Vitamins and minerals are essential for our health. They are micronutrients and, except for Vitamin K, are not produced by our bodies. They are derived from the food we eat and drink and are required by the body to carry out various functions. Given that we need certain vitamins and minerals to achieve our optimal level of health, it’s important to include these nutrients in our diet whenever we can. It’s not just food that can give us these vital nutrients. Some can be synthesised from external factors such as the sun (Vitamin D), creams or supplements.
Your skin is your body’s largest and most visible organ; given this, it can be obvious when you have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These nutrients help break down food, which provides energy for cellular productivity, and cellular health leads to strong tissue. Strong tissue includes the skin.
Ideally, you will get enough vitamins and minerals from your diet and daily activities and meals. However, this is not always the case. This blog explores some of the key vitamins and minerals required for good health and how they can be obtained, whether it be through diets, creams and topicals, or supplements.
Helpful vitamins and minerals
You should always aim to get a sufficient amount of nutrients before resorting to supplements. You should keep in mind that most foods that provide us with essential nutrients also contain other things that are great for our bodies, such as fibre. So eating nutrient-rich food is generally very good for us.
When we eat nutrients, they get distributed to our cells. These build our bodily organs and fluids.
So, what are the helpful vitamins and minerals our bodies need?
Vitamin A is vital for your skin health, and both the dermis (deep layer) and the epidermis (surface layer) require exposure to Vitamin A for good skin health. As an antioxidant, it can provide some protection against the sun, but it should not be considered a substitute for sunscreen. When lacking vitamin A, your skin becomes susceptible to dryness, itchiness, and even bumps. Vitamin A also stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, helps with remodelling bone and maintaining healthy endothelial cells which line the body’s interior surfaces.
Vitamin A is found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy foods and green leafy vegetables – even cantaloupe.
There are eight different ‘B-Complex’ vitamins, which are all found in similar places. Getting enough Vitamin B is crucial, as it is required for the majority of our bodily functions as it helps our cells’ metabolism and just makes sure all our body’s cells are functioning properly. Some of its many benefits include assisting blood circulation and increasing UV protection. It is also crucial for our general skin health.
You can find Vitamin B in whole grains such as brown rice and barley, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, legumes, seeds and nuts, dark, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, avocados, and bananas – so a lot, really!
This is another important antioxidant, as it produces collagen and can potentially lower the chances of skin cancer. At the very least, it has been proven to reduce UV damage. It is found in the dermis and epidermis layers of the skin, and is a important part of keeping your skin healthy. Healthy amounts of Vitamin C can reduce signs of ageing in some cases, as it can reduce wrinkles.
There are large quantities of vitamins in citrus fruits, or even things like spinach and broccoli. Many people use Vitamin C supplements, but it is always best to talk to a doctor about the best options. It is important to use this vitamin in moderation, as excessive Vitamin C intake can cause things like diarrhoea or kidney stones.
Vitamin D is produced in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It helps us to absorb a number of minerals, including calcium. Laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation. A recent study showed that Vitamin D can also help with negative emotions and depression.
Whilst it is broadly recommended to take supplements only when required, Vitamin D is one such example where supplements are worth consideration, given the need to expose your skin to the sun to gain the vitamin naturally. That said, it is always advisable to take the right precautions when exposing your skin to the sun.
Sufficient Vitamin K assists the body with blood flow, which helps with the prevention and healing of wounds and bruises. It can also help with stretch marks and scars. It is found in a lot of different topical creams, which are often applied by doctors to patients after surgery. Vitamin K can be found in foods like kale, lettuce, cabbage and green beans. It is also the only Vitamin we naturally produce in our bodies and it is made by bacteria living in the intestine.
Zinc is an important mineral that affects the functionality of many of the body’s systems. This includes the immune system, thyroid function and the sense of taste or smell. Zinc is found throughout your body, mainly in your muscle and bone. As explained by Health Direct, your body cannot make zinc on its own, and it must therefore be ingested from your food.
When your body is low on zinc, you are at an increased risk of infection for things like pneumonia, and the ability of your skin to heal from wounds is decreased. In addition, a lack of zinc can lead to skin rashes. A zinc deficiency can also lead to a loss of appetite, eye problems and even hair loss.
Selenium can be very good for you, as it can help boost an antioxidant known as glutathione, which can reduce acne. Generally speaking, people who smoke or drink excessively risk selenium deficiency. Meats like salmon, lamb and turkey are all good sources of selenium.
Magnesium functions as an anti-inflammatory and is very important for skin health. A lack of magnesium can lead to premature ageing in the skin. Lots of different nuts can increase your magnesium levels, such as pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts. Additionally, eating lentils, spinach and brown rice can help your magnesium levels.
When it comes to vitamin deficiency, it is advisable to talk to a health professional about your best options. They can advise the best places to get the vitamins you need, and which ones you need to take in moderation.
And remember, vegetables are a fabulous source of vitamins, and a balanced diet is a much more ideal outcome than taking a lot of supplements.
What is collagen, and do I need some?
Collagen is a protein that makes up the structure of our cells. Despite there being 28 different types of collagen, one identified as collagen type 1 makes up around 90% of the collagen in the human body, according to Naomi, Ridzuan, and Bahari.
Collagen is extremely important, as it is found in our bones, skin, cartilage, tendon and skin, and helps with tissue repair and our immune response.
Whilst our bodies naturally produce collagen, you can also get it through your diet. Collagen can be found in chicken skin and fish. However, some of us don’t produce enough collagen, especially as we age. As such, sometimes supplements can be a great option. However, you want to take the right supplements.
Collagen can be purchased in power, liquid or capsule form and added to drinks or soft food. Additionally, there are collagen shakes thought by some to be beneficial to collagen levels. However, you should always consult a health professional about these, as some of them are ineffective and have bad side effects.
Blood tests are a great way of finding what vitamins you are deficient in. If you suspect you are running low on some vitamins or minerals, it is a good idea to talk to a health professional about getting some blood tests.
Vitamins are extremely important for our health. We can provide nutrients to our bodies in a number of different ways. These can be through our diet applying creams and topicals, or even by taking vitamin supplements. A number of our ENRICH skin care range contains vitamins for your skin health. See them in our ENRICH Clinic shop. For more information on skin health, you can check out our other blogs, including If you only do 5 things for your skin health, pick these.