“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~ Confucius
There are many definitions of beauty, but what this article will deal with is the beauty that comes from the optimum health of one’s skin. Indeed, skin health determines beauty. We all want the best complexion, free of wrinkles and blemishes, and I believe that is something that can be optimized from the inside out.
The good news is that anyone with a healthy diet and some strategically chosen nutritional supplements can optimize the strength and beautiful appearance of their skin. Of course, there are also some excellent natural cosmetic lotions, creams, and treatments that are helpful in the enhancement of skin health. But the body’s internal state of illness or well-being will ultimately be displayed on the skin regardless of any efforts to camouflage or cover it up.
In previous issues of Vitality magazine, I have written about how to control inflammation naturally, which works to not only prevent and reverse chronic disease, but also plays a key role in the enhancement of skin health. Following an anti-inflammatory diet, optimizing the balance of friendly bacteria in your intestines, improving bowel elimination, and taking strategically chosen supplements can go a long way towards stimulating the growth of your best possible skin and hair. There are, however, many other nutrients involved in optimizing skin health and these are discussed in the paragraphs that follow. All are available at your local health food stores and no prescription is needed.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” ~ John Keats, Endymion: A Poetic Romance
- Peptan (4000 – 8000 mg daily) – is a brand of hydrolyzed collagen protein, something that is most important for the health of the skin, muscles, cartilage, and bones. Collagen makes up 70 per cent of the protein of skin and it tends to become deficient in advancing years. Maintaining high amounts of it are most essential for preserving the youthful appearance of skin. Collagen is a key factor in preserving the cohesion, elasticity, and regeneration of healthy skin. Various spas and clinics will actually inject collagen directly into skin for its beauty effects, but one can also swallow it for similar results.
The best source for Peptan is fish. This protein contains 18 amino acids, including eight out of nine essential amino acids (mostly glycine, proline and hydroxyproline). This particular protein composition cannot be found from other protein sources. Supplementing with Peptan makes the skin appear younger by improving skin moisture, smoothness, and suppleness. It both prevents and treats deep wrinkles.
- MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane, 500 mg or more daily) – is well-known for its ability to improve arthritis, but it also has many benefits for skin health. MSM is an organic sulfur compound found in many foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. This is completely different from Sulfa drugs so, if you are allergic to Sulfa, you can still use MSM without concerns. It has a hydrating and smoothing effect on the skin. Mature skin that has lost its elasticity will most likely benefit greatly from nourishment with MSM. This compound can also thicken hair so it may help those with thinning hair. Another benefit from MSM supplementation is its ability to improve the absorption of other key nutrients, especially trace minerals.
- L-Cysteine (500 mg or more daily) – is a high sulfur-containing amino acid found in large amounts from animal sources. A while ago I wrote about N-Acetyl-Cysteine (N-A-C) in a column in Vitality. This amino acid has numerous benefits as an antioxidant and is converted to glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Glutathione has been used by some clinics intravenously to rid the body of age spots and lighten the colour of skin. You can achieve the same glutathione benefits just by supplementing with N-A-C.
- BIOTIN (5000 mcg. daily) – is one of the B complex vitamins known for its ability to enhance the health of hair, skin, and nails. It can be found in large amounts in eggs, liver, avocados, yeast, and Ezekiel bread. Biotin is an important nutrient for those suffering from hair loss and nail problems of any kind. High dose supplementation (30 mg) has recently been shown to reverse some of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
- BETA-CAROTENE (750 mcg or more daily) – prevents skin damage from sun exposure. Sun damaged skin can also be treated and repaired by beta-carotene consumption. Beta-carotene is found in carrots, green vegetables, and numerous fruits. You could call beta-carotene a natural sunscreen that you can swallow. Over the years, many sun sensitive individuals who are patients of mine have been able to enjoy the benefits of sunshine by using beta-carotene supplements in high amounts during summertime.
- B-COMPLEX VITAMINS (50 – 100 mg daily) – have long been known to enhance the beauty of the skin. Topical 4 percent niacinamide, for example, can clear up age (liver) spots on aging skin. High dose, orally taken, niacinamide also works well in the long-term treatment of osteoarthritis.
- ZINC (15 or more mg daily) – is tremendously important for skin healing. Topically, as well as internally, zinc can heal cuts, scrapes, infections, burns, and numerous acute and chronic skin conditions. White spots and horizontal ridges on the nails could be signs of zinc deficiency. Food sources of zinc include high-protein foods (especially oysters), as well as seeds and nuts.
- SELENIUM (100 mcg daily) – This trace mineral is especially important for elasticity, and it also helps to prevent cancer. An excellent source is Brazil nuts. Eat at least two nuts daily unless you supplement with selenium capsules. Topically, selenium is anti-fungal and can be applied and rubbed into nails to treat fungal-infected toenails. Selenium is the active ingredient in Selsun shampoo, which is used to treat dandruff (a fungal infection).
(Editor’s note: Some people have severe allergies to Brazil nuts, so be sure to get tested before using them.)
- SILICA (100 mg or more daily) – is especially important for strengthening all connective tissue as well as skin, hair, nails, ligaments, joints and bones (especially good for bone density). Food sources include horsetail herb tea, cucumber, asparagus, strawberries, celery, and rhubarb.
- VITAMIN C (1000 mg or more daily) – is known as the anti-scurvy vitamin because it helps to heal all connective tissue, including the skin. We all need more than we think because, unlike most mammals, we cannot manufacture it from glucose whenever we are injured or under severe stress. Along with B-complex vitamins, vitamin C is our best defence against skin damage. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that inactivates skin damaging free radicals caused by UV radiation and toxic chemicals. Best sources are citrus fruits and most vegetables (especially peppers and tomatoes).
- VITAMIN E (100 IU or more daily) is another free radical scavenger, preventing and healing skin damage from any cause. For topical use, it is a common part of most beauty creams and lotions. For internal use, it’s best to use a vitamin E complex (full spectrum of vitamin E with mixed tocopherols), as opposed to just d-alpha tocopherol, to get the full effects of this antioxidant.
- HYALURONIC ACID (20 mg or more) is a connective tissue optimizer. Used topically, it can help to clear up skin wrinkles. Taken internally, it has been used as an arthritis remedy.
Taking so many supplements may be a challenge for most people so, thankfully there are companies that have manufactured products that will have all these skin health enhancing products all rolled up in one powdered nutritional supplement. Look for these at your local health food store.