We all know the chief commandments of clear, radiant skin: Drink plenty of water, nip those cigarette butts in the bud, eat well, avoid alcohol, sleep like a queen, and follow a gentle, consistent skin-cleansing routine.
But say we do all that and still our skin is lacking. Beyond the basics, what more can we do to get our glow on?
And are vitamins and supplements really the beauty boosters they claim to be?
First, let’s take a look at the role that vitamins play in our bodies. All critical functions—from digestion and cognitive performance to immunity and detoxification—rely on essential nutrients. Consider them the building blocks of every single activity that occurs internally.
A dearth of Vitamin D in our diets, for example, results in fatigue, depression, and achy bones, while the American Society of Hematology reports that an iron deficiency decreases the proper flow of oxygen in our tissues, thereby leading to irregular heartbeat, weakness, and anemia. And when our internal organs aren’t operating optimally due to vitamin insufficiencies, it’s deeply felt—and visibly apparent.
“Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to acne to aging, are the manifestations of your body’s internal needs, including its nutritional needs,” says Dr. Georgiana Donadio, the Founder and Director of the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston.
Ever wonder why skimping on salads leaves you with sallow skin? Or why a brunch comprised of champagne and croissants bloats not just your belly but also the fragile skin around your eyes? Or why three days of subsisting on caffeine while chaining yourself to your desk results in lackluster hair and a dull, darkened complexion? If eyes are the windows to our souls, then skin is the mirror of our interior health.
Yet even those of us who adhere to the tenets of skincare, smart health, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein are at a risk of losing our youthful glows if we’re not careful. Why? Environmental assaults—smoke, sun exposure, pollution, even the level of water in the air—are unavoidable, just as dietary deficiencies, despite our best intentions, are inevitable. The Founder and Director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute Dr. Julian Whitaker notes that, due to soil quality, processing and storage, and cooking, it is “extremely difficult to get optimal levels of key nutrients from diet alone, which is why you need vitamins and supplements for health.”
Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas backs up these claims, stating, “Vitamins are crucial to maintaining the proper structure of the skin. Vitamin deficiencies cause redness, flaking, and a breakdown of the skin barrier or a decrease in collagen production.”
What’s more, no matter how saintly our eating habits might be, “the body delivers only a certain percentage of vitamins to your skin, no matter how much you ingest,” says Dr. Mary Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine.
From Vitamin A to C to Zinc, certain nutrients are critical to the attainment and maintenance of dewy, supple skin.
The question is: Which pills should you pop? Here’s how to get savvy about your supplements:
Ace a flawless complexion with a Vitamin A supplement? You bet. Considered the Benjamin Button of skincare supplements, Vitamin A—often marketed as Retinol—turns back time by protecting “the skin against photoaging by fortifying each cell against damage by exposure,” says the perennially-youthful Dr. Oz.
Consider baring it all by boosting your intake of Biotin. Part of the Vitamin B family, biotin, Dr. Josh Axe reports, is vital to a healthy metabolism, as it plays a pivotal role in the efficiency with which we break down fats, carbohydrates, and protein—and effectual absorption and distribution of these acids is an elemental part of enviable, glossy skin.
Vitamin C isn’t just for staving off colds in the dead of winter: It, too, alleviates the signs of photoaging while aiding in skin’s elasticity through its collagen-boosting powers. Paired with Vitamin E, C does double duty, providing four times more protection against free radicals when the two are used together.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to get your D on. Primarily acknowledged for the significance it has on bone health, recent research demonstrates the critical position it also has in terms of tissue repair. Insufficient in the “sunshine vitamin” and it will show, revealing itself in sagging skin, pronounced lines, and dryness.
Look fabulous with fish oil. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil supplements lend themselves to luminous skin. “Taking any kind of fish oil is like putting oil in your engine to run smoothly,” says skin care specialist Ildi Pekar. It’s “great for your heart and health but especially your skin”—keeping acne at bay and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Similarly, selenium is key to supple skin. While a trace mineral, there’s nothing insignificant about it. It safeguards the skin against sun damage—thereby diminishing the outward signs of aging—due to its antioxidant effects, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports.
And get zealous about zinc: As Dr. Weil points out, “Vitamin Z” acts as a collagen booster and effectively locks moisture in and keeps pathogens out, resulting in firmer, healthier, and softer skin.
Sound like a good amount to gulp? No doubt it is—and this is just the start of the skintrition list. But keep in mind that many of these vitamins and minerals are found not just in food, but also in quality topical treatments.
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University concurs, stating that
“Concentrations of nutrients in the skin may be comparable to that achieved through oral ingestion” but “topical application may be a more efficient, targeted method for supplying nutrients to the skin, especially to the epidermis.”
So when you reach for that bottle of multivitamins—after you’ve had your smoothie or tangerine—be sure to follow it with a cream that replicates the rewards of nature’s essential nutrients. Eavara’s Organic Age Defying Moisturizer was designed with your interior health in mind, boasting a list of powerful antioxidants that would make your mother smile and your dermatologist proud. Blending the finest organic oils with vitamin-rich botanicals, it nourishes and protects—so that the healthiest version of you can shine through.