What You Need to Know About Supplements for Skin

What You Need to Know About Supplements for Skin*

Learn the connections between your skin health and overall health and wellness* 

You need to protect the skin you’re in. Your skin is your multi-tasking organ, constantly working to protect you from germs and bacteria, helping to regulate your body temperature, and acting as the first line of defense in your immune system.1*

And this is just a snapshot of the roles your skin has in your overall health and wellness.*

Often, we only think of the skin we can see – the epidermis, but the middle layer of skin (dermis) and the bottom layer (hypodermis) also have essential roles in supporting body functions and wellness.1*

This underscores for us why we want you to understand why skin health goes beyond wrinkles and aging. Keep reading to learn the facts on skin health and why your skin is a window into your whole-body health.*

Why Skin Health Must Be A Priority*

Prioritizing skin health is essential because your skin plays a crucial role in the health and functioning of your entire body. As your largest organ, your skin helps prevent damage to your bones, internal organs, and muscles and it helps protect you from illness.1, 2 *

Your skin has three layers, each with specific functions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 *

1.  Epidermis

This is your top layer of skin that you can see, feel, and touch. Made primarily of keratin (keratinocytes), these cells harden and pack together tightly to form a protective barrier against the environment.

The epidermis is constantly regrowing and renewing itself, with new cells pushed to the surface and hardening every four weeks. This outer protective layer, steadily grows thicker with calluses forming in areas where there is pressure or rubbing. These calluses protect the skin from additional pressure and wear and tear.

The epidermis has four primary functions:

  1. Protective barrier against germs, bacteria, sun, rain, snow, and other elements in the environment, keeping them out of your bloodstream.
  2. Immune system support with the activity of Langerhans cells, working as part of your immune system.
  3. Gives you color with the action of melanin, the natural pigment in your skin. 
  4. Creating new skin every four weeks to renew and strengthen protective capabilities. 

2.  Dermis

This middle layer of your skin is attached to your epidermis and makes up about 90% of your skin thickness. The dermis is a tightly woven network of collagen fibers, giving your skin elasticity and strength. 

The dermis has six primary functions:

  1. Communicates heat, cold, softness, itchiness, pain, and other touch sensations. The nerve receptors in your dermis enable sense of touch.
  2. Delivers blood, oxygen, and other nutrients to the epidermis through a network of capillaries (small blood vessels).
  3. Helps regulate body temperature by releasing sweat through your skin pores.
  4. Keeps your skin elastic, strong, and resilient with the actions of collagen and elastin proteins. 
  5. Supports and attaches to your hair follicles, so your hair can grow.
  6. Provides a protective layer of oil, keeping your skin soft and smooth and limiting water absorption when you’re swimming or out in the rain.

3.  Hypodermis

This subcutaneous or subcutis layer of skin is primarily fat and connective tissue. The hypodermis has five primary functions:

  1. Produces hormones in the fat cells including leptin, estrogen, and vitamin D. Vitamin D, a hormone and essential nutrient is created when your skin is exposed to sunlight. 
  2. Connects your skin to your bones and muscles. 
  3. Regulates your body temperature with fat cell activity. 
  4. Gives your blood vessels and nerves support, so they can reach your entire body. 
  5. Cushions and supports your bones and muscles, helping protect you from falls, bumps, or shocks. 

The Link Between Skin Health and Your Overall Health*

Dermatologists and other health experts can instantly learn about your health and underlying conditions based on your skin color, structure, and tone. 3

You likely have friends who look younger or older than their actual age, or perhaps, you're the person who appears younger than you are. This is all down to how your skin looks – wrinkles, dark circles, texture, and more.3*

As you think about your skin and looking after it, keep in mind these skin facts: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 * 

  • Your skin is your heaviest and largest organ. Skin weighs between 7.5 – 22 pounds, based on individual height and weight and is 1.5 – 2 square meters in size. 
  • People who may be sick or low in red blood cells may have pale looking skin. 
  • A yellowish hue may indicate a liver or other health condition.
  • Sunken skin around your eyes or dry skin may be an indicator that you’re dehydrated.
  • Skin itchiness can be a sign of a range of health conditions or a response to medication. 
  • Rashes, flaking skin, frequent bruising, or discoloration may be signs of underlying health conditions. 

If you notice any changes in your skin’s appearance or have any other symptoms, please consult your healthcare practitioner. The information in this article should not be considered healthcare advice. *

Supplements for Skin Support*

These skin supplement ingredients may provide support and benefits for your skin: * 

  • Collagen: this protein acts as a support network for your skin, giving it flexibility, firmness, strength, and the ability to absorb moisture. As you age, your body’s natural collagen production decreases. 8, 9, 10 *

A common ingredient in skin supplements, collagen may support your skin’s elasticity and encourage hydration. 8, 9, 10 *

  • Keratin: is a fibrous structural protein, supporting epithelial (skin) cells from damage or stress and is a key structural component for your skin, hair, and nails. You have 54 different kinds of keratin in your body, with 37 of these working to support your skin cell health and structure. 11 *

