- Vitamin A helps with skin turnover, which means that it can help your body get rid of old skin cells and replace them with new ones.
- Vitamin C is important to apply topically since it stimulates the production of collagen and helps heal damage from sun exposure.
- Vitamin E can keep your skin hydrated and prevent premature wrinkles.
- This article was medically reviewed by Kathleen Cook Suozzi, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine.
Vitamins are essential for mental well-being, a strong immune system, and overall health. But it’s not all about what’s on the inside. Vitamins can also help with what’s on the outside: your skin. And if you eat right and use certain vitamin-laced skincare products, you may help prevent premature aging skin. Here’s which vitamins can help and how.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals that break down collagen and cause skin to age, sag, and develop fine lines, says Jennifer Chwalek, MD, a dermatologist with Union Square Laser Dermatology.
It also helps with skin turnover, which is the process of shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with new ones. Vitamin A helps the body grow new skin cells so that this process can occur.
Vitamin A can help you get “a glowing complexion,” says Chwalek.
How much you need: Men need 900 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin A per day, and women need about 700 mcg per day.
Foods rich in Vitamin A include:
- Broccoli, kale, and spinach
- Red peppers
- Orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes
- Fish, such as cod or halibut
Topical application: Many skincare products contain retinol, which is a derivative of vitamin A. Retinol promotes the production of new skin cells, which can be useful in treating acne and may help reduce the appearance of aging.
Related Slideshow: 25 healthy foods that give you glowing skin (Provided by Eat This, Not That!)
The name “Vitamin B” is a bit of a misnomer since there are actually eight kinds of B vitamins. They all help keep you healthy, in slightly different ways. Vitamins B3, B7, and B12, in particular, can help with skin appearance.
Feeling sluggish and looking drawn and tired? You might need more B12, which helps prevent anemia. And B3, or niacin, helps your skin maintain moisture. And a deficiency in Vitamin B7 — also called Biotin — can lead to skin conditions like eczema.
How much B3 you need: Adult men need about 16 milligrams (mg) per day of niacin, while adult women need 14 mg.
How much B7 you need: About 30 mcg per day.
How much B12 you need: Men and women both should aim for 2.4 mcg per day of B12.
A good source vitamins B12 and B3 include:
Topical application: Vitamin B3 is an effective topical ingredient, says Erum, because it can hydrate your skin and reduce inflammation associated with redness and breakouts. Another B vitamin, folate, which is sometimes known as B9, can also improve the firmness, elasticity, and texture of the skin.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it helps protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. It also helps your body make collagen, which can help keep your skin stay firm and minimize the appearance of fine lines caused by sun damage.
How much you need: Adult men need 90 mg of Vitamin C every day, and women need about 75 mg.
Foods that are a good source of vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits
- Red and green peppers
Topical application: According to Chwalek, vitamin C is “the most important vitamin to apply topically” because it helps heal damage from sun exposure. Vitamin C serums can also stimulate the production of collagen and get rid of dark spots. Look for skincare products that contain L-ascorbic acid, which is the liquid form of vitamin C.
Like so many other vitamins, vitamin E also is an antioxidant, which is what makes important for skin health. “Vitamin E can prevent collagen breakdown in the skin, which results in wrinkles,” says Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, a dermatologist with Montgomery Dermatology LLC, and the founder of AmberNoon.
How much you need: Adults need about 15 mg of Vitamin E per day.
Foods to eat rich in vitamin E:
- Nuts, such as almonds and peanuts
- Vegetable oils (such as sunflower and safflower oils)
- Green vegetables like spinach, collard greens, and broccoli
- Sunflower seeds
Topical application: Vitamin E is an effective moisturizer because it can penetrate into your skin’s layers and keep them hydrated, says Ilyas.
How else to keep your skin healthy
While you’re making time to incorporate more vitamins into your diet and skincare routine, don’t forget about other habits that are just as important to keeping your skin healthy.
- Wear sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater to all exposed skin before heading outside. Don’t forget to reapply, too!
- Wash your face. Don’t fall asleep without washing off your makeup, as well as any oils or dirt that might have settled on your face during the day.
- Drink up. Staying hydrated also keeps your skin better hydrated, which improves its appearance.
- Stop smoking. Ditch the cigarettes, since smoking can speed up the aging process of your skin.