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9 Best Vitamins for Skin Health ----- Back

05.11.19 - Knowledge

9 Best Vitamins for Skin Health

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Words by Antoinette Barnardo

Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E … sometimes it seems like there is a vitamin for almost every letter in the alphabet. With a plethora of vitamins available on the market, it could be confusing to decide which are the best vitamins for your skin's health. 

The right vitamins can provide you with a strong immune system, repair cell damage, and heal wounds. This is why knowing what vitamins to consume is the key to clear, healthy skin. Our comprehensive guide on the best vitamins for healthy skin will help you better your knowledge on this topic. 

What Is the Skin Made Up Of? 

Before we dive into the best vitamins for skin health, let's first take a look at what the skin is made up of. Understanding how the skin is structured and the way it functions will help you better identify what your skin needs. 

The skin is the largest and fastest-growing organ of your body. It is made up of three primary layers — the epidermis (outermost), the dermis, and the hypodermis (innermost). 

The Epidermis

The epidermis consists of keratinocytes and Langerhans cells. They work together to form a protective barrier against wounds, bacteria, and viruses. Keratinocytes also make up 90% of the epidermal cells and produce keratin and other protective/waterproofing substances. 

Melanocytes are also present in this layer and protect the skin against harmful UV rays. However, as the skin ages, there is a reduction in the number of melanocytes which causes dull skin tone and age spots.

Last but not least, Merkel cells inhabit the deepest layer of the epidermis with sensory nerve endings for sensations.

The Dermis

The dermis is the next layer which is comprised of collagen fibres, elastic fibres, and fibroblasts. These components give the skin its elasticity and wound healing properties. 

This is also where the first signs of ageing normally occur as evidenced by a loss in skin elasticity, slower wound recovery, and fine lines. Skin ageing might cause the rate of wound healing to slow down by as much as four times.

Besides that, the dermis is also home to a network of blood vessels that transport essential nutrients to the skin cells. It also harbors the sebaceous glands that secrete natural sebum found on our skin and hair. 

Sweat glands are also found in the dermis which is necessary for sweat production and internal temperature regulation. Sweating helps your body to excrete water, urea, and uric acid.

The Hypodermis 

The innermost layer of the skin is the hypodermis (subcutis). It is made up of collagen cells and fat that provide energy for the body. Blood vessels, lymph vessels, and hair follicles can also be found here. 

Other Functions of the Skin

Another important role of the skin is its ability to synthesise vitamin D. UVB radiation transforms a naturally occurring substance found in the epidermis into vitamin D3. It then undergoes a series of chemical reactions to become vitamin D. 

While the skin may act as a protective barrier against infections and other maladies, it is also porous. This allows fat-soluble vitamins, topical medications, carbon dioxide, organic solvents, heavy metals, and water to be absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Now that we have a good grasp of how the skin works, let's move on to the best vitamins for healthy skin. 

What Are the Best Vitamins for Healthy Skin?

To prevent vitamin deficiencies, we have rounded up the 9 best vitamins that will help you achieve healthy skin. For each vitamin, we will look at what it does and how it can help with your skin concerns. 

1. Vitamin D 

Cholesterol is needed to make vitamin D from sunlight. A study has even shown that higher cholesterol levels may be linked to higher vitamin D levels in your body. 

As one of the best vitamins for your skin, this fat-soluble vitamin protects keratinocytes against photodamage (skin damage caused by UV rays). 

But what exactly are keratinocytes? They perform an important role in maintaining our immune systems by activating the Langerhans cells when an injury occurs. The Langerhans cells start maturing in the epidermis and the maturation process continues as they migrate into the dermis. These skin cells are the first line of defence against any microbial antigen that might enter the body through the wound opening. 

As such, vitamin D is essential for wound healing. One natural way to get sufficient vitamin D is to expose your skin to sunlight. However, remember to use sunscreen to prevent excessive sun damage. 

2. Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It plays an important role in regulating collagen gene transcription. Collagen is made up of four amino acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. 

Besides these four amino acids, collagen also consists of two derivative amino acids — hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine. These are formed when vitamin C acts as a cofactor for the enzymes involved in the hydroxylation processes of proline and lysine in collagen production. 

