Your skin is an organ – the largest in the body. It is your body’s first line of defence against bacteria, allergens and other pathogens. But when your skin gets damaged, it can make you vulnerable and susceptible to catching common illnesses. This is why it is so important to support and maintain healthy skin.
Vitamins are essential when it comes to maintaining and supporting your skin cells. They provide much needed nourishment to the rest of your body, and prevent your skin from deteriorating; even reducing the symptoms of skin conditions such as acne, rosacea or eczema. If you are lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, this will be reflected in the condition of your skin.
The good news: There is help out there in the form of vitamins and minerals; some of which can be very effective at revitalising your skin.
If your vitamin A levels are up to scratch from the foods you eat, adding more probably won't do much more for your skin. That said, if those levels drop even a little below normal, you're likely to see some skin-related symptoms, including a dry, flaky complexion. That's because vitamin A is necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue.
Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant that can prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores. This makes it especially useful at treating skin conditions such as acne, because it promotes the growth of new skin cells and reduces the likelihood of spores and pimples developing on the surface of your skin.
Vitamin A also has anti-inflammatory properties, allowing it to ease swelling and relieve any distensions of the skin.
There are a number of other benefits that vitamin A can bring to your skin. It can influence the development of collagen, a protein that supports your skin by improving its elasticity and durability, strengthening your skin cells and making skin appear smoother and firmer.
It is not advisable to take vitamin A as a supplement if you are pregnant. This is because too much vitamin A can potentially harm your unborn baby. This includes any other sources of vitamin A that you might ingest during the day from certain food products.
Here are the best B vitamins to consider when trying to improve the condition of your skin:
- B3: Vitamin B3 contains anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful in the treatment of acne. It can also inhibit the formation of sebum, again reducing the possibility of acne or bacterial infections
- B5: B5 can act as a humectant, meaning that it can retain water and keep your skin hydrated, decreasing your chances of developing dry, flaky skin
- B6: B6 can inhibit the formation of sebum, limiting the oil on the surface of our skin and reducing acne symptoms
- B12: People who are deficient in B12, such as sufferers of anaemia or thyroid conditions often find that their skin becomes pale or discoloured. This is because vitamin B12 is important when it comes to skin pigmentation, making it useful for keeping your skin looking bright and healthy. It also heals your skin too, although a recent report indicated that too much B12 can cause acne.
Vitamin C helps to keep your skin looking firmer and free of wrinkles by promoting the synthesising of the collagen protein.
As an anti-oxidant, vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and can even relieve the swelling in the blood vessels, which can ease skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.
It can also be considered a de-pigmenting agent, protecting our skin against the damaging effects of UV light. It is also recommended for patients of cellulitis to rejuvenate the impaired skin cells.
Vitamin C supplements can be taken if you feel that you are not getting an adequate supply from your diet, although you should be careful if you are on medication to thin your blood and speak to your doctor about the possible ramifications.
Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ vitamin D has been linked to a variety of skin conditions, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema, with lowered levels of the nutrient often exacerbating symptoms or increasing your risk of contracting the skin complaint.
Acne is another skin condition that can be associated with vitamin D deficiency.
If you lack vitamin D, it can place your immune system under stress prompting a reaction from our sebaceous glands which may start to produce more sebum, making our skin oilier and worsening any existing acne symptoms. When your immune system is weakened, it also makes it easier for you to contract a bacterial infection, again affecting your symptoms of acne.
Vitamin E is often found in food sources such as avocado, sunflower seeds or almonds.
In study conducted by the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Germany, it was suggested that Vitamin E can protect the skin against oxidative stress, including the harsh effects of UV light and photoaging.
This makes it very effective against skin conditions such as sunburn as it can decrease the healing time of cells and protect the cell membranes from damage.
Vitamin K has a close co-dependant relationship with Vitamin D, so much so that a deficiency in one vitamin will often prevent the other from functioning properly. This is why it is essential to maintain our levels of vitamin K, so that vitamin D can continue to do its job properly.
The vitamin is also essential in sealing calcium into your bones, preventing health concerns such as osteoporosis and some cardiovascular diseases.
A deficiency of vitamin K can also sometimes causing skin pigmentation under the eyes, with dark circles often forming.
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