Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a naturally occuring substance in some foods, but it’s also produced in the human body. It contains vitamin-like chemicals popular as the primary antioxidant that protect the skin from inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals. It is known for its unique ability to exfoliate the skin and to get rid of dead cells, exposing the tighter, brighter and fairer skin underneath(1). It’s these properties that have made ALA popular in the production of skin whitening and lightening products.
Some of the main foods that contain alpha-lipoic acid include liver, yeast, spinach, potatoes, yeast, and broccoli (2).
Astaxanthin is the reddish pigment that is found in some seafood, and feathers of quails and flamingos. It belongs to a group of chemicals known as carotenoids and it causes the pink-red color in lobster, salmon, shrimp, trout, and other seafood (3). Good sources of Astaxanthin include crustaceans and marine algae.
In clinical trials, Astaxanthin has been shown to boost skin moisture levels, skin moisture retention, and elasticity. It promotes skin smoothness, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Carotenoids are known for their strong photo-protective properties and strong antioxidants that increase the skins’ UV blocking properties, and ability to combat effects of free radicals (4).
Beta-carotene is the yellow/orange pigment that is known as carotenoids (5). It gives fruits and vegetables their rich colors. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A which is needed for a healthy skin. Vitamin A protects the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals, and it’s effective in lowering the risk of developing skin cancer (6).
Good sources of beta-carotene include carrots, beef liver, turkey liver, mustard greens, squash, dried basil, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, kales, mangoes, papaya, and more (7). Vitamin A is sometimes used to treat skin disorders such as vitiligo and psoriasis. Some people who are prone to sunburns or those suffering from erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), can benefit from consumption of beta-carotene supplements (8,9,10).
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples especially the pineapple stem. It can be used in combination with other drugs to treat several skin conditions including acne and psoriasis, but it is very effective in reducing skin inflammation (4). In the body, bromelain is essential in aiding the removal of the dead, dry skin cells to reward one with soft, smooth skin. Bromelain supplement is particularly useful for people with blemished or dry skin (13).
Bromelain is extracted from the fruit or stem of the pineapple. You can get it in the form of a cream, capsule, powder, or tablet. Today, it is used as a diet supplement for inflammation, cancer, muscle soreness, nasal swelling, poor digestion, and osteoarthritis. When applied to the skin, bromelain is known to help skin repair from wounds and burns (13).
Burdock root is an underground tuber of the burdock plant that is used as a vegetable and medicinal herb. Burdock is scientifically known as Arctium lappa. Burdock contains some antioxidants that prevent skin eruptions, acne, and that help to fight scaly skin disorders such as dry scalp and psoriasis. Burdock is also popular for its ability to relieve skin inflammation and bruises (14).
Burdock is a good source of inulin which reduces blood sugar level, and cholesterol levels.
Biotin, also called vitamin H, B7, B8, biotin, W Factor or Coenzyme R, is one of the B complex vitamins that can benefit you inside out. It is abundant in the kidney, pancreas, liver, milk, and yeast (9). Like all other B complex vitamins, biotin is water-soluble (21).
Biotin exceeds its name by enhancing conversion of foods while making sure that the nervous system, eyes, skin, and hair remain healthy. It’s particularly effective in fighting skin dryness and irritation (22). Although most people do obtain sufficient amount of biotin from dietary sources, there is clinical evidence that supplementation can be extra advantageous to your overall health 23).
Coenzyme Q10 is an endogenous (produced in the body), fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound that is primarily stored in fat tissues in the human body. Coenzyme Q10 is also a powerful antioxidant. It is found in the skin epidermis where it acts, together with other enzymes and non-enzyme compounds, as first-line barrier to oxidation assault (14).
In essence, coenzyme Q10 protects your skin from photo-aging, boost collagen production, and it energizes your skin (19).
Alternative sources of Coenzyme Q10 include peanuts, whole grains, soy oil, mackerel, sardines, and other oily fish. In animals, it is highly concentrated in the heart, kidney, and liver (14).
Turmeric, scientifically called Curcuma longa, is used worldwide to spice up foods. Curcumin has been proven to exhibit antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-neoplastic, and antioxidant properties (14). Curcumin is also found in small amounts in Ginger (8).
Curcumin is popularly used to treat a vast range of dermatologic disorders. In scientific studies, it has been shown to statistically trigger a significant improvement in patients with psoriasis, skin cancer, and scleroderma (20).
Turmeric protects one’s skin by reducing inflammation and quenching the effects of free radicals through nuclear factor-KB inhibition. It has also been shown to trigger improved collagen deposition, wound healing time, and increased vascular and fibroblast in wounds, thereby enhancing wound healing (14).
