What are the Best Vitamins for Skin and Internal Beauty?
Your skin is the largest organ on your body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.
The skin has three layers:
- The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
- The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
- The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.
Skin is made up of several different components, including water, protein, lipids, and different minerals and chemicals. Throughout your life, your skin will change constantly. In fact, your skin will regenerate itself approximately every 27 days. Proper skin care is essential to maintaining the health and vitality of this protective organ.
While cleansing and moisturizing the skin are essential parts of any good skin care routine, the most important factor in determining skin health and appearance is the nutrients that we consume. The health and appearance of your skin depend upon key nutrients, and if you provide your skin with the nutrients it needs to build, grow, and repair itself, then you can greatly improve your skin health and tone.
As Zuma Co-Founder Richard Helfrich says:
“The fountain of youth is not in what we do outwardly, but what we do internally. By keeping our cells fed, oxygenated and protected, the body does not age from the inside out. Thereby, resulting in profound external benefits.”
So, What are the Nutrients Needed for Optimal Skin Health?
The health and regeneration of the skin are primarily dependent upon two components—collagen and fat. However, both collagen and fat also depend upon key nutrients. Collagen makes up approximately one third of the body’s protein, 60% of our heart, 40% of our skin, and is a key constituent in our tendons, ligaments, organs and more.
The body naturally produces its own collagen, but it requires specific nutrients to do so. After the age of 30, our body’s natural collagen production slows down. However, if we consume the proper doses of the essential nutrients needed for building collagen, we can support our body in its natural production of collagen. Collagen production depends upon:
- Vitamin C
- B Vitamins
- Orthosylic Acid (reduced form of silica)
Our Zuma Nutrition team have put together a presorted combination of the precursors to collagen, in our collagen precursor daily packs. This combination of 8 daily capsules provides the building blocks of collagen to the body, and is 100% vegan and far more effective than animal collagen supplements.
Fats are substances that help the body use some vitamins and keep the skin healthy; they are also the main way the body stores energy. The nutrients needed for the proper production of healthy fats in the body are:
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3-6-9
Lysine is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Essentially, it is a building block for protein, and is considered an essential amino acid because your body cannot make it, so you need to obtain it from food.
Lysine is required for the formation of collagen, a protein that acts as a scaffold and helps support and give structure to skin and bones. It is important for normal growth and muscle turnover and used to form carnitine, a substance found in most cells of your body. It also helps transport fats across your cells to be burned for energy.
L-lysine is the form of lysine your body can utilize, and it is naturally found in food, as well as in amino acid supplements. Lysine is found in many legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils, and is also found in fenugreek seeds, spirulina, certain fish, eggs, and certain animals.
Proline is considered to be a “nonessential amino acid” because the human body can synthesize some on its own, unlike certain other amino acids that must be obtained from external sources. For example, glutamate can be used to synthesize proline, although getting proline directly from food sources is useful for boosting your levels.
Proline is essential for forming collagen, regenerating cartilage, forming connective tissue, repairing skin damage and wounds, healing the gut lining, and repairing joints. Of all the amino acids that form collagen, proline’s effects on promoting skin health have probably been the most well-researched.
Proline is converted into hydroxlysine and hydroxyproline in order to help form collagen, which is the most abundant protein found in the human body and the main component that forms connective tissue. Proline amino acids make up about 15 percent of collagen, and proline, glycine and hydroxyproline combined represent more than 50 percent of the total amino acid content of collagen. Thanks to proline, our bodies can build enough collagen to support our overall health, since collagen is found nearly everywhere inside the body — including the muscles, teeth, skin, bones, organs, joints, etc.
Proline is found in cabbage, soy, asparagus, peanuts, chives, wheat, watercress, beans, buckwheat, cucumber, chickpeas, lupins, alfalfa sprouts, beef, chicken, pork, monkfish, and cod.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate, is a vitamin found in various foods is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. Vitamin C is found at high levels in the epidermis (outer layer of skin) as well as the dermis (inner layer of skin).
Vitamin C plays a vital role in the body’s natural collagen synthesis. It helps to heal damaged skin and, in some cases, reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Adequate vitamin C intake can also help repair and prevent dry skin.
Another reason vitamin C is one of the best vitamins for healthy skin, is because it can enhance the effectiveness of sunscreens applied to your skin for protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It does this by decreasing cell damage and helping the healing process of bodily wounds.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits, kiwi, papaya, tomatoes, leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, strawberries, amla (gooseberries), sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.
