We tend to be creatures of habit and ease when it comes to our skin. If we spot a new wrinkle or zit, most of us grab a well-marketed beauty product. We tend to drift towards quick fix products we believe will ‘work’, even if we don’t understand why or how. Thankfully, the concept of inner health manifesting outer health has become more mainstream.
Our skin is the body’s largest organ. Everything we eat, drink, or put on our skin will affect it. For this reason, dealing with problem skin means we need to not only address our symptoms but look at the deeper reason for the problem. One of our most helpful skin health assistants is vitamin B.
Vitamin B: What’s all the hype?
There are eight different B vitamins, and they aid almost every single body function. The health and vitality of our nervous system, metabolism, organs, muscles, skin, and hair all benefit from an adequate absorption of B vitamins.
B vitamins are a critical component for cell development, and because our skin is constantly regenerating, these vitamins are essential. Your skin will renew at a relative rate to its health and suppleness. The tricky thing is, our bodies have a small capacity for storing these B vitamins; we need to refill our backup supply practically every day.
Signs of lacking Vitamin B
Being deficient in Vitamin B deficiency can seriously mess up your skin. Acne, dry skin, premature wrinkles—these are just a few of the potential signs. Skin sensitivity, redness, and localized irritation can also present as a clue to lack of critical nutrients.
B vitamins, cell renewal and stress relief
The two main jobs of B vitamins are cell renewal and stress relief (something we all need!) but they all work slightly differently. B vitamins have the most effect when taken as a supplement or ingested through food sources.
Thiamine helps to convert glucose into energy, helps to heal from wounds and injury, and is essential for nerve functions. Regarded as an anti-stress vitamin, B1 strengthens the immune system in powerful ways.
Found in: Whole grains and fortified cereals/grains, wheat germ, legumes, sunflower seeds, mussels, pork.
B2 encourages cell turnover and collagen maintenance (which we know is critical for healthy skin). It also reduces inflammation, helps with the secretion of mucus in the skin (goodbye acne) and improves zinc absorption.
Found in: Dairy products, mushrooms, beef liver, spinach, almonds, seaweed.
B3 treats a variety of skin conditions including dermatitis, acne, rosacea, eczema, sun-damaged skin, and hyperpigmentation. It works as a strong anti-aging ingredient and is often found in skin care products designed to combat fine lines and wrinkles.
Found in: Turkey, chicken, dairy products, liver, mushrooms, fish, peas, fortified breads and cereal.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
B5 preserves moisture in the skin, improving skin elasticity. Hydrated skin equals strong and resilient skin—go B5!
Found in: Mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato, legumes, chicken, turkey, broccoli.
Another major de-stressor, B6 regulates mood and sleep. It helps our bodies produce serotonin, melatonin, and norepinephrine (a stress hormone), among others. Stress and inadequate sleep increase inflammation in the body, something we want to avoid as much as possible if we want glowing, healthy skin.
Found in: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach, bananas.
B7 helps with the metabolism of fatty acids, along preventing water loss. A B7 deficiency can manifest as brittle hair, brittle nails, and dry, flaky skin. Severe cases result in red and scaly skin. B7 also fights inflammation and combats fungal infections.
Found in: Almonds, sweet potato, eggs, onions, whole grains, tomatoes, sardines, broccoli. While it’s often included in many hair and skincare products, ingestion is the best method of absorption.
B9 (Folic Acid)
B9 is an antioxidant that aids in cell turnover. It is often recommended for pregnant women as it helps prevent birth defects. Studies have also shown that when applied topically along withcreatine, it fights signs of sun damage and aging, leading to firmer looking skin.
Found in: Dark, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus, beans and legumes, okra, nuts and seeds, beets.
B12 aids in cell reproduction and can be applied topically for skin benefits. B12 fights inflammation, dryness, and acne. It is sometimes used to treat conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Found in: Only found in animal products, though vegetarians can opt for fortified foods. Sources include eggs, dairy, fish, and meat.
Let Food by Thy Medicine
You don’t need to look too hard to find a healthy skin regimen. A diet rich in dark leafy greens, plant-based proteins, and whole grains is an effective way to get your glow on. Take a peek at your diet to see where you might need improvement and consider consulting a nutritionist for help with a personal food plan.