Our skin is not just our buffer to the outside world; it is also intimately connected to what goes on inside our bodies. Through the foods we eat, the environment we live in, the amount of exercise we get and how often we take time to relax, we are affecting the health and look of our skin. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the substances our body needs to thrive. Vitamins are one of these substances that can often be overlooked but are vital to our skin’s health.
Below, we go over why vitamins are important, which ones are essential for supporting your skin health and where you can find them in your supermarket.
What is a vitamin?
Vitamins are chemical compounds our body needs in limited quantities to function properly but cannot produce on its own. That means we must acquire these vitamins from external factors such as our diet and environment. There are 13 essential vitamins our body needs, split into two categories: fat and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in our body’s fatty tissues and liver and used when needed, while water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and are generally excreted with urination. This difference is important to note, especially when taking vitamin pills, as it influences the dose and frequency that is safe for our body. Each vitamin plays an important role in the body and vitamin deficiencies can cause health problems to occur.
While all vitamins influence your skin health, there are five, in particular, you should pay attention to if your skin is breaking out or feeling dull and unbalanced.
Vitamins for healthy skin
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin present in many foods. It plays a large role in our skin’s complexion by repairing skin cells, producing enzymes that stabilize the production of collagen and helping our skin stay moist. If you are low on vitamin A you may notice your skin becoming dry and flaky. Vitamin A also works as an antioxidant in your body, helping fight free radical damage.
Where you can get it: Look for orange fruits and vegetables to get the Vitamin A your body needs. Vitamin A can be found in cantaloupe, mangoes, squash, sweet potatoes and in liver and other green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex refers to the collection of eight B vitamins that are essential for many processes in our body. These water-soluble vitamins help our body make new cells, prevent early aging, regulate our mood and sleep patterns, and so much more. Working in harmony together in our body, they reap added benefits for our skin. The B vitamins have been shown to help hydrate our skin and form the basic structure of nails, skin and hair cells.
Where you can get it: Eat eggs, milk, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds to unlock the powers of Vitamin B complex in your body.
With the help of the citrus industry, the benefits of vitamin C have already been widely touted. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping protect our cells, strengthen our immune systems and prevent wrinkles and sun damage. It also helps our body produce collagen, the substance our skin needs to remain firm and supple.
Where you can get it: Eat citrus fruits, bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli to give your body the vitamin C it needs.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means your body stores it and uses it when needed. It protects your skin from free radicals and helps skin cells repair damage. While it is rare to have a vitamin E deficiency, it is unlikely to consume too much vitamin E as long as you are obtaining it from food sources.
Where you can get it: Nuts, healthy oils (sunflower, corn, safflower), dark green vegetables, and avocado are good sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E oil is also known to help reduce the appearance of scars when applied topically to the skin.
Vitamin K is key for healthy bones and blood clotting in our body. Its role in our circulatory health is connected to its reputation for reducing the appearance of dark under-eye circles and bruises on the skin. It is used to help the skin heal and reduce swelling. Recently, it is also being recognized for its potential to increase skin elasticity and prevent wrinkles.
Where you can get it: Vitamin K can be found in dark, leafy greens and vegetables, brussel sprouts and cabbage. Also, consider looking for a cream or serum containing the vitamin.
Not all vitamins are created equal
Unless our bodies have a deficiency in a particular vitamin, the best way to unlock the benefits of vitamins in our body is to eat them. When deciding if you’d like to add a supplement or vitamins in pill form to your regimen, it’s important to consult a doctor as vitamins can interfere with medications and proper doses vary based on the individual. It’s also important to note the distinction between whole food vitamins and synthetic vitamins. Vitamins that are derived from whole food, sustainably grown plant sources are generally more effective and beneficial than their chemically isolated counterparts.