B vitamins are necessary for nearly every process within the body and are among the best vitamins for skin care. They help turn food into energy and affect the health of our nervous system, metabolism, organs, muscles, skin, and hair. They’re also essential for cell growth, development, and overall functioning. As such, they offer serious benefits to skin health, since our skin is constantly regenerating. The healthier your skin, the faster it renews.
However, we’ve got a relatively small storage tank for B vitamins, which means we need to keep refilling these vitamins each day. Because of this, B vitamins are also one of the nutrient groups that people are often deficient in. Since each B vitamin impacts skin health differently, it’s helpful to know which foods provide what vitamins, and the role each vitamin plays in the body.
Thiamine was the first B vitamin ever discovered. It helps to convert glucose into energy, aids in wound healing, and is essential for proper nerve functions. Sometimes called the “anti-stress vitamin,” it bolsters the immune system and soothes the nervous system, helping prevent stress-related breakouts.
Sources of Vitamin B1: Whole grains and fortified cereals/grains, wheat germ, legumes, sunflower seeds, mussels, pork.
B2 aids cell turnover and collagen maintenance, which protects the structural integrity of your skin, reduces inflammation, and speeds wound healing. It also helps with mucus secretion in the skin, thus preventing the dryness that leads to oil production (and therefore acne) and improves zinc absorption, another important mineral for skin health. B2 is one of the best vitamins for clear skin as well as one of the best vitamins for skin acne. Its ability to help with mucus secretion and prevent dryness also makes it one of the best vitamins for dry skin.
Sources of Vitamin B2: Dairy products, mushrooms, beef liver, spinach, almonds, seaweed.
A skin-conditioning powerhouse, B3 treats a variety of skin conditions and irritations, including dermatitis, acne, rosacea, eczema, dry and sun-damaged skin, and hyperpigmentation. It’s also a strong anti-aging ingredient and as such, features prominently in skin care products targeted at fine lines and wrinkles. Because of vitamin B3’s ability to treat a variety of skin conditions, it is often considered to be one of the most essential vitamins for your skin.
Sources of Vitamin B3: Turkey, chicken, dairy products, liver, mushrooms, fish, peas, fortified bread and cereals.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
A humectant, B5 preserves moisture in the skin, which improves skin elasticity and contributes to a fuller, more hydrated looking face. Since hydrated skin is also more resilient, B5 can help prevent acne and reduce signs of aging, too, making it one of the best vitamins for aging skin.
Sources of Vitamin B5: Mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato, legumes, chicken, turkey, broccoli.
Another major stress-buster, B6 helps to regulate mood and sleep by aiding the body in producing serotonin (the “happy hormone”), melatonin (the sleep hormone), and norepinephrine (a stress hormone), among others. Both stress and inadequate sleep raise inflammation in the body, reduce cell regeneration, and contribute to dryness — all factors that lead to breakouts and premature aging.
Sources of Vitamin B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach, bananas.
B7 is needed for the metabolism of fatty acids and protects cells from damage and water loss, helping to keep your skin moist and plump. Some signs of a deficiency are brittle, dry hair, brittle nails, and dry, flaky skin. Severe cases result in red and scaly skin. B7 is one of the best vitamins for the skin as it also fights inflammation and protects against acne, fungal infections, and rashes.
Sources of Vitamin B7: Almonds, sweet potato, eggs, onions, whole grains, tomatoes, sardines, broccoli. While it’s often included in many hair and skin care products, it’s most beneficial when ingested.
B9 (Folic Acid)
B9 works as an antioxidant to promote cell turnover and fight free radical damage. It is usually recommended as a prenatal vitamin as it helps prevent birth defects. Studies have also shown that when applied topically along with creatine, it fights signs of sun damage and aging, leading to firmer looking skin.
Sources of Vitamin B9: Dark, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus, beans and legumes, okra, nuts and seeds, beets.
B12 is necessary for cell reproduction and can be applied topically for skin benefits because it reduces inflammation, dryness, and acne. It is sometimes used to treat conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Sources of Vitamin B12: Eggs, dairy, fish, meat, chlorella, nutritional yeast, tempeh.
Orthosylic Acid is a natural substance found in seafood, seawater, vegetables, whole grains, and certain beverages. Sometimes referred to as "soluble silica," orthosylic acid is a dietary form of silicon, a mineral involved in the formation of collagen and bone. Orthosylic acid is known to improve nails, protect skin from the negative effects of aging, preserve dental health, and stimulate digestion. It has also been used in the treatment of a variety of health conditions, such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, and heart disease, among others.
