Do you suffer from dry, itchy and flaky skin? There are numerous skin disorders that can lead to problematic symptoms that affect us in our day-to-day life. From scaly and flaky skin, to redness and soreness. Not to mention, the dreaded white flakes on your shoulder. However, did you know that holistic care of many of these conditions can be supported with lifestyle and nutrition?
Brief information about skin
Skin is made up of multiple layers each with a particular purpose. The main role of our skin is to act as a barrier against the outside world. It’s our primary defence. Below you will see a diagram of the layers of skin that can be broken down into our epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue.
The outermost layer or skin, the one that we can see is called the epidermis. This is made up of 5 layers itself – The basal cell layer, squamous cell layer, then the stratum granulosum, lucidum and corneum. The epidermis can be found all over our body in different thicknesses. For thinner and more delicate skin, the epidermis is typically 0.5mm, this includes skin around the eyes. Whereas, for harder and tough skin, such as on the heels of our feet and palm of our hands the epidermis is typically 1.5mm. The outermost layer is the stratum corneum, this is made up of dead skin cells that shed every 28-30 days. Whereas the inner most layer is called the basal cell layer, this is the most active layer of the epidermis where basal cells continuously divide and push older ones up through the layers of the skin. The main role of the epidermis is to protect against the outside environment, by acting as a waterproof barrier, protect against infection and UV rays.
Next, you have the dermis. This is the largest layer of skin ranging from 1.5-4mm thick. Contained within this are hair follicles, lymph vessels, oil glands, nerves and sweat glands. The main structural components of this layer are collagen and elastin, these help to make the skin plump, flexible, and elastic. The main role of the dermis is temperature control and sensation. Not to mention, this is where the majority of the body’s water supply is stored.
Lastly, you have the subcutaneous layer. This is made up of collagen and fat cells. As you can imagine, the thickness of this layer varies from person to person. Within this layer you will also find blood and lymph vessels as well as hair follicles. The main roles of this layer are temperature regulation and protecting the organs residing under our skin.
Types of skin disorder
- Eczema- This involves both the dermis and epidermis layers of the skin. The most common agreeable cause is thought to be an overactive immune system, however other causes may include a pro-inflammatory response, allergies, diet or stress.
- Psoriasis-This affects the epidermis layer of skin. The cause is an overactive immune response whereby immune cells enter the skin through the blood vessels embedded in the dermis. This promotes rapid generation and thickening of the outermost skin.
- Acne-This ailment begins in the dermis layer of the skin where the hair follicles and sebaceous glands are found. Acne is thought to form when sebaceous glands become blocked. This is most common in puberty as androgens increase and cause increased production of sebum/oil.
- Dermatitis- This a generalized term that can encompass many well know disorders like dandruff and eczema. Dermatitis affects the outermost layer of skin called the epidermis.
These are only a few of the most common skin ailments, the list goes on...
Nutrition for healthy skin
You have probably heard the age-old fact that our skin is the largest organ in the body. So, let’s treat it with respect. As you may know by now, what you eat plays a big part in wellness inside and outside of the body. Many studies have investigated the role of nutrition for our skin vitality. Some of these nutrients and herbals are discussed below.
Vitamin A can be found in the form of retinol or carotenoids. Vitamin A is well known to support skin health. The role of Vitamin A in the skin is to regulate gene expression for the functional and structural components in the skin. Studies support this idea, people who are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis were shown to have lower concentrations of vitamin A in their skin. Additionally, typical symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency include, blocked sebaceous and sweat glands as well as hyperkeratinisation. Our daily recommendation of Vitamin A is 600-700mcg for adults. You can source Vitamin A from dairy, or red/orange fruits and vegetables. Retinoid forms of Vitamin A found in animal sources are much stronger than those found in plant-based sources. If you are looking for a supplemental form you may like to try beta-carotene, Lutein or Retinol. All supplemental sources of Vitamin A are vegan and vegetarian.
Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is the 2nd of the B-vitamins. Deficiency of Vitamin B2 has been shown to cause cracked and sore skin, and even dermatitis-like symptoms such as itching. At the time this article is being written (Jan 2021) there is an ongoing clinical trial looking at psoriasis whereby 400mg of oral Vitamin B2 supplementation is given. Primary outcomes of this are patients achieving over 50% of psoriasis area and severity index reduction. Results for this clinical trial will be made available after the trial ends in March 2021. Our daily requirements for Vitamin B2 are 1.1-1.3mg dependent on gender. Food rich in Vitamin B2 include meat, dairy, cereals, yeast, nuts and spinach. Alternatively, you may like to source your vitamin B2 from supplementation, either through a vitamin B2 or B-vitamin complex. Sometimes Vitamin B2 is written as Riboflavin.
