Should You Be Taking Skin Boosting Supplements?

Unsure whether you may need an extra nutritional boost for your skin? OR are you perhaps lacking in a vital skin nutrient without realising 😳?

Our skin is often a reflection of what is going on inside our bodies. It’s always best to aim to get the majority of your nutrition through your food. HOWEVER, if you don’t always eat as well as you should ….here are 7 supplements to consider

Skin Boosting Supplements

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that belongs to the class of compounds called retinoids. It is critical for skin maintenance and repair, collagen production and acne prevention.

F9BB7C22-1C20-4892-9FCB-AE360A838526.jpegLow levels of Vitamin A have been associated with:-

  • Rough, dry and scaling skin.
  • Inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Follicular thickening of the skin – which can show up as rough, raised bumps on the back of the arms (called hyperkeratosis pillaris).
  • Acne – Vitamin A is essential for the normal shedding of dead skin cells which can otherwise build up inside our pores. As we know, blocked pores ultimately lead to acne. Furthermore, Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory benefits for our skin and can therefore help calm angry acne breakouts.

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Vitamin A is found in two different forms: Active Vitamin A and Beta Carotene. Active Vitamin A comes from animal-derived foods and is otherwise known as retinol. This ‘ready to be absorbed’ Vitamin A can be used straight away by the body -it does not need to be converted. The 2nd type of Vitamin A (which is obtained from colourful fruits and vegetables), is ‘Beta Carotene’. These carotenoids need to be converted to the active form of Vitamin A by the body (after the food is ingested). Beta carotene is found primarily in vegetables and fruits.

The most vitamin A-rich foods are liver and cod liver oil, however other sources include:-

Eggs, asparagus, peaches, carrots, beet greens, kale, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, cantaloupe, red peppers and mango.

Poor Gut Health can cause malabsorption of vitamin A.

Vitamin A (commonly known as Retin-A) has been prescribed for decades by dermatologists to treat acne ‘topically’. Accutane (Roacutane) is a prescription oral medication which is derived from vitamin A. It has been used to treat severe cases of acne by dermatologists for years. However it can have serious side effects and its use must be supervised by a dermatologist.

Note:- Because Vitamin A is fat-soluble, it can build up in our body. Therefore an excessive intake (of more than 10,000 international units / IU) can be toxic. This is especially the case during pregnancy, so women who are planning on becoming pregnant should check with their doctors before starting any supplements.

B7 / Biotin

Vitamin B7, otherwise known as ‘Biotin’ is a water-soluble ‘B-complex’ vitamin.

B7 (biotin) contributes to the maintenance of strong and healthy hair, SKIN, nails, mucous membranes, the nervous system, and psychological functions. It is also essential for the metabolism of glucose, proteins and fatty acids.

Interestingly B7 sometimes gets the nickname ‘Vitamin H’, which stems from the German word “Haar” which mean “hair and skin.”

The human body cannot synthesis its own Vitamin B7. Only bacteria, molds, yeasts, algae, and certain plants can make it. SO it needs to be supplied via our diet.

Unabsorbed B7 is eliminated in urine, so the body does not build up spare reserves. This means it must be consumed daily.

Sources of B7 include:-

Salmon, sardines, avocado, bananas, raspberries, liver, mushrooms, yeast, whole-wheat bread, cheddar cheese, pork, chicken, cauliflower, egg yolk, carrots, dairy, certain nuts.

Although B7 deficiency is not too common, the symptoms include:
• dry, irritated skin
• brittle hair or hair loss

Vitamin C

The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), combined with its role in connective tissue health and the synthesis of collagen -makes Vitamin C vital for SKIN health.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which our body does not make on its own (and it does not store it either). SO it is important that it is included daily in our diet.

Many fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamin C. Some good ones include:-

Citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, spinach, kale, red capsicum (pepper), kiwi fruit, guava, papaya.

A deficiency in Vitamin C can present as:

  • Rough, dry, scaly skin
  • Easy bruising
  • Slow wound healing
  • Dry and splitting hair
  • Dry red spots on the skin
  • Poor gum health (bleeding, inflammation etc)

Essential Fatty Acids – particularly Omega-3’s

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) have many health benefits including SKIN health. This is due to the fatty acids EPA & DHA.

