Many of my patients ask me what supplements they should take for their skin. My initial response is that it’s more important to eat a well-balanced diet containing protein and antioxidants (along with specific foods based on my Feed Your Face principles). That said, there are a number of supplements that I believe in:
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for collagen formation. Your body needs vitamin C to produce strong collagen, the substance that gives skin its structure. Over time, and especially near menopause, skin gets thinner and loses collagen. By taking vitamin C (or eating foods that are high in vitamin C), you can help your body produce collagen more efficiently. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that fights environmental damage from pollution, cigarette smoke, and the sun's UV rays.
Turmeric is an important spice in Indian cooking. It comes from the root of a plant in the ginger family, and it gives curries and American mustard their yellow color. It contains a compound, curcumin, which has been shown to have antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. However, the most convincing studies of its efficacy have been on whole turmeric extract, not just curcumin. Some studies have shown that turmeric helps wound healing and inflammatory skin conditions. Other studies have shown that turmeric can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. While turmeric has been shown to be generally safe, it may interfere with one type of chemotherapy, and it should be avoided if you have gallstones.
Biotin, a form of vitamin B, has been shown to strengthen hair and heal brittle nails. One study found that 2.5 mg a day of biotin taken for two months helped heal dry, splitting nails in two-thirds of volunteers. Biotin supplements are widely available and show no evidence of toxicity. Biotin is naturally found in salmon, egg yolks, cabbage, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, broccoli, and whole grains. Many of my patients have been pleased with Viviscal supplements, which contain biotin, zinc, and iron.
Before starting any supplement, be sure to discuss it with your doctor, especially if you have any medical condition or you're taking any medications.