Chromium Polynicotinate is a coordination complex of chromium and picolinic acid. Chromium is a certain type of metal that was discovered in the late 18th century in France. This metal was considered a nutrient until the 1960s, but scientists discovered that the body requires only a tiny bit of this metal to stay healthy and is now grouped as an essential trace metal. Nutritional supplement manufacturers understand that chromium (like most minerals) have a hard time passing through the intestinal walls (1), and therefore, such minerals/metals are normally combined with other substances to aid their absorption into the bloodstream.
This compound is essential in glucose metabolism and is said to be necessary for utilization of dietary sugars and carbohydrates (2). Research also associates chromium with longevity and improved cardiovascular health (2) attributable to its role in metabolizing fats, carbs, nutrients, as well as other nutrients. This essential trace metal is naturally present in various dietary sources such as whole grains, potatoes, vegetables, brewer’s yeast, and most kinds of meats.Benefits of Chromium Polynicotinate to the Skin
Since rapid changes in your blood sugar may lead to acne and other skin reactions, Chromium Polynicotinate is thought to help prevent or regulate acne and improve your skin health. Besides, the chromium is shown to improve a person’s immune system and slow the aging process (3).
Echinacea Purpurea (purple coneflower), is a medicinal herb with anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory properties. It has been scientifically shown to contain constituents that help protect the skin from oxidative stress while improving it’s moisture levels (14).
Echinacea Purpurea boosts the immune system including the anti-tumor cells and stimulates the growth of new tissues for healing wounds. Also, it helps to reduce inflammation in arthritis patients and other skin conditions.
Grapes are people’s favorite and their leaves and sap have been used for health purposes for centuries. Grape Seed Extract is a mixture of procyanidins and tannins that have anti-estrogenic effects (28).
Evidence shows that grape seed extract help reduce all forms of swelling that is caused by injury (29). Grapefruit extract is best known for its high level of antioxidants, which means it’s very effective in destroying free radicals, helping one to avoid certain chronic illnesses and premature aging.
Green tea extract contains catechins divided into four molecules with EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) being the most potent one (30). This molecule acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect the skin from ultraviolet damage. With ECCG, you get increased collagen content, reduced wrinkles, smoother skin, and a thicker and more elastic epidermis (31).
This supplement can be obtained through drinking green tea or as an alternative supplement that specifies the amount of EGCG per capsule.
Lutein is known as the eye vitamin. It is a carotenoid vitamin that is known to cure vision problems including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (32). It is a potent antioxidant that is found in vegetables and in the eyes, especially the retina, lens, and macula. This is the reason most doctors believe that Lutein plays a key role in maintaining a healthy vision.
Lutein, together with zeaxanthin, offer the needed support for the aging macula. Similarly, it’s one of the phytonutrients that protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation (33).
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in fruits, green plants, and vegetables (32). Lycopene has anti-inflammatory properties and it's a strong antioxidant. Some of the best sources of lycopene include tomatoes, papaya, and watermelons.
Research from various epidemiologic studies show that eating food rich in lycopene benefits your skin. Lycopene acts as an antioxidant and it’s a powerful free radical quencher, meaning it helps reduce skin damage (31).
Milk thistle is a unique flowering herb that contains several structural components among them silydianin, silybin, and silychristin. A lot of research has been conducted on these unique phytochemicals to identify their health properties, and Silymarin has been shown to be the most potent.
Polypodium leucotomos is a tropical fern from Central America and parts of South America. The herb is also commonly referred to as ‘Heliocare’ or ‘Fernblock’ and is normally marketed as a health supplement for sensitive skin. The reason why this herb is thought to be so effective is that it’s administered orally, and so it works from the inside out where applied topical products can’t reach (1). This plant is also thought to possess moderately potent protective properties against sun-induced skin damage, skin cancers, vitiligo, psoriasis, and eczema. Polypodium leucotomos may be an immune booster according to several studies. The herb has been used for more than two decades without any considerable side effects recorded. Polypodium leucotomos has not been tested in young kids, and breastfeeding or pregnant women and therefore precaution should be taken.
