We’re all chasing that glow, aren’t we? And not just because we obsessively watch celebrity skincare routines. Our skin is our largest organ. It literally protects us from the outside world: think of it as a defensive barrier that protects our inner organs from foreign elements, trauma, bacteria and viruses. Our skin is also an indicator of our internal health. Dermatologists can use skin markers to diagnose all kinds of internal disorders. And like our grandmothers said: great skin really does start from within.
Apart from a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, there are certain supplements you can add to your diet (under the right guidance from your doctor!) that can help you achieve supple, glowing, healthy skin (and strong, shiny hair!).
Collagen: If supple skin is your goal, then collagen is what you need. Collagen is a protein found in the body. It’s perhaps the most abundant protein, making up 25%-30% of our body protein in the form of our nails, hair, connective tissues, bones… phew! When it comes to skin, collagen is what keeps our skin supple and bouncy. Collagen is naturally produced by our body, but as we age, collagen production slows down. So taking a supplement can help boost levels in your body as you get older. (Checkout: Collagen vs Collagen Builder)
Healthy fats - Omegas: Omega Fatty Acids are like moisturiser that you can drink. Really! Omegas are known as “healthy fats,” the kind you find in avocados, walnuts and fatty fish. They are important for a bunch of body functions, and one of those is building skin layers. Our skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. The outermost layer, the epidermis, uses fats to maintain healthy skin moisture and hydration. This preliminary study indicates that Omega-3s can help when taken regularly.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for your immunity, but also for tissue health, including eyes, skin and hair. It supports healthy skin repair by supporting the synthesis of collagen, which is a protein that gives our skin its elasticity. Vitamin A also helps in the production of of sebum, a natural oil that helps moisturise our skin and scalp.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and like Vitamin A, helps in the production of collagen, which helps keep our skin supple and bouncy. It also has antioxidant properties and can help protect our skin from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage our skin causing premature ageing, stress and dark spots.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a double-duty supplement: it’s a fat soluble vitamin that nourishes your skin, and it’s a powerful antioxidant that combats unstable molecules called free radicals that damage your skin and cause ageing. Its moisturising properties give you soft, supple skin and helps reduce the appearance of scars and promotes a clear complexion. It’s also good for your hair: Vitamin E can help boost blood circulation and deliver essential nutrients to the follicles.
Glutathione: Glutathione is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that help battle oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals, these pesky little molecules that damage your skin, causing as fine lines, wrinkles, a dull and uneven skin tone, dark spots, etc. So glutathione is a potent antioxidant that targets dark spots by reducing the production of melanin, the pigment that darkens our skin.
Hyaluronic Acid: You’ve probably seen the marketing jargon behind hyaluronic acid serums: how it’s capable of holding up to “100x its weight in water,” making it great for skin moisture. While those claims are just claims, here’s what we can tell you about it. Hyaluronic acid is a molecule in our body that’s found in our cartilage and helps maintain moisture and skin elasticity. It can be applied on your skin and taken as an oral supplement, and studies show that oral hyaluronic acid supplements support skin hydration, skin elasticity, and skin fullness and firmness.
Astaxanthin: It sounds like a chemical, but astaxanthin is a natural pigment that gives fish like shrimp and shellfish their intense reddish- pink colour. Studies have shown that astaxanthin can keep your skin hydrated and even out your skin tone, which helps with anti-ageing. Studies also indicate that astaxanthin can help combat the kind of oxidative stress that causes wrinkles.
Keratin: Your hair is basically a protein. And that protein is keratin! Keratins are proteins made from amino acids that help form your hair, skin, and nails and keep them strong and healthy. Your hair is made (almost) entirely of protein, so if you aren’t getting enough amino acids in your diet, a keratin supplement can help. But only after you check with a medical professional!
Biotin: Biotin or Vitamin B7 is essential for healthy hair, nails and skin. It’s a must-have for cell growth and for the proper metabolism of fats and proteins in the body. BUT. It’s not something you should take whenever you feel like it. Although biotin is required on a biological level for your hair, skin and nails, high doses are not advised, since there isn’t enough research to support it.
Depending on what your concern is - from acne to blemishes to hair breakage - you can zero in on a few key ingestibles that will target the problem. But remember - ONLY start on a supplement routine after you identify the problem and get the green signal from your doctor!