By Andrea Bartels CNP NNCP RNT
07 Apr 2021
Zinc and Vitamin A: When it comes to skin, one can't talk about one of these two nutrients while ignoring the other. This is because the mineral zinc facilitates the conversion of the beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables into retinol-which is also known as the skin-essential vitamin A. Skin conditions that can involve zinc and retinol deficiency include acne, dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and xerosis (abnormally dry skin and mucous membranes).
While retinol has long been known as vital to the skin's keratinization and wound healing, toxicity risk of supplementary doses of the vitamin prevent many from using it. Fortunately, taking zinc is a safer option.
As an example, one systematic review and meta-analysis of dozens of studies showed that zinc is an effective treatment option for acne, reducing the number of pimples in study participants. Supplementation of an amino acid chelated zinc compound such as Zinc Glycinate provides highly bioavailable zinc that can be taken with a meal.
Vitamin C: This nutrient (also called ascorbic acid) can be found in both the dermis and epidermis, with the majority of it in the epidermis. Although Vitamin C does not possess sunscreen or sun-blocking abilities, it protects the skin from UV damage through its antioxidant properties.
As an antioxidant, ascorbic acid protects the skin from free radical-induced damage from the sun. It also helps Vitamin E continue its antioxidant work in the lipid layer of the skin. In addition, collagen and elastin are skin proteins that cannot be manufactured and maintained without Vitamin C.
Deficiency of ascorbic acid causes scurvy, with signs like poor wound healing, infections and bruising of the skin. Since it's a water-soluble nutrient that gets used up fast, else eliminated when we urinate, using a supplementary slow-release product such as Pure Lab Slow Release Vitamin C is recommended.
Vitamin D: This vitamin regulates several processes in the maintenance of skin tissue, including the barrier and immune defense functions of the skin. A meta-analysis of eczema/atopic dermatitis studies showed that blood levels of vitamin D are lower in eczema patients, and that supplementation of Vitamin D decreased the severity of clinical signs as well as symptoms of eczema.
In addition, the scaly, inflammatory skin condition called psoriasis also benefits from Vitamin D, as evidenced through the improvements seen when sufferers receive regular moderate sun exposure. When vitamin D is so important for multiple organ systems, nearly everyone should be taking a dry form Vitamin D like Pure Lab Vitamins Vitamin D-available in regular and vegan formulations.
B Vitamins: Dermatitis has long been known as a classic sign of niacin (Vitamin B-3) deficiency. Meanwhile, Vitamin B-6 deficiency is linked to seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp and can also be blamed for those painful cracks that develop in the corners of the mouth. Also, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using supplementary Vitamin B 5 (pantothenic acid), showed reduction in the number of acne lesions after 3 months.
Supplementary B Vitamins are great ways to ensure your B vitamins are topped up, but make sure that they are in the biologically active form for best results.
Selenium: This mineral is critical for the antioxidant activities of glutathione peroxidase, one of our body's own antioxidants that fight the free radicals generated by inflammation and tissue damage. Inflammatory skin conditions that have been associated with low blood levels of selenium include psoriasis, acne and eczema. Selenium deficiency is also associated with increased risk of esophageal cancer and prostate cancer, so taking a highly bioavailable selenium compound like Selenomethionine can be a good idea for many people.
Can Nutrients fight Aging and Skin Cancer?
We all know that excessive sun exposure and sunburn predisposes one to development of wrinkles and skin cancers. However, what's not common knowledge is that the free radical damage from the UVA and UVB rays that causes the genetic mutations that lead to skin cancer may be minimized by ensuring high intake of antioxidants. This means foods rich in Vitamin C, E, carotenoids, polyphenols, and other darkly hued pigments in spices, fruits and vegetables.
Supplementation of some of these nutrients is also an excellent way to support one's skin.
In an American study using data from over 4,000 participants within the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a higher Vitamin C intake, along with higher intake of omega-6 as well as lower intake of overall fats and carbohydrates was associated with a "better skin-aging appearance".
Nourish the Skin You're In
Now you see that despite what the makers of skin care products convey in their advertisements, skin health doesn't come in a jar, pump or acid peel. On the contrary, it comes from nutrition, and is highly influenced by what is happening inside the body. Take care of your skin from the inside out by eating nutrient-dense food balanced in healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates while supplementing the vitamin and minerals to support your own personal skin concerns.
Barrea L, Savanelli MC, Di Somma C, et al. Vitamin D and its role in psoriasis: An overview of the dermatologist and nutritionist. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017;18(2):195-205.
Cosgrove M et al. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 86, Issue 4, October 2007:1225-1231.
Hoffman, Kristine. When Vitamin and Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin and Nail Changes. Podiatry Today: Dec. 30, 2014. Accessed April 5, 2020.
Kanda N, Hoashi T, Saeki H. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(15):5405. Published 2020 Jul 29.
Kim MJ, Kim SN, Lee YW, Choe YB, Ahn KJ. Vitamin D Status and Efficacy of Vitamin D Supplementation in Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):789. Published 2016 Dec 3.
Lv J, Ai P, Lei S, Zhou F, Chen S, Zhang Y. Selenium levels and skin diseases: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2020 Dec;62:126548.
Umar M, Sastry KS, Al Ali F, Al-Khulaifi M, Wang E, Chouchane AI. Vitamin D and the Pathophysiology of Inflammatory Skin Diseases. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2018;31(2):74-86.
Yang M, Moclair B, Hatcher V, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a novel pantothenic Acid-based dietary supplement in subjects with mild to moderate facial acne. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2014;4(1):93-101.
Yee BE, Richards P, Sui JY, Marsch AF. Serum zinc levels and efficacy of zinc treatment in acne vulgaris: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Dermatol Ther. 2020 Nov;33(6):e14252.
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