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Beauty From the Inside Out: Do Anti-Aging Supplements Work?

concept of skin care oral supplements

Beauty is only skin deep—or is it? Oral supplements claiming to slow the visible signs of aging are cropping up more online and on store shelves. Nutricosmetics are nutritional supplements that, depending on the formula, claim to promote beauty of skin, hair and nails. These anti-aging supplements claim they can improve skin’s health and appearance via nutritional support.   

Of course, we know it’s better to get vitamins and minerals from naturally healthy food, but it isn’t always convenient to eat right all the time. Not to mention, even with a healthy diet, it can be hard to track if you’re getting the right range and quantities of specific vitamins and nutrients. Plant extracts, collagen, peptides, vitamins and proteins are some of the common components in nutricosmetics. Supplements and claims about what they do vary. Let’s take a closer look at some and what they may and may not do to help improve  skin’s health.

You may want to consult with your physician before taking nutricosmetic or other supplements as the FDA does not regulate supplements as it does for drugs. Remember that it’s wise to only ingest ingredients or supplements that are especially formulated and labeled as appropriate for human oral consumption.

Oral Collagen Supplements

Multiple oral hydrolyzed collagen supplements have popped up in the market over the last few years. But, do they work? A number of scientific studies show they may, including a 2021 study by the International Society of Dermatology, which examined 19 carefully selected studies on orally ingested hydrolyzed collagen supplementation. 

A combined 1,125 participants—95% women—ages 20 to 70 participated in the studies that homed in on wrinkles, hydration, firmness and elasticity of skin. The study showed that skin hydration, elasticity and the appearance of wrinkles improved by participants who ingested hydrolyzed collagen for 90 days.  

Collagen is the most abundant protein naturally found in connective tissues in our bodies, including the dermis that lies beneath the epidermis. However, the body’s ability to produce collagen gradually wanes with age.

Collagen can be sourced from various animals and vegetables and has been shown to support tissues in the body, including skin by stimulating collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid when taken as a food supplement. 

Topical products containing collagen, however, may not fare as well in providing anti-aging benefits, according to the Art of Dermatology article. While collagen applied directly to the outer skin layers may help improve skin moisture, its benefits seem to stop there. That’s because collagen molecules may be too large to penetrate skin and provide other anti-aging benefits. However, other topical skincare ingredients can support collagen production. 

Saw Palmetto Supplements

Saw palmetto has gained a lot of attention for its potential to support hair regrowth. More recently, saw palmetto is being touted as having the ability to improve the look of aging skin. However, there is a lack of clinical studies to support that claim.

Saw palmetto supplements are typically considered safe to take internally, however, not without side effects including headache and nausea, according to a study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It’s important to note that saw palmetto can change hormone levels when taken orally as a supplement. It may be best to consult your physician or avoid this ingredient if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking hormones as a regimen, the study says. 

Beta Carotene Supplements

Beta Carotenes, the natural colorant in many foods, can be ingested by eating fruits and vegetables, including sweet potatoes, mangos and carrots. 

Orally supplementing beta carotene, a vitamin A derivative, on a regular basis may help protect skin against signs of UV damage, such as sunburn, according to a 2021 study published in the Dermato-Endocrinology Journal. How much you take and how often you ingest beta carotene supplements may be an important factor in how much protection it may provide and should not be considered a substitute for topical sunscreen.

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Vitamin C Supplements

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is available in topical and oral forms to promote benefits to the skin. Its benefits can also be naturally derived from eating citrus fruits and some vegetables. 

Nutricosmetics products containing L-ascorbic acid and vitamin E when taken internally by people with UV-damaged skin, were shown to help prevent damage and skin cancer from sun exposure, according to the Landes Bioscience study.  

If citrus fruits and vegetables are not a regular part of your diet, take heart. Ascorbic acid as vitamin C is also available in topical skin products for a variety of antioxidant benefits. 

Retinol

Applied topically, retinol products can promote younger-looking skin by helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and promoting collagen production.

However, retinol should never be taken as an oral supplement. That’s because the body is unable to properly synthesize it in that form. Instead, retinol must be naturally derived from some of the foods we eat, according to the Dermato-Endocrinology Journal study mentioned above.  

Good sources of vitamin A—the main component of retinoids—include liver, milk, egg yolks and fatty fish. When it comes to using retinol, stick to a healthy diet that includes those vitamin A-rich foods and topically applied products containing retinol.

Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D can help further the skin’s ability to fight off free radicals, such as UV exposure, which can lead to signs of premature aging. It also aids skin’s ability to rejuvenate by calming inflammation and promoting cellular turnover. The opposite of that is that too much sun exposure is harmful to skin. 

Many foods, including dairy and cereal products, are fortified with vitamin D. Natural sources include salmon, tuna fish and beef liver. While vitamin D is available as an oral supplement, it is important to know the upper limits of intake to which you should adhere, according to the Dermato-endocrinology study mentioned above. Too much ingested vitamin D can have negative effects on the body. 

To be safe, use topical skincare products containing vitamin D or eat foods that contain it.

Oral Hyaluronic Acid Supplements

Hyaluronan, more familiarly known to skincare lovers as hyaluronic acid, is found in our soft connective tissues, including our largest organ—skin. Aging, sun and weather exposure and dryness can lower skin’s HA content and its ability to hold moisture, leading to wrinkled-looking, dry skin. 

Orally ingested HA may help improve skin’s overall condition and help to curb wrinkles. That, according to a 2021 double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in a 2021 Nutrients Journal, in which 40 healthy Asian men and women ages 35 to 64 ingested 120 mg of HA in capsule form for 12 weeks. 

After ingesting HA for the study duration, skin elasticity, water retention and wrinkles improved for the group over that which consumed a placebo, the study says. Topically applied hyaluronic acids are good alternatives to orally ingested HA. 

Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E and vitamin C work together in the body as antioxidants. Taken orally along with other compounds, these vitamins may offer substantial UV inhibitor benefits, according to the Landes Bioscience study. However, more research is needed, the study adds.  

Discover Professional, Proven Results for Younger-Looking Skin

Nutricosmetics anti-aging supplements may be right for you to try, but it’s best to first research the ingredients in any supplements you plan to take orally. It is also important to speak with your doctor before taking any oral supplement.

While oral supplements provide some benefits, professional topical skincare lines such as Biopelle directly affect the skin’s appearance and health. Biopelle is an award-winning, dermatologist-created, topical skincare regimen that safely targets your skincare concerns and promotes healthy-looking, glowing skin. Discover what Biopelle can do for you and your skin.

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