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Understanding the Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Skin Health

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP

  1. Antioxidants – Antioxidant nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Selenium and Zinc have been shown to play an important role in skin health via three important biological functions:
    1. Antioxidant function (quenching free radicals generated from ultra-violet light)
    2. Prostaglandin synthesis (increase synthesis of PG-1 and PG-3 via their effects on cyclooxygenase enzyme)
    3. Detoxification (enhance activity of certain detoxification enzymes that reduce blood toxins, which can trigger immune inflammatory reactions that affect the development of skin lesions and poor complexion)

Antioxidant Function
Developing skin epidermal cells below the surface of the skin contain molecular oxygen (O2), which can be transformed into a free radical (superoxide anion) with absorption of an electron from ultra-violet light photon energy that penetrates into the epidermal layers. The absorption of two electrons by molecular oxygen produces hydrogen peroxide (HOOH), which can travel to the nucleus of the cell, and then be converted into two hydroxy radicals (HO- plus –OH) upon donation of an electron from a transition metal (iron, copper). Together, the superoxide anion and hydroxy radicals cause extensive free radical damage to various parts of the cell, including the cell membrane, enzymes, lipids, proteins and the DNA of the cell.  This damage is linked to accelerated aging of the skin, skin cancer development and wrinkling of the skin (wrinkling is linked to free radical damage that occurs in the dermis; increased elastin and fibrin synthesis and displacement and structural changes to the glycosaminoglycans (dermatan sulfate and hyaluronic acid), reducing their water binding capacity).

Like other cells in the body, epidermal cells contain antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase), which quench and neutralize free radicals within skin cells. Unfortunately, these enzymes cannot prevent ultra-violet induced skin damage by themselves and require additional support from the nutritional antioxidants mentioned above. Studies reveal that supplementation with antioxidant nutrients, at levels beyond which can be obtained from food alone, provide epidermal cells and the dermal layers with significant protection from free radicals generated from exposure to ultra-violet light. As such, antioxidant supplementation has been shown to reduce skin inflammation, sunburn reaction, DNA-damage, protein oxidation and alterations to the dermal layers, upon exposure to ultra-violet light, compared to the non-supplemented groups.

Additionally, nutritional antioxidants are incorporated into the skin surface lipids, and provide added antioxidant protection to the skin by preventing the build up of peroxides, which otherwise occur when the fats in the skin surface lipids become converted into free radicals (peroxides) upon exposure to ultra-violet light.

Thus, scientific evidence strongly suggests that, in addition to reducing exposure to ultra-violet light, wearing protective clothing, and using antioxidant-enriched suntan lotions, individuals should ingest a high potency antioxidant supplement (Adeeva Formula 1) to help optimize protection against premature skin aging, skin cell mutations (skin cancer), and skin wrinkling (solar elastosis).

Prostaglandin Synthesis
As noted in the previous section of this manual, antioxidant vitamins and minerals (Vitamins C, E, selenium and zinc) are important modulators of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, and thereby enhance the conversion of dihommo-gamma linolenic acid to PG-1 and eicosapentaenoic acid to PG-3. In turn, these prostaglandin hormones improve the texture and appearance of the skin making it softer, smoother, and moister, and aid in the amelioration of various skin conditions.

The detoxification enzymes found within liver cells and intestinal epithelial cells convert harmful and potentially harmful chemical (as well as end products of metabolism) into biologically inactive substances that the body can more easily eliminate via the urine or fecal route. With respect to the skin, certain toxins and/or endotoxins (endotoxins are secreted by unfriendly bacteria that may reside in the intestinal tract) that circulate through the bloodstream have been shown to trigger immune inflammatory responses in some individuals, which in turn aggravates or causes certain skin disorders such as eczema, and psoriasis. Thus, by enhancing detoxification function, antioxidants (and certain B-Vitamins) have been shown to help purify the blood and reduce the likelihood of immune inflammatory reactions.

Specifically, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and selenium supplementation have been shown to increase liver glutathione levels. Glutathione is involved in both phase I and phase II detoxification processes, and its concentrations are known to be a vital indicator of the detoxification capacity of the body.  Vitamin C is also known to enhance phase I detoxification enzymes (50-100 different enzymes comprising the P450 mixed function oxidase system). Vitamin C also stimulates acetylation reactions (along with certain B-Vitamins), which are an important part of the phase II detoxification system.