Studies have shown that vitamin C reduces erythema, a condition characterised by patchy redness due to increased blood flow to the skin capillaries. Hence, the anti-inflammatory nature of vitamin C is best used for relieving redness while improving skin elasticity. 

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, so eating them would be an easy way to include this essential vitamin in your daily diet rather than ingesting pills. 

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also known as retinol or retinoid, is a fat-soluble vitamin. This powerful antioxidant can downregulate sebum production. Thus, it is one of the best vitamins for oily-skinned individuals. 

Vitamin A is also important for desquamation and keratinization. Keratinization is the process in which new cells are produced in the epidermis and pushed towards the outside of the skin. These skin cells become hardened when they mature. 

Research has shown that retinoic acid increases epidermal hyaluronic acid. This substance stimulates the proliferation of keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Thus, the dermis is plumped up and provides enhanced protection against trauma and injury. As such, vitamin A is one of the best vitamins for anti-ageing. 

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps maintain your skin barrier. This is why it’s present in most moisturisers. 

A study has shown that topical application of vitamin E is effective in preventing UV-induced sun damage. Even though vitamin E is naturally produced in sebum, your diet may not supply you with the specific vitamin E derivatives that your skin needs. This is where vitamin E-based dietary supplements may be useful. 

5. Vitamin K2

Person holding a bundle of leafy greens

Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble, bacteria-based vitamin that is part of the larger vitamin K group. It promotes the K-dependent protein, MGP, which protects skin elastin and blood vessels. MGP has also been proven to prevent vascular calcification, thereby stopping the formation of varicose veins. 

To get your daily dose of this vitamin, try natto and high-fat dairy products like egg yolks and goose liver. Green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, romaine, and broccoli are also good sources of vitamin K2. Smaller amounts of vitamin K2 are also present in fish, liver, meat, eggs, and cereals. 

6. Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin, otherwise known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that is vital for promoting healthy skin. Vitamin B3 deficiency could affect the skin and mucous membranes adversely. This could result in hyperpigmentation, hyperkeratosis, and desquamation. These skin conditions could be further worsened with sun exposure. 

Given that your body cannot produce niacin, one sure way of getting sufficient niacin is to take vitamin B3 supplements. Another way is to consume a daily intake of foods that are high in niacin such as tuna, turkey, salmon, and anchovies.

7. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 

Riboflavin is a widely known water-soluble B vitamin that is important for maintaining skin health and mucous membranes. It synthesises the coenzyme FAD which is needed for three important chemical reactions in your body: 

  • The conversion of retinol (vitamin A) to retinoic acid
  • The conversion of tryptophan to niacin
  • The reduction of oxidised glutathione

8. Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) 

Another of the B vitamins (B5), pantothenic acid produces the coenzyme A (CoA) and the acyl carrier protein, both of which are essential for fatty acid synthesis. This water-soluble B vitamin also speeds up the normal rate of wound healing which makes it a star ingredient in most skincare products. 

9. CoQ10

CoQ10, also known as coenzyme 10, is a naturally occurring antioxidant in your body that prevents free radical damage. This fat-soluble vitamin also protects your skin against environmental aggressors and photo-ageing. Research has shown that this vitamin might be able to treat vitiligo, a condition that is also known as “skin fading.” 

One thing to note is that CoQ10 can be depleted by drugs such as statins, which interfere with the mevalonate pathway in the body. As such, an additional supplementation or a dietary source to boost this fat-soluble vitamin might be useful.

The Right Vitamins Can Improve Your Overall Health

As you can see, some of the best vitamins listed above are also antioxidants. Antioxidants are important to your health because they can reduce cell damage caused by free radicals. When the body cannot remove these free radicals, oxidative stress may result and affect bodily functions adversely. 

If you’re looking for a supplement to start you on your path to healthy skin, the “beauty-from-within” supplement could be your answer. It’s a TGA-listed product comprised of ingredients like selenium, biotin, vitamin C, and carotenoids such as lycopene and carnosic acid, which provide total skin rejuvenation.

With the best vitamins for skin health, you can now enjoy clear, glowing skin.

Words by Antoinette Barnardo

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