By CHERYL M. BURGESS, MD
Special to the Blade
The latest medical research supports the theory that vitamin supplements can improve the skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ and requires nourishment as with all bodily organs. The World Health Organization has documented systemic and cutaneous effects of malnutrition on the body and has recommended minimum daily requirements of vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and minerals for optimal function of the body.
Vitamins C and E are two of the most beneficial anti-oxidants for the body and skin. Oxidative processes cause our skin to age and anti-oxidants prevent the oxidizing effect in aging tissue. Eating fresh vegetables, cereal and nuts will provide sources of vitamin C and E. Although studies have shown that the majority of oral vitamin supplements are more beneficial than topical preparation, topical vitamin C and E are among the few that are very effective topical agents for the skin.
Vitamin E can be an effective emollient and skin protectant. In addition to its anti-oxidative effects, vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid stimulates collagen production and inhibits the breakdown of collagen; it has chemical properties to lighten the skin; displays photo-protective properties and is anti-inflammatory in nature. When taken in combination, vitamin C and E provide double the anti-oxidative properties and therefore, are twice as effective.
Retinol, a topical source of vitamin A, is an extremely beneficial vitamin for problem or acne-prone skin and treating the signs of aging. Carrots, among other vegetables, are a high source of vitamin A. Clinical studies have shown that retinol is beneficial for treatment of fine lines, discoloration and rough skin texture.
Niacinomide (niacin-vitamin B3) is plentiful in meat, fish and wheat and is beneficial for dry skin and wound healing. It is also photo protective and prevents photo-aging. It is also used in dermatology for the treatment of acne and has properties that reduce oil production.
Ferrulic acid is an iron derivative with significant photo-protection properties. It is used in anti-aging serums. Zinc has natural antiseptic properties and is used in the treatment of bacterial and anti-inflammatory skin conditions.
Vitamin D is used to fortify milk and is found in large quantities in fish oil. Fish oil is an essential free fatty acid that improves circulation in the body and to the skin, hair, and nails.
The most prescribed anti-aging preparations are retinols (vitamin A) and vitamin C.