a protein which provides structure and firmness in skin often associated with a “youthful appearance”. It is also essential in wound healing through the formation of scars.
Reduces wrinkles: Both topical and high oral intakes of vitamin C can help to improve the appearance of skin and reduce wrinkling, though oral appears to be more effective.
The RDA is 2,000 mg/day for adults over 19 years old, which you can obtain by eating three to five servings of fruits and vegetables daily such as citrus fruits, red and orange bell peppers, guava, kiwi, strawberries, kale, spinach, broccoli, potatoes and tomatoes.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is essential for healthy skin. Inadequate amounts can lead to greater damage from UV radiation and free radicals.
Sun protection: Both topical and oral use of vitamin E can protect the skin from UV light and harmful free radicals, especially in conjunction with vitamin C.
Anti-inflammatory: High oral doses or topical use of vitamin E can reduce inflammation after UV exposure and helps reduce skin swelling, redness and thickening.
The RDA is 1,000 mg/day for adults over 19 years old. Food sources include olive oil, sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, carrots, avocado, and broccoli.
Vitamin A (AKA retinoids) is important for the health and repair of skin tissue. Both topical and oral retinoids provide health benefits, but topical treatments seem to be more effective for many skin conditions.
Treats sun damage: Topical retinoids protect the skin from collagen damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation and treat sun-damaged skin by reducing signs of aging such as wrinkles, roughness, and discoloration.
Treats acne: Both topical and oral retinoids can be used to treat acne depending on the severity. Mild acne is typically treated topically, while severe cases may require oral retinoids.
Inadequate intake of vitamin A can lead to dry, itchy, hardened skin and poor wound repair. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 3,000 IU/day for adults over 19 years old. You can get adequate vitamin A from your diet by eating foods like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupes, mangoes, eggs, beef liver, butter, spinach, broccoli and kale.
Vitamin D is made by the body after exposure to sunlight but can also be obtained through food in lesser amounts. Inadequate vitamin D can lead to skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, acne, rosacea, and impaired wound healing.
Sun protection: Vitamin D may inhibit skin damage caused by UV radiation.
Treats psoriasis: Topical calcitriol (the active form of vitamin D) has been used to treat psoriasis, a skin condition that often includes a red, scaly rash.
Wound healing: Vitamin D regulates cathelicidin, a protein involved in the immune system which plays a role in tissue repair and inflammation.
Spending 10-30 minutes in direct sunlight daily should provide enough vitamin D, otherwise diet and supplementation will play a more important role to ensure needs are being met.
The RDA is 4,000 IU/day over age nine, which you can get from eggs, fortified milk and orange juice, fortified cereal, and fatty fish.
Keep it Simple
Rather than simply react to frustrating skin health issues, you can proactively nourish your skin from the inside out by consuming adequate amounts of vitamins A, C, D, and E in your diet daily.
Written by: Holly Soto, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
3. Merck Manual