  • Help keep the skin moist and strong by reducing the amount of water lost through the epidermis (the top layer of skin).
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties – including the treatment of eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and acne.
  • Help prevent premature aging of our skin.
  • Mental Health benefits (eg anxiety & depression).
  • Heart Health
  • Helps with the management of ADHD.

Inflammation is a big part of the problem with acne (externally and systemically). Therefore an anti-inflammatory Omega-3 supplement is helpful when it comes to clearing acne.

Since the body doesn’t produce EFA’s, they must be obtained through our diet or from supplements. Good dietary sources include salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseeds.

Good EFA supplements include Fish oil, Sea Buckthorn & Krill oil. However keep in mind that there are fish oils and there are fish oils. SO many of the supplements found in our supermarkets are manufactured cheaply and can even be rancid! Choose a reputable company (eg BioCeuticals in Australia) where the fish oil undergoes strict testing to ensure its purity & to make sure it is of the highest quality, using ethically sourced fish free of heavy metals.

Zinc

Zinc is an vital mineral that helps with;-

  • Healthy skin, hair & nails
  • Prevention and management of acne & other skin conditions.
  • Healthy immune function.
  • Tissue repair and wound healing.
  • The metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids

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Zinc is easlier absorbed from animal food sources. However some plant foods and nuts can be high in zinc as well. Good sources include: Organs such as kidney and liver, red meat such as beef and lamb, and seafood such as oysters, scallops, and other shellfish. Non animal sources include pecans, pumpkin seeds, ginger, legumes, mushrooms and whole grains.

Probiotics

See previous article…

Curcumin

Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice related to ginger. Turmeric gets its health benefits primarily because of its bioactive component ‘curcumin’.

Curcumin – is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral powerhouse.

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Curcumin has been shown to be quite effective in calming the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, scleroderma, rosacea, and other skin diseases. Although the underlying causes of these conditions vary, they all have ‘inflammation’ of the skin in common.

Science shows that Curcumin can be beneficial for acne sufferers. Topically applied it can kill bacteria and reduce acne-causing inflammation. Taken internally it can reduce inflammation which partially the cause of acne. In fact, studies have shown that acne sufferers have higher levels of inflammation and lower levels of antioxidants than people with clear skin. Therefore it is no surprise that treatments that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress reduce acne.

More recently, studies have suggested that curcumin, may slow (or even cease) the growth of melanoma skin cancer cells.

 

Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse) 🙂

 

Please note:-
The recommended daily amount of vitamin A (from all sources) is 700mcg retinol equivalents for women and 900mcg retinol equivalents for men. If you are pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant, do not take vitamin A supplements without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. WARNING – When taken in excess of 3000mcg retinol equivalents, vitamin A can cause harm to the baby.

Sea buckthorn – Omega’s for SKIN Health.

Sea buckthorn – a Great Vegetarian Source of Omega Essential Fatty Acids  …and so much more.

For centuries, Sea buckthorn berry has been used in traditional medicine to support healthy blood circulation and the maintenance of healthy skin and mucous membranes.

It is a natural vegetation source of essential fatty acids including omega-3, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9. It is also a natural source of antioxidants, contains vitamin C, and amino acids.

Like fish oil, sea buckthorn is beneficial for numerous skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Not only are the berries (of the sea buckthorn) packed full of goodness, the leaves and roots can also be used in different forms as well. Despite its name the bush is actually found on land not in the sea.

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Sea buckthorn is often used in topical skin products, or turned into an oral supplement (capsules). It is a great way for vegetarians to increase their intake of essential omega fatty acids.

Why Omega Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)?

  • They help to keep the skin moist and strong by reducing the amount of water lost through the epidermis (the top layer of skin).
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – especially omega-3 fatty acids, are helpful in the treatment of eczema, rosacea and psoriasis (taken orally and sometimes even topically).
  • Assits with acne.
  • Help prevent premature aging of our skin.
  • Mental Health benefits.
  • Heart Health
  • Help with the management of ADHD

SO …give your Skin a boost and maintain healthy mucous membranes with sea buckthorns (vegetarian) source of essential fatty acids.

