Q&A: Beauty In A Bottle?


Do “beauty supplements” really work?

There are lots of supplements on the market that promise to improve skin health, but only recently has the so-called science of “dermo-nutrition” started to emerge to really investigate these claims in a scientific way.  As a result, good evidence to support or refute these claims is still quite limited.

There’s a limited amount of evidence that suggests certain antioxidants—like those found in green tea, Vitamin E, acai, beta-carotene or pomegranate–might reduce or repair UV-induced skin damage, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest using these instead of a good sunscreen for the very same purpose.  This is especially so since many of these studies have been conducted in labs (in vitro), not in living human subjects (in vivo).  Another factor to consider is that large doses of antioxidants from supplements may have unintended, adverse health effects in certain populations.  If you’re interested in using nutrition to improve your sun resistance, try getting these antioxidants from foods your diet, where the doses tend to be safer—AND using a good sunscreen as back-up.

Some small studies on supplements rich in omega-3 and certain omega-6 essential fatty acids (especially one called Gamma Linoleic Acid, or GLA)—including Borage Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and Flaxseed Oil–have linked them to improvements in moisture retention and decreased roughness and scaling: improvements some might consider to contribute to a decreased appearance of aging.  This makes sense, since these fatty acids are important components of cell membranes and help maintain skin’s barrier function… and hydrated skin is healthy skin.  Since these nutrients support good overall health anyway, taking a regular essential fatty acid supplement is unlikely to have any adverse health risks—and could possibly improve the skin’s appearance.  If you want to try it out, just be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these supplements don’t interact with other drugs or supplements you may also be taking.

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