Good skin starts from within. And even the best skincare routine cannot make up for a lack of essential nutrients.
To achieve your best skin possible, you have to be supporting your skin from every angle. This includes eating a healthy diet, staying active, reducing stress, wearing an SPF, and giving extra support with supplements, in addition to your stellar skincare routine.
Here, I've rounded up my personal favorite anti-aging supplements for skin, and overall wellness.
CENTELLA ASIATICA (GOTU KOLA)
This powerful botanical has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda for it's ability to support cognitive health. More recently, it has gotten attention for it's role in preventing skin aging. It is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C, niacin, amino acids, and numerous phytochemicals.
Studies have shown gotu kola to boost antioxidant activity, induce type 1 collagen synthesis (the most abundant form of collagen in our skin), increase wound healing, strengthen the skin, and boost circulation.
This impressive plant goes beyond memory and skin rejuvenation, though. The Indian Journal of Medicine calls gotu kola a "potential herbal cure-all." Numerous studies show gotu kola to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, antidepressant, and cardioprotective activity, among others.
Vitamin C gives our skin antioxidant protection, and is vital for collagen synthesis and stabilization. Vitamin C is transported to our skin cells via our blood vessels, and supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to increase the vitamin C content of our skin. Keeping our blood supply saturated with vitamin C will ensure our cells stay saturated as well, optimizing collagen synthesis.
Pollution and UV exposure, however, have been shown to deplete vitamin C levels in our epidermis (the outermost layer of our skin). Topical applications of vitamin C (like this one), give extra antioxidant protection to the epidermis, helping to combat these daily skin aggressors.
Lysine has been shown to speed wound healing and build collagen in the skin. It is an essential amino acid, meaning our body does not make it, and we need to obtain it from dietary sources.
Doctors do not recommend lysine supplements for children, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, or if you are taking calcium supplements, as lysine increases the absorption of calcium. In these cases, obtaining it from your diet is crucial. Some vegan food sources of lysine include spirulina, beans, avocado, fenugreek seed, mango, apricot, papaya, and lentils. While some non-vegan sources include red meat, chicken, fish, and dairy.
It should be noted that the amino acid arginine (it is semi-essential, meaning our body makes it) competes with lysine for absorption. Some foods higher in arginine than lysine include chocolate, peas, coconut, oats, whole wheat/white flour, gelatin, sesame seeds, soybeans, chicken liver, pumpkin seeds, and nuts. These foods do not need to be avoided, but instead, should be balanced with foods higher in lysine.
If taking a lysine supplement, it has been shown to be most beneficial if taken with water on an empty stomach.
Short for Methylsulfonylmethane, MSM is a sulfur containing compound found naturally in plants and mammals. It is commonly used for joint pain and inflammation. Recently, it has also been gaining attention for it's ability to support skin, hair, and nail health.
A study done in the International Journal For Vitamin and Nutrition Research shows impressive skin rejuvenation results. In the study, 63 participants ingested either 1g or 3g of MSM daily. Fine lines, wrinkles, elasticity, firmness, and skin hydration were evaluated with instrumental measurement and analysis, and expert clinical grading. After 16 weeks, the study showed "significant improvement from baseline in the severity of facial wrinkles, as well as improved skin firmness, elasticity and hydration." The higher dose of 3g showed more dramatic results, but both doses were effective in reducing the signs of skin aging.
It is also thought to strengthen keratin - the main protein present in our skin, hair, and nails. Keratin contains a sulfur-containing amino acid called cysteine, and MSM is thought to strengthen keratin by acting as a sulfur donor to cysteine.
It is recommended to start slow when starting new supplements. Start with small, daily doses, and work your way up to a full teaspoon after a couple weeks or so. Too much, too fast, may lead to nausea.
Silica is formed when the elements silicon and oxygen combine, which are the two most abundant elements on earth. The average human body holds approximately 7g of silica, making it the third most abundant element in the human body, next to iron and zinc. But it is probably most well known for being present in bamboo in high concentrations.
It is present in our bones, organs, hair, tendons, and collagen. Evidence shows that silica is essential for health. We start out with high levels of silica when we are young, and it gradually decreases as we age. This decline has a direct effect on loss of skin elasticity, and the formation of wrinkles, among other things.
Silica gets it's reputation for being an anti-aging supplement due to it's vital role in collagen synthesis and cell renewal. And when our collagen is damaged, by free-radicals, for example, silica is required for it's repair. Increased levels of silica results in an increase in collagen synthesis, elasticity, and ability to retain moisture in the skin.