Hence, the antioxidant levels found in Adeeva Formuala 1 are vital components of skin care management in as much as they reduce free radical damage to the skin, facilitate the formation of PG-1 and PG-3 hormones and enhance the detoxification capacity of the body, helping to reduce blood concentration or foreign chemicals that may produce immune inflammatory reactions.

  1. B-Vitamins – B-Vitamins play a crucial role in skin cell development as evidenced by the fact that frank or marginal deficiencies of certain B-Vitamins are known to produce skin conditions and disorders that are treatable only via B-Vitamin supplementation (e.g. angular stomatitis, naso-labial seborrhea). Certain B-Vitamins (niacin and Vitamin B6) are also required as coenzymes in the synthesis of PG-1 and PG-3, and many B-Vitamins are required as co-factors by phase II detoxification enzymes, helping to clear the blood of foreign chemicals that may trigger immune inflammatory reactions. Thus, a B-50 supplement (Adeeva Formula 1) is important to optimal skin care management in three ways:
    1. Prevention of marginal B-Vitamin deficiency state (a very common finding)
    2. PG-1 and PG-3 synthesis (coenzyme role)
    3. Enhance Detoxification Function of Many Phase II Enzymes (coenzyme role)
  1. Minerals
    1. Zinc – zinc has been shown to be important to skin health in a number of ways:
      1. Antioxidant function
      2. PG-1 and PG-3 synthesis (coenzyme function)
      3. Sebaceous gland function
      4. Skin cell regeneration
      5. Acne, eczema and psoriasis treatment
      6. Wound healing

      The average intake of zinc is only 8-9 mg per day, which falls significantly short of the RDA (15 mg).

      1. Selenium – selenium has been shown to be important to skin health in a number of ways:
      1. Antioxidant function
      2. PG-1 and PG-3 synthesis (modulates cyclooxygenase activity)
      3. Increased glutathione levels for enhanced detoxification
      4. Low blood levels of selenium are associated with eczema and psoriasis in human studies.
    1. Calcium – calcium (along with Vitamin D, copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese) is needed for optimal bone strength and density and to optimize the hardness of the nails. Studies show that most individuals fall short of their calcium requirements each day by at least 500 mg. The Adeeva Formula 1 contains 500 mg of elemental calcium, as well as 400 IU of Vitamin D, 200 mg of magnesium, 15 mg of zinc, 2 mg of copper, and 5 mg of manganese. This is a powerful nutrient combination to help support bone health during adult life and also improves the hardness and qualities of the nails, as reported by numerous clients.


    1. Other Skin Nutrients of Importance:
      1. Vitamin A – Vitamin A is required for normal skin cell development, as sub-optimal levels of Vitamin A results in reduced skin cell and glandular secretions, and hyperkeratinization of epidermal cells, producing dry, hard, flaky skin, with lack of normal secretions to keep the skin moist. Adeeva Formula 1 contains 2,500 IU of Vitamin A. This is an adequate supplement level and guards against birth defects in female offspring, which can otherwise occur with higher levels of Vitamin A supplementation. Note that the body can convert up to one-sixth of the Beta-carotene consumed into Vitamin A if it is required for that purpose. Otherwise Beta-carotene itself is a powerful antioxidant that is known to protect skin cells from ultra-violet light induced free radicals. Adeeva Formula 1 contains 15,000 IU of Beta-carotene. Fifty percent of US adults have been shown to consume less than the RDA amount of Vitamin A each day, on average.
      2. Vitamin D – skin cells also display Vitamin D receptors within their cell membrane, which allow Vitamin D to enter skin cells. Vitamin D is known to encourage normal maturation of epithelial cells (including epidermal cells), a role it seems to share with Vitamin A. Vitamin D blood levels have been shown to be sub-optimal in countries that are north or south of the 40 degree latitude (all of Canada and the upper half of the US), due to insufficient year round sunlight intensity. Exposure to direct sunlight catalyzes the conversion of 7-dehydro cholesterol to Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) under the skin, raising blood levels of this vital nutrient. Every 400 IU of Vitamin D supplementation raises blood levels by approximately 45 units. In most cases this is sufficient to ensure more optimal blood levels of Vitamin D, which affects bone health and skin health, as well as the health of the epithelial cells of the breast, colon and prostate gland.
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