Keratin has two essential roles for your skin: holding your skin together to create a barrier so it does not tear and to form the epidermis or outermost layer of skin, protecting you from the environment. 11 *

  • Vitamin A: is required by the epidermis and hypodermis to prevent the sun from breaking down collagen. Additionally, this antioxidant may provide a minimal amount of protection from sunburn, help heal cuts and scrapes, and support hair follicle oil glands. 12, 13 *

If you’re low in vitamin A, your skin may be itchy, bumpy, or dry. 12,13 *

  • Vitamin E: is integral to the collagen functions for your skin, helping collagen retain its form and shape. As an antioxidant, vitamin E may help protect your skin from free radicals, potentially reducing your chances of some skin conditions. 13 *
  • Selenium: this mineral may help protect your skin from UV irradiation-oxidative stress and might provide beneficial support for psoriasis. Some studies show a relationship between selenium deficiencies and an elevated potential for some skin conditions. 13, 14, 15 *
  • Zinc: six percent of your body’s total amount of zinc is located in your epidermis and dermis, with the majority of this mineral being in your epidermis. The primary role of zinc is to help protect your skin from sun damage and it may help your skin heal from scrapes, cuts, and abrasions. 13, 14, 15 *

How to Naturally Support and Protect Your Skin*

To naturally support and protect your skin, keep in mind these lifestyle habits: 16, 17 *

  • Maintain a healthy balanced diet rich in the vitamins and minerals essential for skin health. Eat a range of healthful skin-supportive foods including walnuts, fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, avocados, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and red grapes. Check the ingredients in your skin supplements, to make sure they contain vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, zinc, keratin, and collagen. 
  • Always be sun aware and protect your skin from the sun. While your skin needs exposure to the sun to make vitamin D, you still need to think about sun protection. Too much sun exposure may cause wrinkles, skin aging, and contribute to serious skin conditions. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit your time outdoors when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking causes your skin to age prematurely, encourages wrinkles, and narrows the blood flow in your capillaries, making it difficult for your skin to get enough oxygen and nutrients. Smoking is attributed to damaging the collagen in your skin, causing it to lose elasticity and strength. 
  • Treat your skin gently, during washing, showering, and bathing. Avoid vigorously rubbing or drying your skin, use warm water rather than hot when showering or bathing, and try to use gentle or mild soaps and cleansers. Remember to pay attention to your skin’s moisture level and apply moisturizers as needed. Supplements for skin support and health may help ease the impacts of daily wear and tear. 
  • Excessive or constant stress may cause your skin to react, triggering a range of skin conditions. Try to find ways to relieve stress, including exercising, talking with a friend, getting enough sleep, and limiting your list of responsibilities. 

It’s easy to overlook your skin and forget that it’s constantly active, trying to protect you from the elements, delivering nutrients, and keeping you looking your best. *

The good news is there are natural and accessible ways to protect and support your skin health so your skin can function at its best for you. *

Consult your healthcare team before making changes to your nutrition, exercise, or supplements. Discuss all supplements, including the vitamins and minerals you take or plan to take, as these may interact differently with underlying health conditions and medication. Always follow the suggested use instructions and read the warnings on the supplement product label before consumption.

References

  1. Skin: Cleveland Clinic (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin
  2. Healthy Skin: American Skin Association (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.americanskin.org/resource/
  3. How does skin work?: National Library of Medicine (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279255/
  4. Hypodermis (Subcutaneous Tissue): Cleveland Clinic (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21902-hypodermis-subcutaneous-tissue
  5. Leptin & Leptin Resistance: Cleveland Clinic (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22446-leptin
  6. What Your Skin Can Tell You About Your Overall Health: American Academy of Dermatology Association (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/skin-overall-health
  7. Keep Your Skin Healthy: National Institutes of Health (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/11/keep-your-skin-healthy
  8. Reily, David M., Jennifer Lozano. “Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty.” Plastic Aesthetic Res 2021;8. doi:10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153 (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://parjournal.net/article/view/3863
  9. Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16. PMID: 30681787. (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30681787/
  10. Asserin, Jérome, Elian Lati, Toshiaki Shioya, and Janne Prawitt. “The Effect of Oral Collagen Peptide Supplementation on Skin Moisture and the Dermal Collagen Network: Evidence from an Ex Vivo Model and Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 14, no. 4 (December 2015): 291–301. (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12174
  11. Keratin: Cleveland Clinic (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23204-keratin
  12. Vitamin A and Skin Health: Linus Pauling Institute (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-A
  13. Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Webmd.com (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.webmd.com/beauty/nutrients-for-healthy-skin
  14. Park K. Role of micronutrients in skin health and function. Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2015 May;23(3):207-17. doi: 10.4062/biomolther.2015.003. Epub 2015 May 1. PMID: 25995818; PMCID: PMC4428712. (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
  15. Minerals and Skin Health: Linus Pauling Institute (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/minerals
  16. The 12 Best Foods for Healthy Skin: Healthline.com (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-foods-for-healthy-skin
  17. Skin Care: 5 Tips for Healthy Skin: May Clinic (Accessed June 14, 2023) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/skin-care/art-20048237

Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University's Botanical Med icine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.