While it is important to understand the myriad skin conditions resulting from genetic inheritance or UV ray damage, I’m sure many more readers are interested in how to improve the quality of their skin. The skin is, after all, the primary layer of defense against infection as well as the outer layer of our appearance. Recent studies have examined different minerals and vitamins that are useful for improving skin quality, and in this article, we will take a brief look at each.
The essential vitamins: Yes, vitamins are more than just pills your parents made you for breakfast. Vitamins C,E,A,K, and B complex have all be shown to improve skin quality.1 Vitamin C and E demonstrate photoprotection (protection from UV radiation) properties when used topically (2). What, then are the benefits of other vitamins? The report “Vitamins and photaging: Do Scientific data support their use” by Jenny Kim M.D. evaluated the use of several vitamins topically and orally for skin protection.
Vitamin A: Retinols and carotenoids are the two forms of vitamin A that actively protect the skin from UV damage (2). Carotenoids are found in fruits and vegetables while carotenoids can be found is eggs, milk and the liver. In Dr. Kim’s study, the application of carotenoid-derivative creams (0.025-0.05 percent tretinoin cream, 0.1 percent isotretinoin cream, etc.) were shown to reduce fine wrinkles, improve skin texture, and other conditions caused by aging and sun exposure (2). Retinoids, while commonly found in over-the-counter medications, have shown no significant effect on improving photoaged skin. The variation in retinoids means that not all may be effective and discretion should be used with products containing retinoids. Still, some benefit (even if not well documented) has been seen with the use of topical retinoids.
Vitamin B3: There are eight water-soluble Vitamin B complexes, which have already demonstrated blood cholesterol reducing properties. In Dr. Kim’s study, application of niacinamide (topical vitamin B3) was applied in a study of 50 Caucasian women twice daily for 12 weeks. The effects of the study showed reduction in redness, wrinkles, skin yellowing, and hyperpigmentation (2). While not definitive, the effect of the study is promising.
Both Vitamin B3 complexes and Vitamin A complexes can be found in over-the-counter medications for skin improvement. Besides the benefits listed here, they are also useful vitamins for improving skin elasticity and general skin health.