Pronounced asta-zan-thin. It is a carotenoid derived from a red microalgae, and is responsible for giving salmon, flamingos, and crustaceans their pink hue. Astaxanthin is by far the most diverse anti-aging supplement I have come across. It has been shown to work in numerous ways to repair and protect our skin and body. Some of it's impressive benefits include:
- Neutralizes free radicals.
- Decreases inflammation.
- Protects our cells, and the DNA inside of them.
- Protects against UV induced skin damage.
- Improves blood flow.
- Improves issues with the eyes such as visual acuity, depth perception, eye strain, and dry eye.
- Decreases the depth of wrinkles, and improves skin elasticity.
- Increases skin's moisture levels.
- Improves cognitive function.
- Increases energy levels.
- Improves cardiovascular health.
- Omega-3: Well known for being crucially important for brain and heart health, and it's ability to fight inflammation. Omega-3 can further be broken down into DHA, EPA, and ALA. DHA and EPA are sourced from micro-algae, and the fish that eat the micro-algae. ALA is found in certain plant sources such as walnuts, chia seed, flaxseed, and hempseed. Our bodies convert a small amount of ALA into DHA and EPA.DHA is responsible for the health of cell membranes. It improves skin barrier function, sealing in moisture and keeping skin looking smooth and supple. I prefer my DHA to be sourced from algae, as opposed to fish, as many fish oils go rancid fairly quickly.
- Omega-6: Just like omega-3, omega-6 is crucially important for skin function and appearance. Supplementation with omega-6 has been shown to relieve symptoms of sensitive skin and inflammation.
- Omega-7: Present in certain fish, and oils, such as sea buckthorn oil. Omega-7 has been shown to protect the skin against oxidative damage, as well as increase collagen and elastin synthesis.
- Omega-9: This is a non-essential fat, meaning our body makes it. However, studies have shown multiple benefits to eating a diet rich in omega-9. Some of these benefits include increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased inflammation - both of which benefit the skin as well.
It is important for each omega to be present in the right ratio with one another. An imbalance of fatty acids may contribute to a number of health conditions. For this reason, I prefer to supplement with an omega blend, instead of just a single omega.
- Inhibition cellular senescence (cell death).
- Increased activity of antioxidants present within the body.
- In addition, the antioxidants present in reishi have been shown to specifically combat signs of skin aging.
- Speeds wound healing.
- The triterpenes specifically have been shown to improve the look of skin, boost circulation, and improve mental focus.
- Has been shown to protect the DNA within our cells from the oxidative damage that causes aging.
- Promotes liver cell regeneration and protects against liver toxicity.
- Modulates the immune system. Meaning it can adapt to the needs of your body and either boost, or suppress the immune system.
Reishi mushroom is bitter in taste, and is best taken in supplement form. You can find it as a tincture, or as a powder at most health food stores.
The safety of Reishi mushroom extracts for children, pregnant, breast feeding, or for use of liver disease have not been established.
Contains a polyphenol called EGCG, which is the major active compound of green tea. Some of the proven benefits of EGCG include:
- Potent antioxidant activity.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Protects DNA from UV induced damage.
A single cup of green tea typically contains about 50-100mg of EGCG. I prefer to drink green tea to get all of it's benefits, as opposed to taking EGCG in supplement form. The safety of EGCG supplements has not been established, and some research shows these supplements may lead to liver damage if taken in excess of 800mg/day.
Green tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine works in the brain to increase dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for emotional responses), has anti-anxiety effects, and reduces cortisol levels (our stress hormone).
Topical application of green tea offers protection from UVB damage. And good news for those with oily skin, it has been shown to reduce oil production by up to 50%. In fact, I credit green tea extract as one of the major factors in how I was able to turn my skin type from oily to normal (blog post coming soon on exactly what I did).
It should be noted that green tea is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as it may interfere with the absorption of folate.
Why I Don't Take Collagen Supplements
These have become very trendy lately. Collagen has been popping up in everything from coffee creamer to protein powders. However, many of the studies touting the benefits of collagen supplements have been funded by the companies who make them - which means the results could be biased. A little further research into the subject shows that giving your body the tools it needs (such as vitamin C, minerals, lysine, and other amino acids) to make it's own collagen, is much more effective.
Disclaminer: I am not a medical doctor. Please consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements. Some supplements may interfere with prescription medications.
While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained on this site is obtained from reliable sources, Sophia Dee Skincare is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.