Sea buckthorn capsules below

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Note:  Flaxseeds, chia and walnuts are also good sources of Omega-3 for your Skin.

Gut Health & Your Mood

A slight deviation from dermatology. HOWEVER   ……not only is our gut linked to our SKIN, it can also influence our MOODS (and vica versa).

YES studies have identified that there is a strong link between our gut health and our emotions.

Our brain and our gut share much of the same tissue. Sometimes referred to as our ‘second brain’ our digestive system and our nervous system are link in many ways.

Our gut’s microbiome produces more ‘serotonin’ (our feel good hormone) than our brain. In fact approximately 85 per cent of our serotonin is found in our gut. In addition to this, there are a multitude of other neurotransmitters located in our gut. A clinical study involving (a large sample size of) patients with gut issues,  showed that anxiety and depression correlate strongly with their gut issues. Another study showed that when gut issues improved, so did depression and emotional problems.

Evidence also suggests that the gut microbiome can influence sleep quality and our circadian rhythm. Our mental health is closely linked to the quality and timing of our sleep.

So there is no wonder that…..

Improving gut health can not only boost our immune system and overall health (including our skin), it can also improve mood. For good gut health we need good gut flora. The bacteria should be varied and well balanced. Meaning  …more of the good guys than the bad! Read more about this in my previous Gut Article.

Easy steps to improve your gut health

  • Eat foods high in probiotics – eg Kombucha, Kefir, natural yogurt, saurkraut & kimchi or other fermented foods.
  • Avoid (or limit) inflammatory foods – Such as gluten, unfermented dairy, excessive alcohol, refined sugar & artificial sweeteners.
  • Eat fresh unprocessed foods – Include lots of vegetables & fruits that are high in fibre (lots have the additional benefit of being prebiotics – which are like fertilisers for our good bacteria).
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics – Which can wipe out our beneficial, protective gut bacteria.
  • Limit stress
  • If required supplement with high quality probiotic supplements  – taking a probiotic supplement can also naturally boost the good probiotics in your system. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are particularly good strains for improving mood. Supplementation can also be beneficial for sufferers of inflammatory skin problems like acne, psoriasis, rosacea and dermatitis.
  • Regular Moderate Exercise – has been shown to increase our guts (good) bacterial diversity and particularly increase Lactobacillus. Exercise also increases circulation, blood Flow, endorphins levels and reduced Stress.
  • See Gut-Skin Connection

SO…..

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The answer is YES

Anti-Aging Super Foods

These anti-aging foods benefit your SKIN & so much more:-

  1. AVOCADO is superfood packed with monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. They also contain phytochemicals and other essential nutrients to help prevent the negative effects of aging.
  2. Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, a compound well known for its anti-aging effects. They are also packed with antioxidants – which fight free radicals throughout our bodies.
  3. The essential fatty acids EPA & DHA (omega 3’s) in oily FISH help boost hydration, assists with dermatitis, eczema, acne, inflammation, brain function, depression, anxiety, ADHD, heart health & so much more. SALMON, trout, sardines and mackerel are good examples. Salmon is particularly high in astaxanthin, a super antioxidant and carotenoid known for its unique anti-aging benefits. For plant based sources of omega-3’s, some great options are flaxseeds (try cold pressed flaxseed oil), chia & walnuts. 

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4.  Hormonal decline is a common complaint of aging. MACA balances and helps normalise the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

5.  TURMERIC is well known for its anti-aging properties, and it has been used in cosmetic formulations for centuries. According to extensive research, the curcumin in turmeric has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is proving to help with:-

  • Arthritis – due to in anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Brain and other neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Type 2 diabetes- due to curcumins ability to help stabilise blood sugar levels.
  • Cholesterol – as it helps lower our bad LDL cholesterol.
  • Viruses – eg the flu
  • PMS

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6.  Dark chocolate (ideally 70% or higher cacao) is a superfood packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants are in the form of flavanols which help to protect our skin from free radical damage (helping it stay youthful for longer). Dark chocolate also contains:-  Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc & Selenium.