Common food sources of orthosylic acid include bread and other grain products, especially those which are less refined, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables, including boiled green beans, boiled spinach, bananas, and dates.
CLA (Conjugated linoleic acids) are a family of at least 28 isomers of linoleic acid found mostly in the meat and dairy products derived from ruminants. However, there are also plant-based sources of CLA often produced from linoleic acid in safflower oil. CLA is essentially a type of polyunsaturated, omega-6 fatty acid. In other words, it’s technically a trans-fat — but a natural type of trans fat that occurs in many healthy foods. Unlike industrial trans fats which are harmful to health when consumed in high amounts, natural trans fats like CLA can have numerous health benefits.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. Naturally occurring vitamin E is not a single compound; instead, vitamin E is a group of molecules with related structures, some of which may have unique properties in the skin.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E primarily reacts with reactive oxygen species (ROS). In addition, vitamin E can also absorb the energy from ultraviolet (UV) light. Thus, it plays an important role in photoprotection, preventing UV-induced free radical damage to the skin. Vitamin E may also have related anti-inflammatory roles in the skin.
Antioxidants protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, which are molecules that contain an unshared electron.
Unshared electrons are highly energetic and react rapidly with oxygen to form reactive oxygen species (ROS). The body forms ROS when it converts food to energy, and antioxidants might protect cells from the damaging effects of ROS. The body is also exposed to free radicals from environmental exposures, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of ROS formed when fat undergoes oxidation. Research shows that by limiting free-radical production, vitamin E might help prevent or delay the chronic health issues associated with free radicals.
In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function, cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes.
Vitamin E is commonly found in various nuts and seeds, as well as in green leafy vegetables.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the most important omega-3 fatty acids. Like most omega-3 fats, it's linked to many health benefits. Part of every cell in your body, DHA plays a vital role in your brain and is absolutely crucial during pregnancy and infancy. Since your body can't produce it in adequate amounts, you need to obtain it from your diet.
DHA is a component of every cell in your body and a vital structural component of your skin, eyes, and brain. In fact, DHA comprises over 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids in your brain and up to 25% of its total fat content.
DHA is also known to be anti-inflammatory, and increasing your DHA intake can help balance the excess of inflammatory omega-6 fats that is typical of Western diets rich in soybean and corn oil.
DHA is found in flaxseed, seaweed, certain types of algae, fish, eggs, hempseeds, certain nuts and seeds, edamame, and kidney beans.
Omega 3-6-9 Fatty Acids
Omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids are all important dietary fats. Interestingly, each one has a number of health benefits for your body. However, it's important to get the right balance of omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids in your diet, as an imbalance may contribute to a number of health issues.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, a type of fat your body can't make. The term "polyunsaturated" refers to their chemical structure, as "poly" means many and "unsaturated" refers to double bonds. Together they mean that omega-3 fatty acids have many double bonds. "Omega-3" refers to the position of the final double bond in the chemical structure, which is three carbon atoms from the "omega" or tail end of the molecular chain.
Since the human body can't produce omega-3s, these fats are referred to as "essential fats," meaning that you have to get them from your diet. Omega-3 fats are a crucial part of human cell membranes. They also have a number of other important functions such as improving heart health, supporting mental health, reducing weight, fighting inflammation and promoting bone health.
Omega 3s are commonly found in salmon, mackerel, sardines, various seeds such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hempseeds, various nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamia, and avocado.
Like omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. The only difference is that the last double bond is six carbons from the omega end of the fatty acid molecule. Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential, so you need to obtain them from your diet. These fats are primarily used for energy, and although omega-6 fats are essential, the modern Western diet contains far more omega-6 fatty acids than necessary, which is actually harmful to health. The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1 or less. However, the Western diet has a ratio between 10:1 and 50:1. Therefore, although omega-6 fats are essential in the right quantities, most people in the developed world should aim to reduce their omega-6 intake.
Omega 6s are commonly found in vegetable oils such as soy and corn, mayonnaise, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, and cashews.
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated, meaning they only have one double bond. It is located nine carbons from the omega end of the fatty acid molecule. Oleic acid is the most common omega-9 fatty acid and the most common monounsaturated fatty acid in the diet. Omega-9 fatty acids aren't strictly "essential," meaning they can be produced by the body. In fact, omega-9 fats are the most abundant fats in most cells in the body. However, consuming foods rich in omega-9 fatty acids instead of other types of fat may have a number of beneficial health effects.
