What are the best vitamins for skin?

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Research suggests that certain vitamins may play a key role in skin health. In many cases, these vitamins are most effective when a person applies them directly to the skin. Following a healthy, balanced diet free of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can improve skin health by improving overall health.

Skincare and supplement makers are quick to claim that the right vitamin can revolutionize skin health, fight aging, and cure acne.

Vitamins are not revolutionary, however. They are of natural origin substances that the human body needs to function normally.

So, the main way vitamins affect skin health is to ensure that the body remains healthy overall.

Many multivitamins contain 100% or more of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Other good sources of vitamin A include carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and eggs.

Retinoids, including retinol, tretinoin, isotretinoin, and similar chemicals, are manufactured forms of vitamin A.

These products are available in creams and serums to be applied directly to the skin. Numerous studies support the benefits of retinoids for skin health.

Retinoids increase the rate of cell renewal. It can improve skin texture and tone, exfoliate dull, lifeless skin, fight acne, and slow the signs of aging.

A 2015 study found that retinol and retinoic acid increased skin thickness over 4 weeks. Retinoids also increased collagen gene expression. After 12 weeks, study participants had visible reductions in wrinkles.

Retinoids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. For this reason, it is essential to wear sunscreen while using retinoids and for several weeks afterwards. Retinoids can also be drying, so people should use a quality moisturizer and start slowly.

Try applying retinoids once or twice a week before bed, then gradually increase the frequency of use to once a day.

Several B-complex vitamins can improve skin health. Water-soluble vitamins are readily available in supplement form, including supplements containing all 12 B-complex vitamins.

Research on the role of vitamin B-complex supplements is promising, though inconclusive. A study 2018 found that vitamin B can help the body produce healthy new skin cells.

Not all research has found such benefits, although many studies suggest that B-complex vitamins are most effective when people apply them directly to the skin.

Vitamin B-3, or niacinamide, can help certain signs of skin aging. Some studies suggest it may help reduce the appearance of age spots and other forms of skin discoloration. Some women report improved skin and hair when taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid.

Folic acid may also improve the signs of skin aging, according to a 2011 study. Researchers found that a cream containing folic acid and creatine supported collagen gene expression and collagen fiber density. Collagen tends to decrease with age, causing wrinkles and saggy skin.

Vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid, can help with both acne and aging skin. A randomized control A 2014 trial found that people who took a B-5 dietary supplement for 12 weeks saw significant reductions in acne and skin inflammation.

One 2010 study examined the effects of a skin cream containing vitamins E, B-5, and B-3. The cream improved skin tone and texture in 6 weeks. It has also helped with age spots and hyperpigmentation.

Some Food Sources B-complex vitamins include meat, eggs, seafood, nuts, and seeds.

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A person can take multivitamins to ensure that their vitamin C intake is adequate.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means it can reverse free radical-induced oxidative damage.

Most research suggests that oxidative damage plays an important role in aging, including skin aging.

In theory, this could mean that vitamin C supplements could improve skin health and slow the process of skin aging. Search for supporting this claim varies, yet.

Most studies have found little benefit associated with vitamin C, despite a 2010 study suggests that vitamin C may slow sun-related skin aging.

There’s no harm in trying to get more vitamin C. Most multivitamins contain vitamin C, and it’s also readily available in many citrus fruits as well as most vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower and squash.

Topical application of vitamin C directly on the skin can improve elasticity, helping skin look younger and brighter. Vitamin C serums can also boost collagen production, fighting the harmful effects of the sun.

Vitamin C could also be an effective skin moisturizer. A 2012 study found that formulas containing vitamin C improved both skin hydration and smoothness for at least 3 hours after application.

Vitamin D supports skin cell metabolism, helping skin to grow and repair itself. Thus, insufficient levels of vitamin D can trigger skin problems. Beneficial sources of vitamin D include fortified products such as milk and cereal, as well as salmon, swordfish and tuna.

Vitamin D can also help with chronic inflammation. Inflammation can lead to skin irritation, certain types of acne and eczema. In fact, a 2010 study found that using a cream containing vitamins D and E could help with atopic dermatitis.

Like vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that can slow aging caused by free radicals.

Preliminary research suggests that vitamin E supplements may slow skin aging, but the research is inconclusive. Seeds, nuts, spinach, mangoes and corn are rich in vitamin E.

Many skin care products contain vitamin E. It is a popular remedy for scars. However, research on vitamin E’s ability to reduce the appearance of scars has come to conflicting conclusions.

A 2015 review found that vitamin E prevented scarring in some studies, but in other studies vitamin E either did not work or worsened scarring.

Also a A 2010 study found that applying a topical vitamin D and vitamin E cream could help treat atopic dermatitis.

Some research suggests that vitamin E can help wound healing, especially in combination with vitamin C and zinc. It can also help treat acne and bedsores.

Many vitamins can improve skin health, especially in people with vitamin deficiencies. Malnutrition can cause a range of skin problems, so eating a varied, nutrient-dense diet remains one of the best things a person can do for skin health.

People should be careful not to over-supplement with vitamins, as an excess of certain vitamins can cause health problems.

People concerned about specific skin conditions should choose vitamins based on their needs. Not all vitamins are suitable for all skin conditions, and the wrong combination can even make some problems worse. For example, using too many products containing vitamin A can dry out and irritate the skin.

To help you choose the right skin care products and follow a skin-healthy diet, consult a dermatologist.

Some of the products listed in this article are available for purchase online.

Patricia J. Callender