Though you might use all the right cleansers, toners, serums, essences, exfoliators, and moisturizers, you won’t have truly good skin if you’re missing all the vitamins and minerals that keep it healthy in the first place.
When skin is nourished, it’ll look all the more beautiful and glowing. To get the best skin ever, here are some key vitamins you should add to your beauty regimen.
For many of these vitamins, you can both take them as an oral supplement (or get them from the food you eat) or put them directly on your skin. Which is better?
Though topical application immediately and directly affects the skin, an oral supplement impacts the health of your whole body. Instead of letting your skin hog all the vitamin C, your body gets to disperse the vitamin to wherever it’s needed.
Though taking vitamins orally may not make an immediate change in your skin’s appearance, it will definitely improve the overall quality of your health and skin in the long run.
That doesn’t mean that topical application is bad. It can be another great way to keep your skin nourished. But for full-body health (that also really boosts skin into #nofilter territory), oral intake of these vitamins is the way to go.
1. Vitamin C
First up, a well-known powerhouse. Vitamin C does two great things for your skin: protects against UV rays and helps synthesize collagen. Sadly, that doesn’t mean you can go eat an orange and forgo sunscreen.
You still need sunscreen for full UV protection. However, vitamin C can help repair sun damage and add an extra layer of protection.
As for collagen, this is really important. Collagen is what keeps your skin firm and bouncy. As we age, collagen production naturally goes down, so our skin starts to sag down with it.
Since vitamin C aids collagen production, that means it keeps your skin looking firm and lifted — basically it’s the water bra of skin nutrients.
According to a review from the University of Otago, the efficacy of topical vitamin C is unclear. In some studies, it seemed to help, in others it didn’t, or it only worked when paired with vitamin E and some kind of delivery oil.
But ingesting vitamin C works great. Thankfully, you can get vitamin C from all kinds of fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits, cherries, berries, broccoli, and leafy greens are especially high in the vitamin).
You can also take a vitamin C supplement, but getting your C through food is preferred. Plus, you get all the fiber, nutrients, and other goodies that whole fruits and vegetables offer when you get your dose of vitamin C the old-fashioned way.
2. Vitamin D
Paraphrasing the words of Run DMC, vitamin D is tricky. That song may not have been about vitamin D’s relationship to good skin, but it sums up our point nicely.
Unlike other vitamins, in addition to oral consumption, we get vitamin D from exposing our skin to the sun. Cool, so just sit out in the sun to get your vitamins, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
With sun exposure also comes a heavy dose of UV rays that can cause damage, wrinkles, and even cancer. Yet, vitamin D has been shown to help reduce skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis.
And vitamin D deficiency is on the rise, affecting over a billion people worldwide. Basically, the sun will give your skin a dose of a vital vitamin and also cause horrible damage. All together now: It’s TRICKAY.
So, how do you get that D? Since vitamin D is important in skin (and full-body) health, it’s best to take a supplement. You can get a decent dose from foods like salmon, canned tuna, and sardines, but if you aren’t a fan of fish, a supplement is definitely your best option.
3. Vitamin E
With similar UV fighting abilities as vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the skin from sun damage.
Vitamin E is transported to the skin via sebum, i.e., the stuff that comes out of your pores to protect your skin — but also makes you oily. In this case, oily skin is great! The vitamin E in sebum helps reduce damage from the sun and keeps your skin fresh and healthy.
Unfortunately, there are mixed results with topical application of vitamin E. When the vitamin is exposed to the sun, it produces free radicals. Those free radicals can then cause a bit of damage to the skin.
Now, this damage is pretty mild, but it’s best to either apply topical vitamin E when you’re not going out in the sun (like a p.m. face mask) or get your E through food.
Nuts, seeds, and goose meat are especially high in the vitamin. If you’re not planning on a Dickensian-style roast goose any time soon, avocado and salmon will also do the trick.
4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is mostly known for its blood coagulation skills. When you cut yourself shaving and you don’t bleed all over the place, you can thank captain K.
There’s also some evidence that it helps heal wounds and lessens skin conditions like rosacea, spider veins, and stretch marks. Most people easily get enough vitamin K from their diet, but if you’d like a little boost, turn to leafy greens for the highest concentration of the vitamin.
5. B Vitamins
Some skin conditions might be a symptom of lacking a certain array of vitamins. B vitamin complex includes vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, biotin, folic acid, and B-12. Yes, there are some non-Bs in there, but who are we to argue with science?
Anyway, this B complex is responsible for key body functions like energy, metabolism, and brain function. When the Bs get low, you can get skin rashes, cracks by the mouth, dry lips, and a bunch of other non-skin related symptoms.
So, if you have a rash or dry, scaly skin (especially near the mouth), a B vitamin deficiency might be the answer.
B vitamins can also help with cell renewal. The easiest way to get your proper dose is to take a B Complex supplement. That way, you get all the Bs in one easy dose which helps your body function and your skin look its best.
Add another UV-fighter to the list: beta-carotene. Found fittingly enough in carrots, beta-carotene is another powerful antioxidant that can help keep sun damage away from your skin.
When you take beta-carotene, it may actually make you less sensitive to sunlight. Again, that doesn’t mean you can pop a pill and frolic in the sun for hours. Sunblock is still the best way to protect your skin. But, beta-carotene might give you some extra protection against harmful rays.
The best way to get beta-carotene is through carrots. Also, leafy greens, squash, and cantaloupe will do the trick. Usually, you can get enough beta-carotene through food, so supplementation isn’t really necessary, as long as you eat your veggies.
This is a little bit of a cheat because selenium is technically an essential mineral, not a vitamin, but it’s really good for skin which makes it worth mentioning.
Selenium is another powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage and helps reverse skin damage and slow the signs of aging.
It also aids thyroid function, which keeps your metabolism in tip-top shape, which in turn helps your body metabolize all these lovely vitamins that keep your skin looking great.
As with other vitamins, the best way to get your selenium is through food. The best sources for selenium are oysters, Brazil nuts, and halibut — though you can also get the mineral through sunflower seeds, chicken breast, and certain mushrooms.
The short version
- Good skin care isn’t just skin deep. The nutrients you get from food and supplements are just as important as the products you put on your face.
- Just remember to always consult your doctor before making major diet changes.
- And finally, since many supplements are unregulated/not FDA-approved, do your research before you start popping vitamins.