7.   Nuts (& seeds) are packed with protein and usually contain:- Essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, Zinc, B Vitamins, Selenium, fiber, L-arginine etc. Vitamin E protects skin from oxidative (cell) damage and supports healthy skin growth. Selenium (high levels are found in brazil nuts) is a powerful antioxidant, helping to support the immune system. Studies have even shown that a selenium rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, age spots and sun damage. See previous article regarding the Skin benefits of Zinc, EFA’s etc.  Some good options are;- walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans & pumpkin seeds.

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Is your GUT effecting your Skin??

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More and more studies are linking our GUT health to our SKIN.

Our GUT does much more than purely absorbing nutrients and energy from our food. It also:-

  • Plays an important role in our immune system (about two thirds of our immune system lives in the gut).
  • Produces more than twenty four hormones that influence everything from our appetite to our mood and even our Skin.
  • Produces detoxifying enzymes (which also destroy harmful bacteria).

Probiotics are ‘goodbacteria that strengthen the lining of our gut, support our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Strengthening our gut lining is important, as this can help protect us from invaders such as bad bacteria, fungi and viruses. Having low levels of good bacteria allows these bad pathogens and toxins to leak out into the body (aka “leaky gut syndrome”). When our immune system detects these invaders, it overreacts by causing inflammation. This can then lead to inflammatory skin issues such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and rosacea.

Gut Skin Connection

Nutrients need to be absorbed correctly in the gut in order for growth, repair, and normal functioning to occur. When our gut is restricted (with the absorption of nutrients), it begins to prioritise which organs will get the few nutrients that are available. When nutrients are in short supply, the body priorities the essential organs like the heart, brain and liver. This results in our skin, hair and nails missing out.

SO for good gut health we need good gut flora. The bacteria should be varied and well balanced. Meaning …more of the good guys than the bad!

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So what can we do to help?

Probiotics

The best way to increase your levels of good bacteria is through food. Some good options include:-

  • Yoghurt – good old fashioned full fat natural yoghurt.
  • Feta – is rich in Lactobacillus & plantarum which have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fermented Foods – such as Saurkraut & Kimchi.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Kefir – a fermented dairy drink rich in the beneficial probiotic Lactobacillus Acidophilus.
  • Miso – made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley.
  • Kombucha – an effervescent fermentation of black tea.

Supplementing with additional high quality probiotic supplements can be a great way to get more probiotics into your body. Taking a probiotic supplement can also naturally boost the good probiotics that are already in your system. Supplementation can be especially beneficial for sufferers of inflammatory skin problems like acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and dermatitis.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are like fertilisers for your good gut flora. Examples include:-

  • Inulin found in onions, garlic, leeks, witlof, endive, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus & bananas.
  • Fibre – such as flaxseeds, apples, oats.

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To avoid / limit

  • Sugar – bad bacteria feeds on sugar.
  • Artificial sweeteners – are now thought to harm the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Processed foods – are often loaded with sugar and gluten. They also often contain emulsifiers, which are added to a lot of processed foods to extend their shelf life ….and dramatically increase gut inflammation.
  • Unnecessary oral antibiotics – which can wipe out your beneficial, protective gut bacteria.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, which can cause intestinal and gut inflammation, damaging the lining and causing intestinal and gut permeability.
  • Stress – this connection is referred to as the gut-brain axis.
  • Alcohol – can irritate the stomach and intestines, cause inflammation and suppress certain vital hormone production.
  • Gluten – causes inflammation of the gut in most people.
  • Unfermented Dairy – can cause inflammation similar to gluten and sugar.

What else can help?

  • Exercise – researchers believe that exercise increases particular types of bacteria in the gut.
  • Sleep
  • Limiting stress (which decreases cortisol levels).
  • Bone broth – collagen is great for the gut and skin.

The importance of keeping things regular 

Our skin (which is our largest organ) is a major form of elimination for the body. If bowel motions aren’t regular, then toxins will need to be excreted elsewhere. 

As our face is covered in pores, it becomes the perfect back-up plan for excreting toxins. This can results in acne! SO, it’s really important to have regular bowel motions to ensure your body does not either store toxins or eliminate them via the skin. 

Good reads

  1. The Clever Guts Diet
    – Dr Michael Mosley
  2. GUT – The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ. – Giulia Enders.

Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse / Dermatology)

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