How Important are Nutritional Supplements in Skin Health?

In recent decades the use of nutritional supplements has boomed, although scientific evidence has not always been in its favor. Terms such as functional food, nootropic food, nutricosmetic, nutraceutical, or the same nutritional supplement, have been incorporated into the vocabulary of the health world both in academic and informative environments.

It is true that an adequate diet is the basis of health and disease prevention, and that nutritional imbalances and deficiencies sometimes manifest themselves reliably – pellagra, xerosis, telogen effluvium – or in a larval form with small alterations in skin and hair. But it is also true that certain nutrients such as elevant with a favorable action on the skin organ, often do not reach a sufficient quantity through the diet to be able to exert their beneficial effects. Both the necessary proportion, which is achieved by the simultaneous multiplicity of foods -synergism- and the presence of other components such as fiber can influence the convenient assimilation.

Today there are studies in which the greater or lesser consumption of certain foods is related to skin parameters such as hydration or even the presence of wrinkles. Although a balanced diet adapted to the individual is in itself sufficient to provide all the necessary principles both at the macro and micronutrient levels, in supposedly well-balanced diets there may be imbalances that did not exist before, possibly associated with impoverishment of the land of cultivation in some minerals or to the change in animal feeding, so that certain unnecessary dietary interventions a few decades ago may be essential today.

At this Point Nutritional Supplements are Present

Nutraceuticals and Nutricosmetics

A nutraceutical compound can be defined as a dietary supplement, presented in a non-food matrix (pills, capsules, powder, etc.), of a concentrated natural bioactive substance usually present in food and that, taken in a dose greater than that existing in these foods, presumably, have a favorable effect on health, greater than that of normal food. The biological activity of these active principles usually incorporated through the diet has been studied in different areas such as cardiovascular prevention with phytosterols and omega 3 among others, or bone health with soy components.

When the intention is to act on the Skin and hair, we speak of nutricosmetics.

Thus, a nutricosmetic is the nutritional supplement formed by natural substances, of animal or vegetable origin, usually contained in food, and used orally at different doses, to act directly on the skin and hair. Active ingredients of nutritional origin that exert a more prominent protective role on the skin include lycopene from tomatoes, lutein from spinach, catechins from tea, resveratrol from red wine, isoflavones from soybeans, and vitamins of the type of tocopherols or ascorbic acid.

Nutricosmetics are based on the concept that the key to improving the appearance and external beauty has to be seeking global health, that is, “beauty from the inside”, and their effects can be exerted for various purposes such as photo protection, ant oxidation, anti-inflammatories, and modulations of the immune response, modulators of enzymatic reactions or as cell markers.

It is necessary that their bioavailability has been previously demonstrated, that is, that they are absorbed and reach the target tissues in adequate quantities; that there are studies that support its efficacy compared to placebo and to be able to assess and quantify the changes at the level of parameters such as hydration, photo protection or others.


Some published studies in which it has been supplemented with antioxidant vitamins have raised the alarm as to the fact that in some of them, contrary to expectations, an unwanted effect could be exerted, as is the case of the study with beta-carotene at a dose of 3 times nutritional factors in smokers, or a recent study by Miller with 135,967 participants in which high doses of vitamin E (more than 400IU / day) could increase the risk of mortality in the sample. These results have led to consider the importance in terms of doses, since although in both cases they were individuals with previous pathology or toxic habits; it is possible that high doses act as pro rather than as antioxidants or those high doses of fat-soluble vitamins have a long-term cumulative and unpredictable effect.

However, these studies should not invalidate the beneficial results obtained with moderate doses; there is an increasing bibliography in their favor.

In Europe, the EPIC study shows that more than half of the population does not meet the recommended daily intake of some of the RDA micronutrients, and that a quarter doe’s not even reach 50% of the RDA. Therefore it is not surprising that the Suvimax study in which it was supplemented with doses of antioxidants similar to those of a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes etc. has shown at least in the male population a decreased risk of ischemic heart disease, cancer and mortality in general.


Changes in nutritional status affect us globally. The western diet is in many cases favorable to inflammatory and pro-oxidant processes, being necessary to intervene by advising a greater consumption of foods of plant origin and of certain essential fats. Well-indicated and personalized nutritional supplements can achieve beneficial results on the skin and hair, which are difficult to achieve with diet alone.

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