Beauty from Within: 6 Supplements to Support Healthy Skin

Feeling good about the way you look starts with how you feel on the inside.  Many of the same things that contribute to chronic health conditions – inflammation and oxidative damage – can also influence your skin’s appearance.  It takes a holistic approach to address the health of your skin to help reduce the impact.

If you aren’t feeling or looking your best, or simply want to start taking better care of your skin, a few simple changes to your lifestyle may be all that’s needed.  Making sure that your diet is full of phytonutrient-rich foods is a great way to start.  But another way to support these changes is by adding supplements. 

These six supplements can help you feel beautiful on the inside and out.

1. Collagen. 

Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in your body. It’s found everywhere, from the skin to bones and joints. There are at least sixteen types of collagen in the body, but the kind found in your skin helps keep skin feeling plump and firm.  As you age, collagen production naturally decreases, leading to changes in the skin’s texture, appearance, and elasticity.  

Collagen supplementation may help the health of your skin by supporting improvements in wrinkles, elasticity, and hydration.  One study found that people who took a combination supplement of type II collagen (along with chondroitin and hyaluronic acid) saw improvements in face and eye wrinkles, skin elasticity, and skin collagen content.  They also noted decreased skin dryness and redness.  Similar improvements in elasticity and appearance of eye wrinkles have been replicated in several other studies on collagen.

Another study found that supplementation with collagen peptides helped skin feel more hydrated and supported increases in collagen in the skin.  The results were noticeable even twelve weeks after the trial ended.

2. Essential fatty acids (EFA). 

Essential fatty acids are types of fat that your body can’t make, so you have to obtain them from your diet.  They have many vital jobs in the body and are also critical for a healthy skin barrier.  Research suggests that certain EFAs can support reductions in inflammation in the body that can contribute to aging skin. 

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA). Omega-3 supplementation has been studied for its potential ability to protect against UV radiation, sunburn, and even photoaging.  It may do this through its anti-inflammatory activity and protection against oxidative stress.

Several other studies have examined the effect of healthy fats in the diet, including flaxseed, and fish oil, and found several skin improvements, including improved hydration, skin texture, and improved measures of skin barrier function. 7 Supplementation with fish oil or linoleic acid (found in many vegetable oils) may also support reductions in skin breakouts.

3. Vitamin C. 

You may automatically connect vitamin C to your immune health, but this nutrient is also vital for vibrant skin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to combat free radical damage.  It is also a cofactor for the production of the particular amino acids needed for collagen synthesis.  Furthermore, it may also support the expression of genes for collagen synthesis. 11

Vitamin C works synergistically with other nutrients. For example, one study found that people who took a supplemental drink containing vitamin C, several other antioxidants and a fish oil supplement saw improvements in the depth of facial wrinkles and an increase of new collagen fibres in the skin. Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in the biosynthesis of collagen, an important process in the prevention of skin looking more mature.

Another study that examined the impact of dietary nutrients on skin found that women who ate more vitamin C-rich foods were less likely to have significant wrinkles or skin dryness – both contributing to the appearance of aging skin.

4. Hyaluronic acid

Like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid (HA) helps your skin by supporting moisture retention and healthy collagen production. You’ll often see it in topical beauty products, but HA taken orally can also help with the appearance of your skin.

You’ll find hyaluronic acid naturally present in some foods, but supplemental HA can provide a more concentrated dose. It’s often used in combination with other supplements, so more research is needed on its individual effects. 

One study found that oral HA combined with several other nutrients, including collagen, improved signs of sun damage and hydration in women more than the placebo group after six weeks.  Similar studies found that oral HA improved the texture and moisture of the skin.

5. Probiotics.

Supporting the health of your microbiome (the collection of healthy bacteria residing in and on your body) is important for your overall health and the appearance of your skin. 

There’s now a well-known close relationship between the type of healthy bacteria in your gut and the health of your skin.  

Specifically, the bacteria living in your intestines and the metabolites they produce may support the health of your skin via an influence on your immune system and inflammatory response. Some evidence shows that gastrointestinal disorders that can disrupt the microbiome can also lead to the development of skin conditions.  The presence or imbalance of certain types of bacteria on the skin is also associated with increases in breakouts and acne.

As a result, keeping your gut healthy may support the appearance of your skin, especially for inflammatory skin conditions.  Including probiotic-rich foods in the diet, such a yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut, is a start, and supplemental probiotics can add a higher therapeutic dose.

6. Green tea extract.

If you love a warm drink in the morning, you may want to make sure you are sipping green tea.  Green tea is a natural way to support an even and healthy complexion. Green tea’s potent antioxidant activity may help reduce free radical damage, while its anti-inflammatory properties may help with smoother skin texture.

Green tea contains phytochemicals that help protect your skin cells from oxidative stressors and support healthy inflammation response. Supplementation with green tea extract has produced beneficial results for skin health, including increases in collagen, elasticity, and improved texture when taking orally while reducing the appearance of wrinkles when applied topically.

Interestingly, research suggests that green tea polyphenols may stimulate autophagy, the self-cleaning tool (usually associated with fasting) that the body uses to remove old and damaged cellular molecules.  This may help support the removal of pro-oxidants that can contribute to an aged appearance of skin.

Targeting healthy skin from within

When it comes to vibrant skin, you can’t skip healthy habits, but these supplements can provide additional support.  Targeted nutrition through food and supplements can help you feel good about the way you look while also supporting your health.

While you can’t stop the natural progression of aging over time, you can take steps to control the influence of environmental exposures.  If you aren’t sure where to start, working with your healthcare practitioner can help you tailor a plan that works best for your skin type and needs. 

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