I hope everyone is doing well as we approach a possibly spring-like Valentine’s day. We are doing well here at Cleaver Medical Group and hope you are too. I wanted to dedicate this latest article to a question that I often get in clinic: “will supplement X help my skin?”. I want to clarify that this article is about oral supplements, -a follow up article after this one will focus on supplements/ingredients present in creams and other topicals.
Let us start alphabetically and discuss Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that helps to maintain both the dermis and epidermis of your skin. Vitamin A also helps to prevent UV damage by protecting against collagen breakdown and absorbing free radicals which thus reduces inflammation. This vitamin also plays an important role in wound healing. Too little Vitamin A can leave your skin bumpy and itchy.
Biotin (Vitamin B7) is an important component in keratin production. Keratin is a protein found in hair, skin, and nails. Biotin also helps to regulate the amount of oil that your skin makes, which is important for both healthy hair and skin. Low amounts of Biotin in your body can lead to brittle nails and weaker hair.
Vitamin C is another strong antioxidant that helps protect against inflammation and sun damage. Vitamin C is also an important cofactor in the production of Collagen. Fun fact: soldiers in the British Navy used to be nicknamed “limeys”, as the British Navy mandated that ships on long voyages incorporate limes, an excellent source of Vitamin C, into their diet. Too little Vitamin C can lead to easy bruising and bleeding gums, a condition known as scurvy (often present in other naval soldiers before the days of refrigeration and modern medicine).
Collagen is one of the most prevalent proteins in your body and makes up for 75% of the non-water weight of your skin. Collagen supplements can help to improve wrinkle depth and increase skin hydration while decreasing the roughness of your skin.
Vitamin D helps to create and maintain what is known as the “skin barrier”, which is your skin’s ability to protect itself from moisture-loss and attacks from bacteria and other pathogens. Too little Vitamin D can thus lead to less moisture in the skin.
Zinc is present in some of its highest concentrations in our body in the very top layers of skin. Zinc is an important component of wound healing after a cut or other damage to your skin. It helps cells to strengthen their walls and specialize their functions as they develop. Low levels of Zinc can cause your skin to have an eczema-like rash that doesn’t heal with typical creams and moisturizers.
Finally, please talk to your doctor before you consider taking any supplements. While it is beyond the scope of this article, it is actually possible to “overdose” and take too many of some of these supplements, which can lead to other problems that can be dangerous to your health. Hope that everyone has a great Valentine’s Day and that we get an early spring!
Weston Waxweiler MD
Cleaver Medical Group