Vitamin C is a famed nutrient for supporting skin health. Not only does it act as an antioxidant it also plays roles in the immune system by fighting infection, and in collagen production in the skin. Not to mention, common symptoms of the deficiency state, scurvy, whereby common symptoms include dry and scaly skin. Vitamin C is essential for the health of the epidermis which is composed of collagen. The content of vitamin C in the epidermis is 425% higher than the content in the dermis. Numerous studies have been shown to support the treatment of dermatitis by promoting skin cell differentiation, collagen production and maintaining a healthy barrier against the environment. One study in particular found that there was an inverse association, as severity of atopic dermatitis increased, the level of Vitamin C in the plasma decreases. The highest density of vitamin C can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Our daily recommendation is 40mg per day.
Biotin is actually one of the B-vitamins, Vitamin B7 to be exact. Biotin is a well-known vitamin to help with skin health. Biotin is thought to maintain the normal function of skin. A typical symptom of Biotin deficiency is a red and scaly rash on the skin. Animal and human studies demonstrated that a biotin-deficient diet led to dermatitis. In the UK there is no official recommendation for Biotin, however an unofficial recommendation states a dosage of approximately 50mcg/day. Biotin can be found in eggs, cheese, green leafy vegetables, nuts, rice and meats. However, the biotin supplement market is incredibly popular. Some people like to take as much as 5000mcg of Biotin/day.
Zinc promotes skin health by acting as an antioxidant as well as maintaining normal skin health. According to research 6% of the body’s zinc is found in the skin. The majority of the zinc is found in the dermis and epidermis, but predominantly the epidermis. It’s role within the skin is to stabilize cell membranes and promote healthy cell differentiation. Zinc is commonly used in the treatment of some skin disorders, such as, atopic dermatitis and acne. Inherited or acquired zinc deficiency has been linked with a number of skin disorders including psoriasis, acrodermatitis, blisters and acrodermatitis entropathica. Every day we are recommended to consume between 7-9.5mg of zinc dependent on gender. The best sources of zinc include seafood, dairy, legumes and wholegrains. Zinc can also be taken within a supplement. Most supplements provide around 15mg of zinc per day.
The use of aloe vera for skin ailments dates back to ancient Egypt. Raw aloe vera contains 75 active constituents including enzymes, minerals, lignin, saponins, salicylic acid and amino acids. Not to mention being rich in antioxidant vitamins such as a vitamin C and E. In a systematic review of studies using aloe vera for skin ailments, they found that 23 trials showed evidence that aloe vera helped to prevent skin ulcers, heal burns and post-operative wounds. As well as support the management of psoriasis and chronic wounds such as pressure sores. Aloe vera is most commonly taken in supplement form, due to the highly concentrated source of aloe vera found in herbal extracts. Aloe vera can be extracted from the aloe vera barbadensis or miller.
Oat- Avena Sativa
Oats aren’t just a high-fibre breakfast option, they have been used in topical skin care products for years. It carries an approved health claim for helping to soothe the skin, maintain healthy skin, minimise dry skin and improve overall appearance of the skin. There is evidence of oat being used for centuries to manage skin disorders including dry skin, rashes, and even eczema. The agreed mechanism Is thought to be that oat helps to strengthen the barrier of the skin against the outside environment. You typically find oat in topical lotions due to the host of evidence supporting its use for moisturization with topical application. However, some ingestible supplements also include oats. This may be written as Avena Sativa.
Green tea is a popular ingredient within health foods due to it’s rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols. As we discussed earlier, acne can be caused by excessive sebum (oil) production at the sebaceous glands. This production is promoted by androgen hormones. Whereas, green tea has been shown act as an anti-androgen that may help with reducing acne and oily skin. The use of green tea in self care has been shown to support not only acne but rosacea, wound healing and atopic dermatitis.
Lifestyle tips for healthy skin
- Try to avoid any products that are highly perfumed or fragranced as this can irritate the skin.
- Aim for a minimum of 2 litres of water per day, this will help to keep the skin hydrated.
- Always wear sun protection to protect against UV rays.
- Source skin-friendly healthcare products without unnecessary added chemicals.
- We recommend that you see a dermatologist if the skin ailment persists.
Our Healthy Skin Tablets
Our Healthy Skin tablets contain, aloe vera, green tea, ginger, Vitamins A, B2, B3, Biotin, Zinc and Iodine. These 9 key ingredients come in a small 10mm round tablet. Simply take 1 tablet a day for visible skin improvements.
At Vytaliving we wish for you to take away any information you deem important for your health. It could just be a lifestyle change that you add to your daily routine or it interest in one of our products. If it’s the latter, we have a product for you.
Start feeling comfortable in your own skin again, focus on nutrition, hydration and self-care
- Garrow JS James WP Ralph A Skin, hair and nails: Human nutrition and dietetics 2000 10th ed Churchill Livingstone 731 46