As the largest organ in the body, your skin has many functions including protecting your skeleton, keeping bacteria out to prevent infection and regulating your body temperature. If you eat right and take care of your skin, you can maintain a healthy, youthful appearance. If you are unhappy with your skin, supplementing your diet with certain vitamins may make a positive difference.
Vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis. Collage is a protein that keeps your skin firm. Over time, your body produces less collagen. Supplementing your diet with vitamin C will help you maintain the structural strength, support and elasticity of your skin. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C is 90 and 75 milligrams per day for men and women, respectively. Vitamin C supplements, or ascorbic acid, are available in a variety of forms with none proving to be more effective than another. Large amounts of vitamin C have not been shown to be toxic; however, the tolerable upper intake level is 2,000 milligrams per day to avoid stomach upset.
Your body produces free radicals in response to environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke, and natural metabolism. Free radicals damage your skin, giving it a dry and wrinkled appearance. Vitamin E has antioxidant activity in your body, scavenging free radicals and protecting your skin from damage. The adult recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E is 15 milligrams. The average intake of vitamin E in the United States is well below the recommended level making vitamin E supplementation important for skin health. Vitamin E supplements are found in natural or synthetic forms. Your body is able to use more of the natural supplements compared to the synthetic supplements. The tolerable upper intake level is set at 1,000 milligrams per day for natural and synthetic forms, to prevent blood clots and potential hemorrhage.
Vitamin A keeps your skin smooth and young looking. This nutrient activates DNA, which sends a signal in your body to shed old skin cells and produce new ones. New cells protect your skin from irritants, which helps prevent acne, wrinkles and precancers. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A is 900 and 700 micrograms per day for men and women, respectively. Vitamin A in supplement form is found as retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and beta-carotene. The tolerable upper intake level is set at 3,000 micrograms per day. Signs of acute toxicity include nausea, headache, fatigue, dizziness and loss of appetite. Signs of chronic toxicity include dry skin, loss of appetite and bone and joint pain.
If you are deficient in vitamin B12, you may experience skin lesions associated with hyperpigmentation or vitiligo. With hyperpigmentation, your skin will appear darker. By contrast, vitiligo causes irregular, dark patches to appear on your skin. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms. If you experience skin lesions, you may benefit from supplementing your diet with this vitamin, especially if you are vegetarian or your body does not adequately absorb vitamin B12. There is no known toxicity associated with vitamin B12 supplementation.
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