Reviewed by Lisa Blohm, PhD, MSN, RN
Our skin is the window into the health of our bodies. Tired? Hello, dark circles! Stressed? You’ll see it in wrinkles, acne, worry-lines, and a dull complexion. Low in vital nutrients? Yes, your skin will show the symptoms of it!
Think that because you’ve switched to a healthier diet that you should be safe from nutrient depletion? We totally understand that logic — and in an ideal world, it would be completely accurate. Unfortunately, there are two factors that affect this.
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How Vitamin Deficiencies Affect Your Skin — And Why
First, our food’s nutrient density (even when we eat well) is lower than ever. The nutrients in our soil have been depleted thanks to heavy farming and use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which means that our food just doesn’t have the nutrients it used to.
Factor two is simply that for those of us who have switched to a more nutrient-dense diet, it takes a LOT of food to fully restore our nutrient reservoirs!
Our health is incredibly multi-faceted and finding solutions to health problems can be extremely complicated. But sometimes, there are easy, simple solutions to problems that have plagued us for weeks, months, and even years. Proper overall nutrition in your body plays a huge role in your health, as we all well know, and one of the first places we can look to for signs and clues is the skin.
Here are a few common skin conditions that often have nutritional root causes. Did you know that vitamin deficiencies can lead to the following skin conditions?
What Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Acne?
Acne is one of the most common skin complaints and it isn’t restricted to hormonal teens. Adult acne is increasingly common in America and can afflict anyone from age 18 to 55. For older women, the changes may be in relation to fluctuating hormones, but for most of us, the cause of this will be related to a sweet, fatty diet that’s low in vitamins and nutrients. Years of a diet that has very few vital nutrients can have long-term effects on your skin — even after changing to a healthier lifestyle. Those vitamins and nutrients need to be restocked in your body.
Here are a few of the vitamins that may help your body naturally resolve ongoing acne issues:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B2 and B6
- Vitamin C
The easiest way to tackle all of these vitamin depletions at the same time is to find a high-quality multivitamin. Remember, you’re looking to replenish stores, not just meet a daily minimum. Added bonus? All of the above are also good for brain function, immune health, healthier hair and nails — and so much more.
Vitamins For Spider Veins
These fine blue lines are branching arteries that lie just below the surface of your skin. They commonly appear on the face, neck, chest, but can also be found on the legs, arms, and back. While these will more commonly appear as we age, we also don’t need to just accept them as a ‘part of growing older’.
A lack of antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and glucosamine deficiencies are frequent culprits, but an increase in calcium may be helpful as well. Doctors also recommend an increase in vitamins B, C, E, and K. The easiest way to rapidly boost these nutrients is through supplementation, but you can also do this through intentional diet change.
Increase your intake of dark, leafy greens, berries, and brightly colored vegetables. Choose to drink green tea instead of coffee, and try to increase your daily water intake as well. Avoid processed foods!
What About Blisters?
Nope, these aren’t the kind of blisters you get from a pair of uncomfortable shoes or when you’ve been lifting too many weights or using a shovel. We’re talking about small blistered sores that appear for seemingly no reason – often around the mouth, genitals, or areas of sensitive skin. This kind of blister may mean that you’re low in Vitamin E — but we do recommend seeing your medical caregiver to be sure that it’s not an allergy or something more serious.
On the bright side, Vitamin E is an easy, affordable vitamin that also help reduce or resolve acne, and lessen the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
Vitamins for Skin Discoloration and Brown Skin Spots
We often think that brown skin spots are the natural result of getting older — but they are actually more to do with the health of your liver than your actual age. That’s why you’ll sometimes hear brown spots called ‘liver spots’ as well.
How to resolve this unpleasant discoloration? Increase your intake of vitamin B12 and antioxidants. Add more leafy greens, whole grains, citrus, and berries to your daily diet, and/or add some daily supplements to your morning routine to really boost these vital nutrients.
