We tend to think of skincare as something that involves creams and lotions and other topical products. However, the health and appearance of your body’s surface layer depend very much on what you put inside your body. Here’s a look at the vitamins that benefit your skin the most, so you can keep it youthful and glowing.
Starting at the top of the alphabet, we have vitamin A, a nutrient best known for aiding eyesight. Vitamin A is a component of several enzymes, proteins that perform different metabolic activities in the cells throughout your body. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can damage the structure of your skin. Over time, the accumulation of ROS damage can break down the cells and proteins in your skin, leading to wrinkles, age spots, and other surface-level effects of aging. Vitamin A deficiency can also cause wounds to heal slower than usual.
Additionally, vitamin A has immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Thanks to these, it helps reduce the redness and swelling of acne. It has a similar molecular structure to the retinoids used to treat severe acne, but fortunately, it is much safer. Taking vitamin A supplements can be a way to improve acne symptoms but without the unpleasant side effects of those strong medications.1
The B-vitamins are a group of organic nutrients with similar shapes and functions. One of these is biotin, or vitamin B7, which is needed for a healthy metabolism, and plays several roles in skin health. For example, B7 helps your bloodstream maintain a normal level of zinc (which we will discuss in a bit) and promotes the production of keratin, a protein that gives hair, nails, and your outer layer of skin (the epidermis) their strength. Biotin deficiency can lead to uncomfortable and unsightly skin conditions such as dermatitis.2.
We know that vitamin C boosts our immune systems, but it is also one of the essential nutrients for the health and beauty of your skin. The immune system benefits you get from taking vitamin C to benefit your skin in turn. A healthy immune system is better able to repair your skin when it gets damaged or infected. It also helps keep inflammation under control, which in turn protects against UV radiation damage from sunlight.3,4
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Another one of its important functions is to stimulate the production of collagen, the protein that keeps your skin firm and elastic. Collagen forms a strong structural lattice that holds moisture in and keeps germs out, and its loss leads to sagging skin. On top of that, vitamin C blocks enzymes that break down collagen, helping your skin stay smooth and fresh longer.5
You are likely well aware that vitamin D comes from your skin; exposure to sunlight causes your skin cells to convert dehydrocholesterol into this vitamin. Did you know that your skin needs vitamin D to work properly too? Vitamin D helps control the growth and production of keratinocytes, the cells that form the sturdy, protective outer layer of your skin.6
Maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in your bloodstream is essential to keep inflammation throughout your body under control. Reducing inflammation in your skin, in turn, helps manage several skin diseases, such as acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis.6 Vitamin D can also help reduce the damaging effects of sunburns, such as redness, swelling, and photoaging.7 Taking vitamin D supplements may even help protect against skin cancer, while avoiding excess sun exposure which can raise the risk.8
Like several other vitamins, vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant. Sometimes called “tocopherol,” vitamin E plays a vital role in wound healing and skin regeneration. Taking vitamin E supplements also helps reduce inflammation throughout your body, including in your skin. Some studies show that vitamin E can be useful against acne, and in combination with vitamin C, helps reduce the risk of sunburns.9
Selenium is an essential mineral, meaning that your body needs it to function correctly. It is a component of just a few enzymes in your body, but ones that are very important for your skin’s health. These enzymes are known as “selenoproteins,” and they act as antioxidants. Supplements that contain selenium help protect against skin damage from oxygen radicals and UV radiation, and taking it could help stave off age-related skin effects.10
Zinc is another essential mineral and an important one for skin health. It is necessary for maintaining your skin’s strength and ability to heal itself.11 People who don’t get enough zinc in their diet often develop skin conditions like dermatitis, ulcers, and warts.12 Taking zinc supplements is an easy way to alleviate skin problems related to zinc deficiency.
Zinc also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Through these, it can help protect your skin against sunburn, long-term UV damage, and the most visually apparent effects of aging. This also helps keep bacteria and other pathogens at bay, such as those that contribute to acne and other blemishes.9
As a part of your skincare regimen, make sure you are getting enough of these vitamins every day!
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2. Ogawa Y, Kinoshita M, Sato T, Shimada S, Kawamura T. Biotin Is Required for the Zinc Homeostasis in the Skin. Nutrients. 2019;11(4).
3. Gegotek A, Ambrozewicz E, Jastrzab A, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Rutin and ascorbic acid cooperation in antioxidant and antiapoptotic effect on human skin keratinocytes and fibroblasts exposed to UVA and UVB radiation. Archives of dermatological research. 2019;311(3):203-219.
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10. Cai Z, Zhang J, Li H. Selenium, aging, and aging-related diseases. Aging clinical and experimental research. 2018.
11. Lansdown AB, Mirastschijski U, Stubbs N, Scanlon E, Agren MS. Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects. Wound repair and regeneration: official publication of the Wound Healing Society [and] the European Tissue Repair Society. 2007;15(1):2-16.
12. Khattar JA, Musharrafieh UM, Tamim H, Hamadeh GN. Topical zinc oxide vs. salicylic acid-lactic acid combination in the treatment of warts. International journal of dermatology. 2007;46(4):427-430.