Investing in the health of your skin is crucial as it can positively impact other aspects of your life such as self-esteem and mental well-being. If you already maintain a well-rounded lifestyle by following a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, adhering to a consistent sleep schedule, and using a dermatologist-approved skincare routine, you may also consider incorporating supplements into your regimen for those over the age of 40.
Experts in skincare and health recommend seven essential supplements for aging gracefully. Read on for their valuable insights. We checked in with Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, board-certified NYC dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Nadir Qazi, board-certified physician, cosmetic dermatology surgeon and owner of Qazi Cosmetic Clinic and Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai.
In addition, we also received helpful tips from Lisa Richards, registered nutritionist, health expert and creator of The Candida Diet, Trista Best, RD, LD, MPH, registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements, Jordan Dorn, supplement expert, holistic nutritionist and co-founder of Zuma Nutrition, and Jay Cowin, NNCP, RNT, RNC, CHN, CSNA, registered nutritionist, personal trainer and health expert at ASYSTEM.
Experts Share 7 Supplements That Can Combat Effects Of Aging
Collagen is the protein responsible for supple skin and its elasticity, Jaliman says, and can be taken in supplement form daily while also found in many foods. Collagen loss begins as young as the age of 21 and by the age of 40, women have lost "between 10-20 percent of their collage and 1% thereafter," Richards explains.
After 40, you can still promote radiant, glowing skin, she notes, by taking collagen supplements, and eating foods rich in collagen, such as bone broth, eggs, chicken, berries, etc. "There are three primary types of collagen and it is best to consume a collagen supplement that contains most of the five forms," she says, "At the least it is ideal to take types 1 and 3 together."
Collagen can be taken supplementally as a capsule or powder form. "When taken as a powder, especially mixed in with a protein powder, this can enhance absorption of the collagen," Richards advises. Jaliman recommends a simpler option, one that can be paired directly with a product designed to promote more youthful-looking skin.
She suggests “mixing collagen powder with water or any drink” to specifically target your goals. This powerful pairing helps with overall hydration as your body needs water at any age, and collagen powder directly links to collagen production. The more collagen we have, she says, the more youthful our skin will feel and appear.
L-Lysine is an amino acid that is a primary building block of collagen, Dorn says. He notes that the body requires up to 2-3 grams a day for “optimal collagen synthesis,” an amount that is difficult to obtain from diet alone.
“As important as collagen is, I do not recommend taking a typical collagen supplement,” Dorn says, as most collagen supplements on the market come from animals, which “not only often contain the numerous toxins that industrial agriculture animals are fed,” but are also “very difficult” for the body to use.
The collagen molecule, in its whole form, is an extremely large molecule that the body cannot effectively break down and utilize, he continues, as he finds it “far more effective to take the specific nutrients,” like l-lysine, that allow your body to generate its own collagen naturally, “as it always has.”
L-Proline is another amino acid that is also an essential component of collagen and the elastin fibers that support connective tissue, Dorn says.
“L-Proline works in concert with L-Lysine to synthesize collagen, and collagen synthesis requires 1000mg of proline, which like L-Lysine, can be a difficult amount to obtain from diet.” As you’re probably already aware, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, accounting for nearly one-third of its protein composition.
Collagen, Dorn adds, gives skin the ability to move, stretch and rebound into shape, and this is known as skin elasticity. “Collagen is not just in the skin, but in our glands, organs, bones, heart valves, brain, liver and lungs as well,” Dorn says.
Unfortunately, he continues, after the age of 30, “collagen levels in the body drop 1-2 percent each year, and by age 45 the average person has already lost up to 30%,” leading to wrinkles and a loss of skin elasticity.
With that said, taking supplements like L-Proline help you “take the precursors and building blocks that allow your body to synthesize its own collagen,” Dorn stresses, so you can “naturally produce collagen daily and your skin health will improve significantly because of it,” taking on a more tone and firm appearance.
4. Vitamin C
If you already take the popular and effective vitamin C, good news! If not, or if you only obtain this nutrient through foods like fruits and vegetables, Dorn says there are notable skin-loving benefits to taking an additional supplement as well. Collagen synthesis, Dorn says, cannot occur without vitamin C.
“Vitamin C is responsible for many reactions in the body, specifically the manufacture of the collagen and protein that makes up 80% of our connective tissue,” he explains. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that can help fight off free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body, he adds, another reason why it benefits skin health. “The body requires 1000mg of Vitamin C in order to manufacture collagen,” he notes.
Cowin agrees, and points out that vitamin C is found in many skincare products, including serums, creams, and masks. “The reason why it's very popular is because it's a potent antioxidant that nourishes the skin by protecting it from sun damage, pollution, and other external factors,” he says. Cowin notes that it “boosts collagen production, which can brighten the skin and improve its texture,” thus making it look youthful-esque and healthier.
5. Vitamin A
According to Qazi, the optimal daily vitamin for women aged 40 and above seeking to firm up their skin and mitigate the signs of aging is unequivocally vitamin A.
He says that whether taken orally with a supplement or applied directly to your skin with a cream or serum,
"Vitamin A is effective at lessening the appearance of age." "Vitamin A stimulates collagen production and elastin formation, even after they start to break down, rebuilding and repairing what was lost," Qazi explains.
"If you think of your skin like a trampoline, the collagen would be the frame, and the elastin would be the springs that make the trampoline bouncy," he adds.
"Without the frame and springs, the trampoline is just some rumpled canvas on the ground." Luckily, your skin doesn't have to lose the frame or the springs when you add vitamin A into your daily routine!
6. Vitamin E
Another helpful supplement for a more glowing, supple and radiant complexion is vitamin E, Best says. "Vitamin E is naturally produced by the sebum which is emitted through the pores on the skin," she explains.
"This vitamin is oily and keeps the skin healthy, vibrant, and firm. Those with dry skin do not produce adequate amounts of vitamin E, leading to wrinkles, dark spots, and inflammation." She notes that "adding a vitamin E supplement to your morning regimen is an excellent way to help reduce and prevent wrinkles, including crow's feet."
Best advises that the absorption of vitamin E into the body can be enhanced by pairing it with food containing healthy fats, due to its fat-soluble nature.
"For optimal absorption and extra vitamin E, you could add an avocado to your breakfast because it is packed full of healthy fats and vitamin E," she suggests.
If you struggle with acne and/ or just want to promote clearer, softer and more nourished-looking skin as you age, Zeichner recommends taking zinc supplements. "Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help calm acne breakouts," he explains.
According to Zeichner, the inclusion of zinc supplements in your skincare regimen aids in the production of fresh, supple skin cells while also serving to mend any cells that may have been impacted by acne. This is particularly useful for individuals who have had acne troubles in the past or currently suffer from it.
Overall, while these seven supplements are highly regarded by skincare experts, consulting a dermatologist can help you determine the optimal supplement for your unique skincare needs. For those seeking to age gracefully, these supplements are frequently recommended by physicians and serve as a valuable starting point for supplement options!