Supplements For Dry Skin
Dry skin is one of the most common and uncomfortable skin conditions we get to experience in the moody weather of the Midwest! Frigid temperatures and dry air take a toll on our skin each year. One of your biggest skin protectors will be Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), such as Omega 3.
EFA’s help keep your body moisturized and healthy, as well as the rest of your body. Think of EFA’s like the oil that keeps your engine running smoothly. Dry, itchy skin, cracking fingertips, peeling skin, small red bumps on the back of upper arms, eczema, and even dry eyes can all be symptoms of an EFA deficiency.
Fish oil supplements, eggs, fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are all great ways to increase your daily EFA intake. EFA supplements in a whole-food form are also a great (and more effective way) of providing your body with the high levels of EFA to restock your body with the nutrients it needs.
Vitamin Deficiencies and Eczema
Eczema is a common skin complaint that can be tricky to resolve. Allergies and/or a toxic overload in the body can cause eczema, so allergy testing and cleansing would be at the top of our recommendations.
But vitamin deficiencies can play a part as well. Vitamins C, B2, B6, zinc, magnesium, and essential fatty acids can all contribute to or be the root cause of an eczema problem. A strong multi-vitamin is a good place to start, followed by a switch to clean, organic eating. Removing chemicals from your home and laundry care products may also play a role in resolving persistent eczema and skin irritations.
Natural Support for Edema
Edema is the medical term for swelling. This happens when your small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues. Medications, infections, pregnancy, and many other medical problems can cause edema.
Not surprisingly, there are some vitamin deficiencies that can also play a role in edema. Vitamin B6, zinc, Vitamin C, and magnesium deficiencies can sometimes lead to or contribute to the development of edema. Supplementation and a diet change (especially a low-sodium diet with little/no processed foods) can typically greatly help or completely resolve the issue, depending upon the root cause.
Getting Rid of Hot Flushes
A hot flush of the skin usually begins in one area of the body and spreads to the extremities. A common example of a hot flush is a sudden warmth and reddening of the skin on the torso, spreading up through the head and down the arms. While this is most commonly associated with the hormonal changes of menopause, anyone (including men) can get these. A deficiency of Vitamin E, boron, magnesium, or calcium can all be possible causes. Allergies and anxiety attacks may also be underlying culprits.
We’d recommend a strong daily vitamin, and calcium-magnesium powder to mix into your water, power drinks, or protein smoothies. Just to be safe, we’d also suggest a trip to your medical doctor for a checkup.
Scaly Skin, Horny Skin, or Permanent Goose-Bumps
These types of skin conditions can vary greatly from individual to individual, but despite the wide array of manifestation, are all usually linked to vitamin deficiencies in one or all of Vitamins A, B2, and B7.
Scaly skin may occur on any part of the body, and appearance is rather like fish scales. Permanent goose-bumps may appear any area of the body, while red, horny skin will most commonly occur on high-pressure areas of the body, such as the elbows and knees.
Supplementation with a B-complex and Vitamin A is often very effective and is very affordable. Diet changes may help as well. Adding more beef, lamb, poultry, shellfish, eggs, dark leafy greens, whole grains, bananas, oranges, and brightly colored vegetables such a carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes will give you a powerful push of nutrients and help to resolve these unsightly skin issues.
Vitamins For Pale Skin
The most common cause of pale skin is anemia, or a deficiency in iron. Without iron, your red blood cells may become low in a protein called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without this oxygen flow, your whole body is seriously affected.
Anemia is more common in women than in men, as women lose a significant amount of the iron in their bodies through monthly menstruation. But, an iron deficiency can occur in anyone at any age.
Iron is found in dark leafy greens and in meats, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, and tofu. It’s also an affordable supplement, though you should be careful to increase your water intake when taking iron supplements because they may cause some minor constipation.
Oh — did we mention iron is also found in dark chocolate and raw cacao? You’re welcome.
