As the largest organ in the human body, the skin does a lot. Most importantly it's a barrier, keeping germs and debris out while protecting what's within. Since our skin works so hard to care for us, why not do our best to care for it?
A diet of foods rich in vitamins and minerals goes a long way toward this goal -- and the five supplements on our list are a great start to maintain and improve your skin health.
• Vitamin A: The first on our list is vitamin A, a common vitamin found in a variety of foods like eggs, grains, liver and milk. It not only helps the skin to repair itself, but vitamin A can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, it can help decrease acne and chronic dry skin. Many people get enough vitamin A in their everyday diets, but for those with certain dietary restrictions, taking a vitamin A supplement could help. As for all supplements, make sure to consider the daily recommended amount, taking into consideration what you may already be receiving from food sources. For adults, it's 700 micrograms of vitamin A for women and 900 for men. For children, daily allowances range from 300 to 600 micrograms depending on age [source: WebMD].
• Vitamin C: Next up is vitamin C, another vitamin that helps the skin repair itself. It also reduces the effects of sun damage on skin. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, most notably citrus fruits, apples, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli and sweet potatoes. For those interested in supplementing their diet with additional vitamin C, the recommended daily allowance is between 40and 90 milligrams a day, depending on age and gender [source: WebMD]. Also, vitamin C plays a crucial role in the body's production of collagen, a protein that helps skin cells keep their firm shape [source: Bouchez].
• Vitamin E: Vitamin E serves a variety of roles in helping skin, from reducing sun damage to fighting wrinkles and keeping skin smooth. It's often found in lotions and other products as a featured ingredient. Again, most people consume enough vitamin E in their regular diet, but oral supplements are available for those who may not get enough. However, as with every supplement, consult your doctor first, because vitamin E can have negative interactions with certain medications [source: WebMD].
• Fish oil: Another popular supplement with many uses is fish oil, which comes in different types of pills. As far as your skin is concerned, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and other natural foods is a great for skin. It helps keep the epidermis, your top-most layer of skin, strong and firm [source: WebMD].
• Selenium: In addition to vitamins, minerals play an important part in overall skin health. Selenium is once such mineral found in trace amounts in the body. You need only a small amount of selenium daily, and the typical diet should provide what's needed. To supplement your diet with selenium-rich foods, considered adding whole nuts, fish and poultry to the menu [source: WebMD].
For more on how to keep your skin in great shape, see the links on the next page.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "What Is an Antioxidant?" Sept. 14, 2006. (May 24, 2012) www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6792&terms=antioxidants
- Bouchez, Colette. "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out." MedicineNet.com. March 2005. (May 24, 2012) www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50505
- WebMD. "Selenium." (May 24, 2012) www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/supplement-guide-selenium
- WebMD. "Vitamin A (Retinoid)." (May 24, 2012) www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/supplement-guide-vitamin-a
- WebMD. "Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)" (May 24, 2012) www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/supplement-guide-vitamin-c
- WebMD. "Vitamin E." (May 24, 2012) www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/supplement-guide-vitamin-e
- WebMD. "Vitamins for Healthy Skin" (May 24, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/skin-nutrition