Beauty Nutrients – Sorting Fact from Fiction by Dr Carrie Ruxton

Beauty Nutrients - Sorting Fact from Fiction by Dr Carrie Ruxton

Social media influencers often promote vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for skin health and beauty. This has led to concerns that we could be filling up on the wrong nutrients as well as lathering too many dietetic-enriched creams on our faces. In this editorial from the Health & Food Supplement’s Information Service – we sort fact from fiction when it comes to beauty nutrients.

Skin Needs
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service says, “The skin is an effective barrier against the outside world – and no wonder given that it’s the first line of our immune defence. That’s why nutrients are poorly absorbed through the skin. There is a lack of evidence proving that nutrients in creams significantly affect blood levels.

“In addition, the body’s ability to take up these nutrients depends heavily on the chemical structure of the nutrient, levels provided and the person’s own nutrient status. Research in the journal Nutrients stated that: ‘if plasma levels are saturated, then it appears that topical application does not increase skin vitamin C content’¹. If people want to boost their nutrient levels, the most effective ways are through the diet or by taking a good quality multivitamin and multimineral supplement”.

B vitamins
“Vitamin B2, niacin and biotin – all from the B complex group of nutrients – are all known to help support normal skin. They have an authorised claim when consumed in amounts that exceed 15% of the Nutrient Reference Value. Unfortunately, the same regulations don’t apply to face creams and other topical beauty products.”

Dr Carrie Ruxton adds, “Almost a fifth of teenagers, and over one in ten adult women, have vitamin B2 intakes which fall below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake – that’s the level below which deficiencies are likely to occur. Good sources of B vitamins include meat, eggs, beans, cereals, nuts and legumes.”

A plate of fresh fish on a table next to vegetables

Vitamin A
“This vitamin also has an authorised health claim for supporting normal skin health. Good sources are red/orange/yellow fruits and vegetables, dairy foods, meat and oily fish. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey reports that almost a fifth of teenagers and one in ten adults don’t get enough vitamin A in the diet.”

Vitamin C
“This water-soluble nutrient is found in fruits and vegetables. However, two-thirds of adults and nearly 90% of teenagers don’t eat the recommended 5 daily servings, which is bad news not just for our skin health, but our overall wellbeing.”

Dr Ruxton continues, “Concerns about low vitamin C intakes were raised by a research review published in Nutrients², which reported that: ‘vitamin C deficiency is likely to be common globally’ even in richer countries. Worryingly, the UK recommendation for vitamin C is set at 40 mg per day – only enough to offset clinical deficiency – whereas in France, it is set at an optimal 110 mg per day. Vitamin C is needed for normal collagen, which is why it helps fight the effects of ageing on the skin. We can’t take our eye off the ball where vitamin C is concerned and should make 5-a-day a priority.”

Omega-3 fats
“While there is no official skin health claim for omega-3 fatty acids, there are a large number of clinical trials using fish oils for psoriasis and other skin conditions. This is because fish oils have recognised anti-inflammatory effects.

“The main sources of omega-3 fats are oily fish, nuts and seeds, yet few people eat these regularly. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey reports that adults eat a third of a portion of oily fish a week instead of the recommended one portion of oily fish a week. It’s far worse in teenagers who eat eight servings of oily fish a year!”

Dr Ruxton says, “Oily fish intakes are far too low, which means most of us are missing out on the important nutrients it provides. A fish oil supplement provides a simple, acceptable means to bridge the nutrition gap when people can’t or won’t eat a weekly serving of salmon, mackerel or tuna.”

Found in foods like fish, dairy products, meat, nuts and wholegrain breakfast cereals, zinc has an authorised health claim to support normal skin. Again, these are healthy foods that too few people eat on a regular basis, so intakes are too low for just under a fifth of teenagers and 6% of adults.

Dr Ruxton says, “Preferences for more processed foods have resulted in people lacking wholegrains, while supermarket data show that biscuits have replaced dairy foods for some families. Zinc helps our skin heal itself and has immune properties.”

Healthy foods to help skin

Last Word
All over-the-counter dietary supplements sold in the UK are regulated and have to stay within official safe levels. Dr Carrie Ruxton adds, “By following the instructions on the label, we can ensure we get the right amounts of vitamins, minerals and fish oils from our dietary supplements.

Far too many of us are not eating our five fruits and vegetables a day, which means we are missing out on vital nutrients to support our health and wellness, and that includes our largest organ, the skin. For those consumers finding it hard to ensure a diet is packed with five fruits and vegetables a day, then bridge these dietary gaps with a multivitamin and multimineral.

For those of us not keen on fish and not eating two portions of fish a week, one of which needs to be oily, then opt for a fish oil or omega-3 supplement. If you have any worries about the right nutrient for you, ask your local pharmacist for advice.”


Beauty Nutrients - Sorting Fact from Fiction by Dr Carrie Ruxton 2

Editorial Team

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