Support for Jaundice (Yellowed Skin)
Jaundice can occur when we consume too little Vitamin C or B12. (But it can also be a sign of bigger health problems as well, so if you’re suffering from yellowing skin, see a doctor to check it out.) As we’ve said, when your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, those deficiencies often manifest first in our skin as the warning signs to catch our attention. We think you’d agree — yellowed skin is pretty noticeable.
Vitamin C is one of the least expensive and most easily obtained vitamins out there. We recommend choosing a Vitamin C option created with calcium ascorbate blended with ascorbic acid for best absorption. Also, add citrus, guava, kiwi, broccoli, dark green leafy veggies, berries, tomato, and cabbage to your diet to get more vitamin C naturally through your food.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Easy Bruising?
If you keep finding bruises and wondering how on earth you got them, you may have a deficiency in Vitamins C, K, or B2. These bruises can occur anywhere on the body, but most often appear on the arms and legs — the most common areas for us to get bumped.
A healthy diet change can usually resolve bruising problems within a couple of months. A powerful daily multi-vitamin is also helpful. The use of aspirin or other anticoagulants (blood thinners) can also cause bruising. This is a symptom that requires medical attention as it can also indicate problems with your platelets (the blood cells that cause blood to clot after an injury). Excessive bruising can also be a sign of more serious health conditions, so be sure to check it out with your doctor.
Resolving Dark Circles Under Eyes
The true culprit of these dark circles is almost certainly fatigue and/or stress. If you’re finding that you’re always tired, no matter how much sleep you get you may be deficient in one, some, or all of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Biotin, and folate)
A strong vitamin B complex and a calcium-magnesium powder could help to resolve fatigue. Adrenal support supplementation may also be necessary for those who have high-stress daily lives.
We do recommend that if you are experiencing chronic fatigue, to get advice from your medical provider.
Why Do I Have Red-Brown Skin Spots?
Especially if they are symmetrical — these spots can be a sign that you’re low in folic acid and/or manganese. Folic acid is especially important for moms-to-be or those who are hoping to become pregnant soon. Folic acid can be obtained through diet changes, but we recommend supplementation as well. Folic acid is easy to absorb, and you can restock your body’s supply quickly with a high-dose vitamin.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Muscle Spasms and Tics?
You need more zinc! This often-overlooked little nutrient is actually a common culprit lurking behind many skin problems, including coarse and brittle hair, acne and eczema, mouth ulcers, dandruff, and more.
Zinc and B12 deficiencies directly affect our muscles’ ability to function correctly. For some of us, this manifests in muscle spasms, commonly around our eyes and in our eyelids.
Good news? This is almost always an extremely quick fix. Most people see improvement within a couple of days of supplementation and complete resolution in a few weeks.
Smoothing Out Coarse, Brittle Hair
Zinc, vitamin A, and calcium deficiencies are all likely underlying causes for dry, coarse hair. Signs include split ends, broken hair strands, and rough hair texture.
A vitamin C deficiency can manifest in rough, corkscrew hair growth. Inadequate vitamin C is also known to contribute to the development of hyperkeratosis pilaris, as the follicles become damaged when collagen formation is impaired.
Best bet? Healthy diet and a powerful multivitamin.
The Key? Getting Ahead of the Issues Before They Start!
Prevention is, and will always be, better than a cure. Having a clean diet and a daily multivitamin that works to keep your body stocked up with the nutrients it needs to function well will be extremely helpful in keeping your skin looking beautiful and functioning well (that goes for your whole body too!)
We also recommend that you opt for a routine metabolic panel each year when you go in your for your routine check-up. These routine blood panels are typically covered through insurance, and can offer some valuable insights into what common vitamins and minerals you may be low or deficient in.
We’re Always Here To Help!
Have some skin concerns that you think may be related to vitamin deficiencies? Consult a certified Wellness Consultants for advice and support using our Live Chat feature in the lower right corner of your screen!