Like all of our organs, the skin must be supplied by nutrients to continuously grow and divide. Both in health and in disease, certain nutraceuticals have been identified by researchers and medical professionals as being supportive to the skin. Interest for studying nutraceuticals is still just emerging within the scientific field, and we are only beginning to understand the roles that some nutraceuticals play in our skin. Below, some of the studied foods and supplements are discussed for their skin-savvy abilities.
Dietary flavonoids, like the catechins contained in green tea, are believed to be anti-inflammatory and potentially protective against sunburns.[1,2]
In a small clinical trial, researchers found that the green tea catechins and metabolites are bioavailable in the skin as well as in the gut, suggesting that compounds absorbed from the gut can travel to the skin. This finding was supported in another small human trial, which found that orally ingested green tea catechin metabolites were seen in human skin and decreased the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation exposure when compared to those that did not ingest green tea. These findings warrant further research into the relationship between gut and skin compounds and mechanisms by which green tea catechins play a role in photoprotection.
One study found that after short-term green tea consumption, skin oxygen tension improved. Skin oxygen tension is a measurement of the oxygen content in the skin’s blood vessels. Improved skin oxygen tension indicates improved oxygen flow to the skin, which is believed to support overall skin health. However, more studies are needed to understand how improved skin oxygenation may improve the skin in health.
Other studies assessing green tea catechins for their protective effects against ultraviolet radiation did not find significant changes to inflammation biomarkers after green tea catechin consumption.
Extra virgin olive oil is known to contain phenolic and polyphenolic compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have assessed these phenolic and polyphenolic compounds for their antioxidant activity and roles in inflammation. One such compound is olive oil’s polyphenol tyrosol, which was found to protect skin cells from ultraviolet radiation-induced cell death.
In a study of mice, olive oil administration was found to improve wound healing of pressure ulcers via the reduction of oxidative damage, thus improving inflammation. Another trial studied the phenolic compound oleocanthal, which researchers assessed for its anti-proliferative activity against human melanoma cells in the laboratory. The role of oleocanthal for cancer in the human body is unknown as laboratory cells are different from cancers in the body. Nevertheless, these early findings warrants further investigation into the role olive oil may play in cancer therapy.
Fermented milk, or yogurt, has been studied by researchers for its effects on skin hydration and the circulating levels of phenols in the body.[8-10] One study showed that consumption of yogurt containing beneficial probiotics prevented skin dryness. The authors of this study also concluded that gut bacteria produce phenols that cause the skin issues and that consumption of prebiotics and probiotics improved both skin and gut conditions.
Another study found that consecutive consumption of prebiotic and probiotic yogurt benefited the skin without increasing dryness and decreased levels of phenols produced by gut bacteria phenols in healthy adults. A third study found that consecutive intake of prebiotic and probiotic yogurt prevented skin dryness.
Collagen peptides, taken as an oral supplement, have been shown to improve skin barrier function. Researchers investigated the effects these peptide supplements have on skin hydration and the collagen network. The results showed that the collagen density increased significantly after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of supplementation. Thus, the researchers suggested that oral supplementation with collagen peptides may improve signs of skin aging.
Other studies have found that oral collagen peptide supplementation may improve wound healing, may improve skin recovery after fractional photothermolysis treatment, may improve skin elasticity, may increase sebum production, may reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles, may enhance collagen production, and reduces the severity of cellulite in skin.[12-16]
Like green tea, olive oil, yogurt and collagen peptide supplements, nutraceuticals are becoming more rigorously evaluated for their possible beneficial effects on skin parameters like skin hydration, wrinkles, and skin collagen synthesis. It’s safe to say that studies are underway and building the science behind the consumption of these health foods for skin wellness. And the best part? They’re delicious too.
To learn more about the important vitamins for skin health, read here.
* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.
Clarke KA, Dew TP, Watson RE, et al. Green tea catechins and their metabolites in human skin before and after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. J Nutr Biochem.2016;27:203-210; PMID: 26454512.
Rhodes LE, Darby G, Massey KA, et al. Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid. Br J Nutr.2013;110(5):891-900; PMID: 23351338.
Wasilewski R, Ubara EO, Klonizakis M. Assessing the effects of a short-term green tea intervention in skin microvascular function and oxygen tension in older and younger adults. Microvasc Res.2016;107:65-71; PMID: 27165772.
Farrar MD, Nicolaou A, Clarke KA, et al. A randomized controlled trial of green tea catechins in protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation. Am J Clin Nutr.2015;102(3):608-615; PMID: 26178731.
Salucci S, Burattini S, Battistelli M, et al. Tyrosol prevents apoptosis in irradiated keratinocytes. J Dermatol Sci.2015;80(1):61-68; PMID: 26166167.
Donato-Trancoso A, Monte-Alto-Costa A, Romana-Souza B. Olive oil-induced reduction of oxidative damage and inflammation promotes wound healing of pressure ulcers in mice. J Dermatol Sci.2016;83(1):60-69; PMID: 27091748.
Fogli S, Arena C, Carpi S, et al. Cytotoxic Activity of Oleocanthal Isolated from Virgin Olive Oil on Human Melanoma Cells. Nutr Cancer.2016;68(5):873-877; PMID: 27266366.
Miyazaki K, Masuoka N, Kano M, et al. Bifidobacterium fermented milk and galacto-oligosaccharides lead to improved skin health by decreasing phenols production by gut microbiota. Benef Microbes.2014;5(2):121-128; PMID: 23685373.
Kano M, Masuoka N, Kaga C, et al. Consecutive Intake of Fermented Milk Containing Bifidobacterium breve Strain Yakult and Galacto-oligosaccharides Benefits Skin Condition in Healthy Adult Women. Biosci Microbiota Food Health.2013;32(1):33-39; PMID: 24936360.
Mori N, Kano M, Masuoka N, et al. Effect of probiotic and prebiotic fermented milk on skin and intestinal conditions in healthy young female students. Biosci Microbiota Food Health.2016;35(3):105-112; PMID: 27508111.
Asserin J, Lati E, Shioya T, et al. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol.2015;14(4):291-301; PMID: 26362110.
Choi SY, Kim WG, Ko EJ, et al. Effect of high advanced-collagen tripeptide on wound healing and skin recovery after fractional photothermolysis treatment. Clin Exp Dermatol.2014;39(8):874-880; PMID: 25283252.
De Luca C, Mikhal'chik EV, Suprun MV, et al. Skin Antiageing and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation with Marine Collagen Peptides and Plant-Derived Antioxidants: A Single-Blind Case-Control Clinical Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev.2016;2016:4389410; PMID: 26904164.
Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, et al. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2014;27(3):113-119; PMID: 24401291.
Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, et al. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2014;27(1):47-55; PMID: 23949208.
Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, et al. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food.2015;18(12):1340-1348; PMID: 26561784.