Skin is often referred to as the largest organ in our body. The first line of defense - a physical barrier to protect and preven...Skin is often referred to as the largest organ in our body. The first line of defense - a physical barrier to protect and prevent infection and subsequent illness. Skin is also location-specific in terms of its barrier strength and elasticity.
Skin is the first physical barrier foreign invaders meet, it protects us from potentially harmful substances. It has a fatty outer layer, which allows sweat to be secreted but also prevents water from entering. Imagine if all the water when we showered could be absorbed. Showers would be the leading cause of death worldwide. Anyhow, I digress, the skin is made up of three main layers:
Epidermis: is made up of 4-5 different layers.
Dermis: mainly composed of the proteins elastin and collagen, responsible for skin rigidity and elasticity. Sweat glands and small blood vessels are also found here.
Hypodermis/subcutis: Final layer made up primarily of fat tissue.
The skin has many functions, we already mentioned protection by acting as a physical barrier. It is also involved in thermoregulation, put simply is allows us to sweat and dissipate heat. Thereby, regulating body temperature. Finally, one many overlook or forget is the crucial production of vitamin D, which will be touched on later in crucial nutrients. For now, just know the skin is different depending on the specific location and is highly malleable (i.e., callus formation following repetitive friction/abrasion of the surface).
How can I maintain good skin health?
Regular exercise has many benefits that are specific to the skin. For example, exercise can improve blood flow to the skin: by stressing capillaries located in the epidermis (top layer) we can actually improve blood delivery, meaning more oxygen and nutrients in the environment, which will help maintain good skin health over time. In addition, often depending on the exercise, more of these capillaries can be created (angiogenesis). There is also research investigating the skin barrier following exercise, remember to shower as soon as possible post-exercise, and use moisturizers. (Source: NCBI)
I will leave you with the World Health Organisation physical activity guidelines from 2020 which seem most appropriate (Source: BJSM):
"It is recommended that: ► All adults should undertake regular physical activity; ► Adults should do at least 150–300 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75–150min of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week for substantial health benefits; ► Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits"
Other Lifestyle Factors
Long-term Smoking: Can damage and age skin
Excessive Alcohol: May increase skin permeability and damage from sunburn
Poor Sleep: Decrease skin integrity and function
Poor Diet: Increased stiffness and skin elasticity
Regulates the inflammatory process, and omega-3 fats are crucial components of most cells in the body. Thereby, influencing their function, including the many cells in the skin. Omega-3 has been shown to be effective in improving inflammatory skin conditions (Source: NCBI).
Vegetarians/vegans need to supplement with an algae oil. Plant-based sources will not provide enough omega-3 fats in most cases. Omnivores who do not consume oily fish 2-3 times a week should also consider a supplement.
Cocoa flavanols have been shown to improve skin roughness and elasticity, and also resilence to sun exposure before the skin becomes burned (Source: NCBI).
Most consume highly processed chocolate, to obtain the benefit seen in the above research it seems between 8-25g of 70% cocoa dark chocolate (320mg of cocoa flavanols) is needed for a 24 week period. More reading HERE.
Some evidence that vitamin D supplementation can increase the production of antimicrobial peptides. In addition, to its role in immune function and may decrease inflammation in skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (Source: NCBI).
Everyone, irrespective of diet, should ensure adequate sun exposure and/or supplement during the winter months. Especially, in countries most north.
While consumption of these nutrients through natural or fortified foods is preferred, these nutrients may occasionally need supplementation (Source: NCBI). Vitamin D supplementation, in particular, may be required when sunlight exposure is limited. Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels is likely beneficial for immune function and resistance to infections. Supplementing with ~ 1000-2000 IU/day vitamin D3 is the recommendation for those who have zero sun exposure. (Source: NCBI, MDPI)
General supplementation should be considered for restrictive or low energy-density diets.
Want to learn more?
Here at Plent, we are different than most other supplement retailers out there. We are committed to consumer education and empowerment, brand transparency and quality assurance of all our own supplements. For this reason, we want all our customers to have a full and rounded understanding of the world of supplementation. If you would like to read more about managing skin health from the experts, check out the links below, and in particular the Instagram account: