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Summertime Supplements for Healthy Skin

vitamins for healthy skin

Summertime Supplements for Healthy Skin

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

Staci Gulbin is a registered dietitian with Staci is also a freelance writer, health editor, the founder of, and the author of The High-Protein Bariatric Cookbook. 

Staci has graduate degrees in Biology, Human Nutrition, and Nutrition Education from New York University and Columbia University, respectively. She has treated thousands of patients across many wellness areas such as weight management, fitness, long-term care, rehab, and bariatric nutrition. 

As the warm, summer months approach, short-sleeved shirts, skirts, and bathing suits make their debut. In turn, you are going to want your skin to look its best. You can apply lotions and creams to reduce dryness and spray tans to glow brighter. However, if you truly want summertime skin, you should look into nourishing your skin with the proper vitamins and minerals that will provide deeper skin health support. Read below to learn a bit about vitamins for healthy skin you can consume today to help keep your skin healthy from the inside out.

Fast facts about your skin

Your skin is not only one of the first things people see, but it’s your body’s largest organ that protects you from harmful microbes in the environment around you (1). Not only that, but it helps keep fluids in your body so you can maintain hydration.

Your skin is made of three major layers known as the outer epidermis, the middle dermis layer, and the subcutaneous fat cells in the bottom layer (2). The epidermis contains melanocytes that give your skin color and its top layer sheds often (3). The dermis contains blood vessels, nerves, sweat glands, and hair follicles, with collagen holding this layer together (2,3).

The subcutaneous fat layer in the bottom layer of skin contains collagen and fat cells that keep your body warm and protect you from injury (3).

Nutrient-Skin Interactions

It’s vital to feed your skin from the inside since it needs certain nutrients to function well. For example, your skin needs vitamin C to help produce collagen (4). Collagen is important for skin elasticity and hydration, in turn helping the skin to appear and feel more youthful (5).

In the epidermis, the keratinocytes, which help secrete lipids and form a water barrier, play a role in the skin’s production of vitamin D with UVB light (3).

What are vitamins for healthy skin?

If you want to improve skin health, consuming antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables daily is one way. However, if you want to ensure that you receive a proper daily dose of such nutrients each day, then supplements can help. Read below to learn about what skin supplements can help you look and feel your best.

1) Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin typically found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes, to name a few. Because it helps with collagen production, vitamin C plays a role in supporting wound healing (6).

Along with collagen production, research shows that vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, acts as a photo protectant (7). In other words, it can protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays from the skin. In turn, it can reduce your risk of skin aging by working to lessen inflammation and stimulate collagen production.

2) Carotenoids

Carotenoids, a form of the fat-soluble vitamin A, is another skin-friendly vitamin you should add to your daily routine. Research shows that these antioxidant compounds such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, for example, also have photoprotective properties (8). Vitamin A belongs to the group of vitamins known as retinoids that help to strengthen the epidermis, protect water loss, protect collagen against damage, and promotes anti-aging effects (9).

3) Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is made in the epidermis layer of the skin after sun exposure (10). Besides this process, vitamin D is not found in many foods except for cod liver oil, cheese, egg yolks, beef liver, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon. Therefore, if you avoid dairy in your diet and/or find yourself indoors most of the time, then a vitamin D supplement may work best for you. Most adults should consume around 600 IU per day, but you may require a higher dose if your vitamin D levels are low (11).

4) Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin that can help protect the skin from UV ray cell damage (12). There are eight types of vitamin E, with alpha-tocopherol being the most commonly found form in the human body (12,13). Research shows that vitamin E may help people improve the appearance of burns, scars, and wounds (12). However, more study needs to be done to confirm findings of the skin health benefits of vitamin E. Most adults require at least 15 milligrams of vitamin E daily for optimal health (13).

Other supplements that can help protect the skin

Besides the vitamins listed above, there are a few other supplements that may support skin health.

Vitamin K: Topical application of the fat-soluble vitamin K can help support wound healing (14).

Zinc: Preliminary research shows that zinc may help to reduce symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions like acne or dermatitis (15). Research suggests that low levels of zinc in the body may increase the risk of atopic dermatitis (16). Therefore, further study may help to confirm if zinc supplementation could help lower the risk of developing this skin condition.

Selenium: Some research shows that selenium intake may help to reduce skin aging as well as lower the risk of psoriasis, acne, and atopic dermatitis (17,18).

Fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acid research shows that this anti-inflammatory compound may help reduce symptoms in skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis as well as provide skin protection from the sun’s UV rays (19,20).

It’s important to note that these supplements mentioned above may require more research to confirm their findings, but results so far are promising.

The bottom line on summertime skin supplements

Taking certain vitamins and minerals can help enrich your skin and protect it from the sun’s rays. However, it’s important, that just like with any supplement, you talk to your doctor first before starting any daily routine. And along with taking skin supplements, care for your skin in other ways such as topically using moisturizing creams and lotions, wearing sunscreen when sitting out in the sun for added UV protection, and drinking plenty of water each day to maintain hydration in the skin and body.


  1. National Institutes of Health (March 24, 2020) “Insights into skin formation.” NIH Research Matters,,basal%20(or%20inner)%20layer.
  2. Stanford Children’s Health (accessed May 25, 2021) “Anatomy of the Skin.”
  3. Yousef H, Alhajj M, Sharma S. (January 2021) “Anatomy, Skin (Integument), Epidermis.” [Updated 2020 Jul 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, Available from:
  4. Draelos Z. D. (2019). “An Oral Supplement and the Nutrition-Skin Connection.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology12(7), 13–16.
  5. Reilly DM, Lozano J. (2021) “Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty.” Plast Aesthet Res, 8:2.
  6. Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., & Voss, W. (2019). “A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study.” Nutrients11(10), 2494.
  7. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (updated March 26, 2021) “Vitamin C.”
  8. Petruk, G., Del Giudice, R., Rigano, M. M., & Monti, D. M. (2018). “Antioxidants from Plants Protect against Skin Photoaging.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity2018, 1454936.
  9. Zasada, M., & Budzisz, E. (2019). “Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments.” Postepy dermatologii i alergologii36(4), 392–397.
  10. Mostafa, W. Z., & Hegazy, R. A. (2015). “Vitamin D and the skin: Focus on a complex relationship: A review.” Journal of advanced research6(6), 793–804.
  11. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (updated March 26, 2021) “Vitamin D.”
  12. Keen, M. A., & Hassan, I. (2016). “Vitamin E in dermatology.” Indian dermatology online journal7(4), 311–315.
  13. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (updated March 26, 2021) “Vitamin E.”
  14. Pazyar, N., Houshmand, G., Yaghoobi, R., Hemmati, A. A., Zeineli, Z., & Ghorbanzadeh, B. (2019). “Wound healing effects of topical Vitamin K: A randomized controlled trial.” Indian journal of pharmacology51(2), 88–92.
  15. Dhaliwal,S., et al. (February 2020) “Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Inflammatory Skin Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence.” Am J Clin Dermatol., 21(1):21-39. doi: 10.1007/s40257-019-00484-0. PMID: 31745908.
  16. Gray, N.A., Dhana, A., Stein, D.J., and Khumalo, N.P. (June 2019) “Zinc and atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol., 33(6):1042-1050. doi: 10.1111/jdv.15524. Epub 2019 Mar 15. PMID: 30801794.
  17. Jobeili, L., et al. (November 2017) “Selenium preserves keratinocyte stemness and delays senescence by maintaining epidermal adhesion.” Aging (Albany NY), 9(11):2302-2315. doi: 10.18632/aging.101322. PMID: 29176034; PMCID: PMC5723688.
  18. Lv, J., Ai, P., Lei, S., Zhou, F., Chen, S., and Zhang, Y. (December 2020) “Selenium levels and skin diseases: systematic review and meta-analysis.” J Trace Elem Med Biol., 62:126548. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2020.126548. Epub 2020 May 20. PMID: 32497930.
  19. Thomsen, B.J., Chow, E.Y., and Sapijaszko, M.J. (September/October 2020) “The Potential Uses of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dermatology: A Review.” J Cutan Med Surg., 24(5):481-494. doi: 10.1177/1203475420929925. Epub 2020 May 28. PMID: 32463305.
  20. Balić, A., Vlašić, D., Žužul, K., Marinović, B., & Bukvić Mokos, Z. (2020). “Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases.” International journal of molecular sciences21(3), 741.
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