Polypodium Leucotomos Benefits to the Skin Polypodium leucotomos is well known for its potential to protect you against sun-induced skin damage such as sunburns and melanoma (2). But the herb may also have other skin benefits (such as cell regeneration and wound healing) because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Pomegranate, botanically known as Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing small tree or deciduous. When cut open, pomegranate fruit reveals the clusters of juice, gem-like seeds on the inside. The fruit has been used for thousands of years as a medicine. Studies suggest that pomegranate fruit juice contain more than 100 phytochemicals which gives it innumerable health benefits. For instance, according to National Health Society of the United Kingdom, the fruit is thought to be effective against inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers including prostate cancer (1). The fruit has abundant folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, and Vitamin A meaning that it may have anti-tumor, anti-viral, and anti-oxidant properties. Pomegranate fruit is also a good source of fiber and iron.Benefits of Pomegranate Fruit to the Skin
It is believed that pomegranate fruit possesses anti-aging properties and can, therefore, rejuvenate your skin both on the inside and out (2). The fruit may also strengthen the epidermis and can delay or reduce wrinkles.
Pantothenic Acid, commonly known as Vitamin B5, is a water-soluble nutrient that is part of the vitamin B family. The vitamins name comes from a Greek word ‘pantothen’ which means ‘from everywhere’ since the vitamin is almost found in every food component. Pantothenic Acid helps in breaking down fats and carbohydrates to help the body generate energy (1) and rebuild organs, muscles, and tissues. Pantothenic Acidmay also help in forming the red blood cells, sex and stress hormones, and synthesize cholesterol (2).
As with other B vitamins (such as biotin), Vitamin B5 can also support a healthy nervous system and adrenal function (3). Since this vitamin is water-soluble, it means the body cannot store it and is excreted in urine. Therefore, the vitamin must be restored in the body on a daily basis. The dietary sources of this vitamin include sweet potatoes, broccoli, avocados, mushrooms, legumes, yogurt, milk, egg yolk, chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, and animal kidney and liver.Benefits of Pantothenic Acidto the Skin
Together with other nutrients such as vitamin E and selenium, pantothenic acid is said to be particularly important in slowing aging as well as protecting the skin against environmental toxins, pollutants, and sun damage (4). According to a double-blind study, this vitamin may help in preventing and reducing acne (4), which is triggered by inflammation, oxidative stress, and overproduction of sebum.
Quercetin is a flavonoids found in many fruits, flowers, grains, and vegetables (34). Buckwheat tea is known to contain large amounts of quercetin, which explain why it is used for medical purposes.
Quercetin exhibits both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It neutralizes free radicals preventing premature aging and it's also effective against the damaging UV rays. This means that it can keep your skin looking younger and smoother for longer.
Sodium Selenate, a common form of selenium is found in trace quantities in plants, meat, seafood, and in supplements (35). It activates antioxidant enzymes, and it’s linked to an array of health benefits in the body. Researchers have shown that topical application of sodium selenate is 100% effective in lowering incidences of cellulitis in cancer patients (36).
Selenium helps fight cancer, diabetes, skin diseases, thyroid disease and it has been shown to lower the risk of HIV.
Silymarin contains three flavonoids, fatty acids, and Vitamin E. These elements offers additional antioxidant benefits that help protect the skin from damage. The fatty acids in Silymarin maintains the skin’s natural moisture while Vitamin E protects the skin from UV radiation (36).
Soy Isoflavones made up of two compounds called Daidzein and Genistein, fall under a group of chemicals called Bioflavonoids. Soy Isoflavones is derived from soy, and relative to its action in the body, it seems to imitate the hormone estrogen.
Soy Isoflavones have been linked with skin benefits and they improve the skin elasticity, collagen synthesis, increase tissue hydration, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. with reduction of breast cancer (37). Similarly, isoflavones act as powerful antioxidants that can reverse the appearance of the skin due to aging that may be caused by free radicals caused by UV radiation.
Genistein is the most abundant isoflavones found in the soy product. It resembles the human estrogen, and for this reason it’s classified as a phytoestrogen but it’s also an antioxidant (26).
Since it’s a phytoestrogen, Ginistein mimics estrogen, and for this reason, it can be used to remedy conditions triggered by declining or worsening level of estrogen such as osteoporosis.
Beta Carotene is a compound that gives orange and yellow fruits their color. It is also a major ingredient when coloring foods such as margarine (38). In our body, beta-carotene helps to convert Vitamin A (retinol) that is useful in providing a healthy skin and a strong immune system.
High quantities of Vitamin A can be toxic, but the body converts only the required amount of Vitamin A as it needs. It is used as an antioxidant to protect the body from damaging the free radical molecules and keep the skin firm, healthy and radiant.
Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B-2, is a type of a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it cannot be stored in the body (39). It needs to be consumed every day. Riboflavin in combination with other B vitamins helps to prevent riboflavin deficiency. It is a good for the skin since it prevents acne. It increases the mucus secretion of the skin and helps to clean up the skin pustules, whose blockage would lead to acne.Vitamin A (As Retinyl Acetate) Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that include retinoic acid, retinal, and retinol. Vitamin A is also a powerful antioxidant that plays a great role in boosting human health. Studies say that the vitamin may be helpful in maintaining healthy skin, neurological function, and healthy vision (1). Other studies also suggest that vitamin A may be responsible for facilitating cell differentiation, regulating gene regulation, building strong bones, and supporting immune function (2). There are two types of vitamin A retinoids and beta-carotene. Retinoids come from animal products such as liver, fish oils, eggs, and milk. beta-carotene. Beta-carotenes come from plants such as fruits, tomato products, orange and yellow vegetables, and leafy green vegetables. People get enough vitamin A from their daily diets, but a doctor might suggest its supplements to patients who are deficient. One can have vitamin A deficiency if they have poor diets or digestive disorders.
Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B-2, is a type of a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it cannot be stored in the body (39). It needs to be consumed every day. Riboflavin in combination with other B vitamins helps to prevent riboflavin deficiency. It is good for the skin since it prevents acne. It increases the mucus secretion of the skin and helps to clean up the skin pustules, whose blockage would lead to acne.
Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 (niacin) that is found in different foods such as meat, milk, eggs, yeast, vegetables, fish, and cereal grains. It is also produced in the body especially from foods that contain proteins.
Niacinamide contains two major enzymes (NADH and NADPH) that help in the production of lipids and cellular energy responsible for cell growth. Sufficient supply of both enzymes helps the skin to create external barriers that influence the aging process (40). As we grow older, the level of these enzymes decline, therefore if used as a supplement, vitamin B3 can slow down the aging processes.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is one of the 8 B vitamins that are found in meat, cereal grains, eggs, milk, vegetables, and legumes. Vitamin B5 is commercially available as D-pantothenic acid(41).
When creams, lotions or ointments that contain provitamin B5 are applied to the skin, they are converted to vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) which has strong abilities to soothe, moisturize, and heal the skin.
Fish, meat, dairy products, and eggs, are the major sources of Vitamin B12. Research shows that meals that contain large amounts of liver are rich sources of vitamin B12. What makes Methylcobalamin unique is that it benefits the skin by reducing dryness, redness, acne and inflammation. It can also help achieve stronger nails and it reduces hair breakage (43).
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a water-soluble vitamin that is related to glucose. It can be found in citrus fruits and other vegetables (44). In its natural form, Vitamin C acts as a reducing agent in several metabolic processes.
Some studies have shown that Ascorbic acid (45) may help prevent ultraviolet-induced skin damage. Aging and excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays lowers the level of vitamin C in the body (46). Therefore, supplementation might be necessary.
Vitamin D is a unique dietary supplement that is found in a few foods including oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, and sardines (47). Unlike vitamin D2 which is obtained from the diet, Vitamin D (47) is synthesized in the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Over time, the ability of the skin to create vitamin D decreases, and this requires the use of Vitamin D supplements. It is effective in preventing aging and skin wrinkles.
Vitamin E, also called tocopherol, is both an antioxidant and a nutrient. It has a reddish/light brown hue and it's a key ingredient in most skin care products. Eggs, cereals, vegetables, fruits, meat, and wheat germ oil are the main sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from irritations that may be caused by UV radiation. Some people apply Vitamin E cream on their skin to keep it from aging.
Vitex Agnus castus, also known as Vitex, Chaste Tree or Chasteberry, has been used for many years to treat premenstrual skin acnes (49). It is a native herb in most parts of Central Asia and Mediterranean. Seeds and fruits of chasteberry are used to make drugs.
Chaste berry works by regulating women’s reproductive hormones. Its supplement is effective in reducing acne flare ups that may be caused by changes in hormones.
Yellow Dock is a herb that belongs to the knotweed family (50). Its leaves are used for salads while the root is used for medicinal purposes.
Yellow dock powder is used as a skin remedy for conditions such as psoriasis and age spots
Zinc is one of the essential minerals in the body due to the vital role it plays in gene expression, cell replication, and growth. However, it possesses skin healthy benefits that make it popular (51).
Zinc helps to fight acne, it protects the skin from aging, and it facilitates wound healing. It is also effective in lessening the formation of free radicals.
In the human body, more than 300 different enzyme reactions depend on zinc (52). This shows that most of the metabolic processes that take place in the body require zinc. Most of the cold lozenges and over-the-counter drugs can be used to increase the level of zinc in your body and improve the health of your skin, but dietary supplements are more effective and less risky.