One large study found that high-monounsaturated fat diets could reduce plasma triglycerides by 19% and "bad" very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol by 22% in patients with diabetes. Another study found that feeding mice diets high in monounsaturated fat improved insulin sensitivity and decreased inflammation.
Omega 9s are commonly found in hempseeds, avocado, hemp oil, olive oil, almonds, cashews, walnuts and peanuts.
Having the right balance of omegas 3, 6, and 9 are necessary for many functions in the body. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) are needed by the body for a variety of functions. Omega-3 Fatty Acids nourish your skin, are important for radiance and add softness to your complexion. Omega-6 Fatty Acids are the building blocks of cell membranes, and help prevent skin dryness to maintain healthy and hydrated skin. Omega-9 Fatty acids have been shown to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and therefore help eliminate plaque build-up in the arteries, which can cause heart attack and stroke.
Best Vitamins for Skin Acne
While all of the vitamins and nutrients mentioned above are beneficial for skin health, several of them stand out as being especially beneficial for treating or reducing skin acne.
B3 (Niacin) treats a variety of skin conditions and irritations, including acne, and is a true skin conditioning powerhouse.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) preserves moisture in the skin, which improves skin elasticity and contributes to a fuller, more hydrated looking face. Since hydrated skin is also more resilient, B5 can help prevent acne and reduce signs of aging, too.
B7 (Biotin) is needed for the metabolism of fatty acids and protects cells from damage and water loss, helping to keep your skin moist and plump. B7 is one of the best vitamins for skin as it also fights inflammation and protects against acne.
Lactoferrin also known as lactotransferrin, is a multifunctional protein of the transferrin family that promotes the growth of selected probiotic strains. It is great for skin acne as it helps to clear the lymphatic system, a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
Best Vitamins for Aging Skin
To reduce skin aging, one must ensure they are providing the body the nutrients that it needs to produce collagen, as the body naturally produces its own collagen, but requires specific nutrients to do so. After the age of 30, our body’s natural collagen production slows down. However, if we consume the proper doses of the essential nutrients needed for building collagen, we can support our body in its natural production of collagen. Collagen production depends upon:
It is also important to avoid free radical damage and to support the elimination of free radicals through the consumption of antioxidant-rich nutrients and foods. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are especially beneficial for this purpose.
Best Vitamins for Dry Skin
While dry skin may be reduced with topical creams and moisturizers, there are also certain nutrients that help to reduce dryness and preserve moisture in the skin.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) preserves moisture in the skin, which improves skin elasticity and contributes to a fuller, more hydrated looking face.
B6 (Pyridoxine) helps to regulate mood and sleep by aiding the body in producing serotonin (the “happy hormone”), melatonin (the sleep hormone), and norepinephrine (a stress hormone), among others. Both stress and inadequate sleep raise inflammation in the body, reduce cell regeneration, and contribute to dryness — all factors that lead to breakouts and premature aging.
We at Zuma have created two topical skin creams specifically for moisturizing dry skin and improving overall skin health. Our Glow & Protect Day Cream is packed with healing and protecting nutrients—one of the key ingredients being DMAE, an amazing nutrient that may extend the life of cells and inhibit the cross-linking of proteins, giving your skin a tone and firm appearance. DMAE may also act in place of melanin adding increased protection from UV and UVA rays.
Our Moisturize & Repair Night Cream is a rejuvenating and antioxidant-rich cream that features an emollient delivery system that delivers cellular nourishing nutrients deep into the dermis. This moisturizer hydrates and nourishes the dermis while boosting skin luminosity, giving you a younger and rejuvenated look after a restful night’s sleep.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and the one that is in most direct contact with our external environment. Therefore, the health of our skin is very important. While topical applications are very nourishing to the skin, healthy skin is largely dependent on what we ingest internally.
Skin health, appearance and tone are directly correlated to the nutrients that we consume, and are dependent upon the nutrients that build collagen and fat in the body. These nutrients, when consumed in the right doses in bio-available forms, lead to healthy, vibrant, and beautiful skin.
As the skin is constantly replacing itself, we also need to be consuming these essential nutrients regularly in our diet. If you want to properly care for your skin, and want to have skin that not only looks healthy, but actually feels healthy, then makes sure you are receiving these essential nutrients in your diet.