Photo from WebMD.com
The human skin is the largest organ in the body. Most people take for granted the fact that it's one of the first lines of defense that the body uses to protect itself. Everyday, the skin protects us from environmental dangers such as pollution or harmful microbes in the air. As such, we need to take care of it as part of our immune system, rather than a mere tool of beauty or measure of age. That said, can we take vitamins to nourish our skin, just as we take vitamins to nourish our internal organs?
Dr. Charity Valdez, dermatologist at Valdez M.D. Aesthetic Center, shares her expertise with Smart Parenting. She states, “Our skin [is the] external reflection on what is going on internally in our body. What may be lacking or excessive are all reflected in the condition and appearance of the skin.” Dryness, oiliness, and redness, for example, are all signals of a deficiency or toxicity of certain nutrients or chemicals within the system. Dr. Valdez says that vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are all very important for improving and maintaining the health and appearance of the skin.
Alphabet Soup for the Skin
According to Dr. Valdez, Vitamins A, B complex, C, E and K are particularly important among all the vitamins needed for skin health. She lists some of their effects and recommended use:
• Vitamin A: age-fighter. Vitamin A, particularly retinoids, are needed for maintenance and tissue repair. It's used for the reduction of wrinkles, fine lines and acne. When properly used, it can reverse skin damage brought about by the aging process and sun damage.
• Vitamin B complex (specifically biotin and niacin). This is the basic framework of skin, nails and hair cells. The different forms of Vitamin B are responsible for the production of ceramides and fatty acids-- fatty molecules that are needed to function as the skin's protective barrier. Vitamin B also has anti-inflammatory effects.
• Vitamin C: super antioxidants. Vitamin C counters the effects of sun damage by smoothening & firming up skin. It also helps fade out hyperpigmentations (darkening of an area on the skin or nails, compared to surrounding skin).
• Vitamin E - powerful antioxidant with the most moisturizing effect. Vitamin E helps reduce damage brought about by free radicals and sun damage from prolonged exposure. Studies show that dosage should be limited to 400 IU's (international units).
• Vitamin K - very important in blood clotting. Vitamin K is often used to address dark, undereye circles. Typically, the main cause of dark under eye circles is seepage of blood to the skin due to the rupture of fragile capillaries. The blood clotting mechanism of Vitamin K will prevent and improve this after several topical applications.
• Other minerals and antioxidants: The following nutrients are also beneficial to the skin: Alpha lipoic acid, hyaluronic acid, essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6), selenium, zinc, copper.
The Best Beauty Regimen: A Healthy Lifestyle
There are several factors that contribute to the health of the skin. Dr. Valdez states that a combination of balanced nutrition, good lifestyle, proper dietary supplement and the right topical regimen, can benefit you and take your skin's health to its optimal levels.
When choosing products for a beauty regimen, it helps to be a smart consumer. Whether you're looking for oral supplements, topical lotions, creams, or serum, Dr. Valdez recommends that you look for the following:
• BFAD or FDA certificates with appropriate pharmacology assay
• Appropriate Label of contents, especially the active ingredients and dosages.
• Sterile packaging
• Laboratory where it was manufactured.
If the product in question fails to meet any of those criteria, you're probably better off not taking the chance. Ask a trusted dermatologist before taking on any new skin regimens, as some skin disorders may point to an underlying problem within the system that may require medical attention from another specialist.
Special thanks to:
Dr. Charity Valdez, M.D.
Valdez M.D. Aesthetic Center
G/F Elizabeth Hall Bldg., Katipunan Ave, Quezon City