Radiant, glowing, youthful—these are words we wish to hear when someone describes our skin. Many of us are quick to point the finger at genetics when someone has a perfect complexion, but genetics play only a small role in how our skin looks throughout our lifetime.
External applications of creams, oils and serums are important to the health and vitality of our skin, but at least as important are internal influences and how they play a fundamental role in the health of our skin.
The long term effects of an inadequate diet, stress and environmental exposure will have a direct effect on the suppleness, elasticity and youthfulness of our skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ and is often the first level of defence from outside irritants such as UV light, free radicals and pollution.
Our skin also has a major role in detoxification. Besides protecting us externally, it also helps to eliminate bodily by-products and waste through sebaceous and sudoriferous
secretions. When you consider all that it does for us and how little we do for it, it is not surprising that our skin becomes tired, dull, congested and prematurely aged. We can combat many of these side effects by taking extra care in what we eat and in the supplements we take.
In 2010, according to Statistics Canada, almost 50% of Canadian women took supplements. For woman over the age of 50, this increased to 60%. Perhaps you are already taking supplements without being aware of the benefits they may have on your skin or perhaps you are considering starting a new supplement program. Let’s look at some of the supplements and complementary food sources that can have a direct impact on the health and beauty of your skin:
They are called “essential” fatty acids because our body cannot produce Omega-3 oils and they are vital to our health. The typical North American diet contains plenty of Omega-6 sources, so ideally look for an Omega-3 supplement that contains a higher ratio of 3 to 6.
Omega-3 EFA’s are fundamental to the body’s fight against inflammation, regulating sebaceous secretions, improving the skin’s radiance and minimizing fine lines. For skin that suffers from dryness or for any skin irritation such as eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, this EFA is a must. It is typically taken in either a liquid or capsule form. You can also get an added boost by adding these oils to your salad dressings, smoothies and fresh juices and by increasing your intake of cold water fish, raw nuts, extra virgin coconut oil, flax and chia seeds.
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
ALA is a super boost for aging skin. Enhancing cellular energy and with superior anti-oxidant properties, this supplement may revitalize and protect your skin from many of the harmful conditions we expose it to on a daily basis.
Consider pollution, UV light, smoke, alcohol, pesticides, trans fats, and yes, stress; we cannot avoid the irritants that create free radical damage within our skin, so it is imperative to combat this effect with an excellent anti-free radical source. The extra bonus compared to other antioxidants is that studies have shown that ALA can help regenerate other anti-oxidants, making the free radical protection within your body even more powerful. Only small amounts of ALA are found in sources such as red meat and Brewer’s yeast, so a supplement is the ideal form for this anti-oxidant.
Carotenoids are the pigment compounds found in nature that give colour and health boosting properties to fruits, vegetables, seafood, algae, etc. There are thousands of naturally occurring carotenoids, but astaxanthin has shown to be the powerhouse of the group. What separates astaxanthin from other antioxidants like Vitamins C and E is its ability to neutralize many forms of free radicals simultaneously. Depending on the antioxidant and the environment it is exposed to, they can often become pro-oxidant, becoming the free radical that it was meant to protect you from. Astaxanthin does not have this property, making it extremely versatile and effective. Taking a supplement of astaxanthin has also been shown to protect your skin from UV damage from the sun, helping to minimize age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
There are many benefits of astaxanthin for the health of your skin, including regulation of the skin’s moisture levels, improving smoothness and elasticity. Found in lobster, crab, shrimp, pacific salmon, rainbow trout and marine algae, it also supplies the pinkish hue to these foods and can be artificially manufactured to be added to farmed fish. It is important to know where the astaxanthin you are taking originates, since the synthetic form does not offer the health benefits of natural occurring astaxanthin.
One of the main factors contributing to your skin losing its radiance is the depletion of its cellular energy from age or exposure.
Co-enzyme Q-10 (CoQ10), also known as ubiquinone, naturally occurs in our cells but depletes over time, especially after the age of 40. This co-enzyme is essential for energy production within cells. It aids in cellular regeneration and rejuvenation, bringing back the skin’s radiance and youthfulness.
Small amounts of CoQ10 are found in sardines, salmon and raw nuts, but it can be difficult to absorb from food; supplementation is usually recommended to receive these benefits.
Whether you are interested in prevention or looking to recapture the “fountain of youth,” looking to nature to discover the incredible benefits that are available can be very rewarding. When starting any new supplement program, it is best to seek the recommendation of your health care practitioner to ensure the optimum treatment program.
Kim Slauenwhite is a holistic nutritional consultant based in Halifax, NS. An experienced trainer and passionate leader, Kim has been sharing her knowledge and experience by educating others within the health and wellness industry since 1991.