Vitamins: Are You Getting Enough To Help Your Skin?

Vitamins: Are You Getting Enough To Help Your Skin?

Growing up in school, it was drilled into our heads that we needed to eat well in order to get enough vitamins and minerals to sustain our bodies. Most of us just nodded and smiled and took note that we probably should think about eating a banana or apple or something tomorrow. VitaminsForYourSkin-Problems Proper, balanced nutrition is absolutely essential to our health, well-being and future. Without it, we invite a whole host of troubles, from thyroid malfunction to gastrointestinal disorders and muscle wasting. Ya' got that, right? But did you know that nutrition plays a key role in the health and function of your skin? In fact, problems with our diet often show up in our skin, hair, and nails before we even see any evidence elsewhere. There are 13 vitamins that are considered essential. They're required for normal body function and can't be synthesized by your body at all, or not in amounts adequate for your health. That means, they must be obtained from your diet. Nine of those are necessary for your skin! If you drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes a lot of variety in plant and animal sources, chances are you're getting what you need. If your idea of a healthy meal consists of nachos, wings and ice cream, you may have cause for concern. Vegetarians are at risk for imbalances in their vitamins, since many of these are obtained from animal sources. Let's take a look at vitamins pertinent to skin health, where you can find them, and the recommended daily intake. {Dietary intakes listed are recommendations for adult women expressed in milligrams (mg), micrograms (mcg), or international units (IU)}

Vitamin A (retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid. Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A, as needed)

  • Helps skin rebuild, instrumental in healing scrapes, wounds, and damage
  • Anti-aging, combating lines, wrinkles, and dull skin by building collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin
  • Fades hyperpigmentation
  • Important for psoriasis sufferers, as it regulates tissue growth
  • Fights acne, topically
  • Antioxidant, scavenging for damaging free radicals
  • Get It From: beef, liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, butter, cheddar and swiss cheese, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes
  • You need: 700mcg (or 2,333 IU) Many people actually get too much vitamin A from food and supplements.
  • Is topical effective? Yes


Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

  • Essential to collagen production
  • Antioxidant preventing aging changes
  • Fades brown spots
  • Enhances effectiveness of sunscreens applied to skin by decreasing cell damage (especially when combined topically with vitamin E)
  • Helps heal damaged skin
  • Repair and prevent dry skin
  • Get It From: fruits and fruit juices (especially citrus), potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, brussels sprouts
  • You need: 75 mg. Smokers add 35 mg
  • Is topical effective? Yes

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

  • Instrumental to overall skin health and wellness.
  • Upkeep of hair follicles
  • Contributes to maintenance of normal skin
  • Antioxidant
  • Get It From: milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, meats, green leafy vegetables, whole and enriched grains and cereals
  • You need: 1.1 mg (most Americans get enough)
  • Is topical effective? Yes

Vitamin B3 (Niacin, nicotinic acid)

  • Essential for healthy skin
  • Helps skin retain moisture
  • Anti-inflammatory properties soothe dry, irritated skin
  • Can improve flushing and blushing of rosacea
  • Can work as lightening agent to even blotchy skin tone
  • Get It From: meat, poultry, fish, fortified and whole grains, mushrooms, potatoes, peanut butter
  • You need: 14mg (occurs naturally in food and can be made from the amino acid, tryptophan with the help of B6)
  • Is topical affective? Yes

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid, Panthenol)

  • Helps to make lipids (fats), which are an important component of a healthy skin barrier functioning, protecting against water loss
  • Captures moisture from air and helps skin retain it
  • Can help reduce itching
  • Get It From: wide variety of foods, including chicken, egg yolk, whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms, avocados, tomato products
  • You need: 5mg
  • Is topical effective? Yes


Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)

  • Antioxidant (nicknamed "the protector"), particularly when applied before and after sun exposure, preventing dark spots and wrinkles
  • Protects cell membranes from damage
  • Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage, helping skin retain its natural moisturizers
  • Fights acne
  • Get It From: wide variety of foods, including vegetable oils, salad dressings, and margarines made with vegetable oils, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts
  • You need: 15mg (about 22 IU from natural sources and/or 33 IU from synthetic vitamin E)
  • Is topical effective? Yes, though effects are lessened by sun, so recommendations are to receive enough through your diet


  • Helps make and breakdown some fatty acids
  • Forms the basis of skin, nail, and hair cells
  • Deficiency could lead to dermatitis (itchy, scaly skin reaction) or hair loss
  • Get It From: many foods, including whole grains, organ meats, egg yolks, soybeans, and fish
  • You need: 30 mcg (some is made by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, though how much is absorbed isn't known)
  • Is topical effective? No

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

  • Necessary for healthy skin, and hair
  • Help the body metabolize fats and protein, maintaining balance
  • Get It From: pork chops, brown rice, ham, soymilk, watermelons, acorn squash (most nutritious foods have some)
  • You need: 1.1 mg (are depleted quickly after drinking alcohol and while under stress, or exercising frequently)
  • Is topical effective? No

Vitamin K (Phylloquinone, Menadione)

  • Helps to lighten under-eye circles by controlling blood clotting
  • Essential for healing wounds and bruises, speeding up skin healing
  • Helps reduce swelling
  • Lightens melanin
  • Get It From: cabbage, liver, eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, kale, collards, other green vegetables
  • You need: 90 mcg (Intestinal bacteria make a form of vitamin K that accounts for half of your requirements. People taking an anticoagulant must keep vitamin K intake consistent)
  • Is topical effective? Yes

Vitamin D (Calciferol)

  • Plays a role in fighting infections, so deficiency has been linked to acne
  • Plays important role in skin tone
  • May help treat psoriasis, reducing inflammation and irritation
  • Get It From: fortified milk or margarine, fortified cereals, fatty fish
  • You need: 15 mcg (600 IU) (Many people don't get enough. Cholesterol converts to vitamin D when sunlight is absorbed by the skin, so people in northern climates or those that don't spend time in the sun don't get enough naturally)
  • Is topical effective? Yes

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxamine)

  • Necessary for healthy skin, and hair
  • Help the body metabolize fats and protein, maintaining balance
  • Helps reduce excess sebum (oil) production on skin, so can improve adult seborrheic dermatitis
  • Get It From: meat, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu and other soy products, potatoes, noncitrus fruits like bananas and watermelons
  • You need: 1.3-1.5 mg (most people don't get enough, are depleted quickly after drinking alcohol and while under stress, or exercising frequently)
  • Is topical effective? Yes


  • Plays a crucial role in metabolizing and transporting fats, so is essential to skin cell membranes
  • Get It From: many foods, especially milk, eggs, liver, salmon, and peanuts
  • You need: 425 mg
  • Is topical effective? No


Folic Acid

  • Vital for new cell creating
  • Improves skin firmness by boosting collagen synthesis, particularly when combined with creatine
  • Get It From: fortified grains and cereals, asparagus, okra, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, legumes like black-eyed peas and chickpeas, orange juice, tomato juice
  • You need: 400 mcg (many people don't get enough)
  • Is topical effective? Yes