There was a time when the air was much cleaner, the sun’s rays were gentler, and the food was healthier. Today's generation, however, is exposed to a far more toxic world.
“That’s why we’re more [vulnerable] to a lot of sickness that are related to the sun and [pollution, which causes free radicals],” says Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo of the AiveeTeo M.D Anti-Aging Institute.
It doesn't help that we consume a lot of fast food or processed food, either. And while getting our vitamins solely from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables is ideal, complementing with additional sources, whether through topical products or oral supplements, can also be effective.
“[With our lifestyles,] it’s all the more important for us to get enough of the nutrients that we need to combat the harmful toxins that can wreak havoc on our overall health, and affect our skin, too,” says Dr. Teo.
Not sure which you need for specific concerns? We’ve rounded up the health staples that can do wonders for your beauty.
B Vitamins: SKIN, NAIL, AND HAIR STRENGTHENER Topically: The B vitamins, ranging from B1 to B12, and collectively called vitamin B complex, offer varying beauty benefits. A popular example is vitamin B3 or niacin, found in anti-aging products, which helps reduce moisture loss and maintains skin’s firmness and plumpness. Meanwhile, vitamin B7 or biotin, which is now being used in hair treatments especially for older women suffering from thinning hair, is known to improve the condition of the hair, scalp, and nails.
Orally: Though deficiencies of these B vitamins have been linked to skin dryness, premature aging, hair loss, and weak nails, B complex “supplements are not routinely given,” says Dr. Teo, as it’s still best to get them from natural sources like high-protein foods and leafy greens.
Vitamin E: THE DRYNESS FIGHTER Topically: A popular antioxidant, vitamin E is incorporated in many beauty creams and oils that promise anti-aging and moisturizing benefits, as well as the reduction of stretch marks and scars. Vitamin E oils are also effective treatments for dry and brittle nails, and can be used to deep condition your locks and nourish your scalp.
Orally: While natural dietary sources of vitamin E such as whole grains and fatty fish are common, it’s also widely available as a supplement and is often marketed to improve beauty at a cellular level. There’s truth to this, too: Since more vitamin E is absorbed by your cells, skin cell turnover is enhanced and you’re afforded better damage protection. Nonetheless, Dr. Teo says it’s not for everyone, so be sure to consult your derma first. There are cases when too much vitamin E, which keeps skin moisturized by regulating oil production, can be counter-productive -- especially for those with oily skin. As a result, “some women break out,”says Dr. Melanie A. Manlongat, a dermatologist at Lifescience Center for Wellness and Preventative Medicine.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Vitamin A: THE ACNE AND WRINKLE FIGHTER Topically: Known for its ability to speed up the turnover of skin cells, vitamin A can be considered a mainstay in anti-aging creams and is best applied topically, says Dr. Teo. Retinoids or vitamin A derivatives help prevent wrinkles and fine lines, tighten pores, and also treat pimples. The downside is that some forms of vitamin A, like retinoic acid, can cause irritation on sensitive skin. “What we [usually] recommend is retinol [found in a lot of skincare products] because it’s the milder form,” she says.
Orally: Naturally found in green, leafy veggies and yellow-orange fruits, vitamin A -- which is vital for healthy eyes, bones, and teeth -- is also a powerful antioxidant, meaning it fights against skin-damaging free radicals caused by pollution and the sun. Getting your fix through your daily multivitamin should be enough, so there’s really no need to seek a separate oral supplement -- that is, unless you have moderate to severe acne. “[The oral form] is only given to patients with cystic acne and is by prescription only,” says Dr. Teo, who notes that it’s not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
damage like broken collagen and pigmentation,” says Dr. Manlongat. Bonus: It also has a natural skin brightening effect.
Orally: Popularly found in citrus fruits and veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, vitamin C or ascorbic acid not only serves as a crucial component of our immune system, but it also supports the production and maintenance of collagen for stronger and firmer skin. While it’s easy to get natural vitamin C from natural sources, Dr. Teo says that taking additional supplements is a good way to boost it. “Normally, 500 to 1,000 milligrams a day is good,” she says.
Vitamin D: SKIN HEALER Topically: Not a common ingredient in beauty products, “topical vitamin D is very popular for treating certain skin problems like psoriasis,” says Dr. Teo, who notes that it’s one of the easiest vitamins to get naturally: through sun exposure. One of its forms, Vitamin D3, has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it effective in treating skin damage like stretch marks as well as burns and injuries.
Orally: Since it is also a potent antioxidant (and protects against osteoporosis, too), you can definitely benefit from vitamin D supplements, especially if you don’t get much sunshine. The U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a daily 400 IU supplement, but this can vary depending on your diet and daily sun exposure. Rich natural sources include milk, yogurt, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Take note of these other health-slash-beauty boosters, too! •IRON Strengthens nails, prevents acne breakout •ZINC Improves collagen production, keeps cuticles healthy •VITAMIN K Helps diminish dark circles • COLLAGEN Plumps up skin, protects from wrinkles •GLUTATHIONE Protects against free radicals, lightens skin
This article first appeared in the January-February 2014 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines.