Can an Oral Supplement Affect Skin Health?

The connection between nutrition and skin health has been highly contested, however, increasing amounts of research point to the validity of the impact of diet on skin.  Consuming a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, water, and antioxidants, may improve the appearance of skin, delay the aging process, mitigate acne breakouts, and ameliorate a variety of other conditions. As the body requires nutrients such as proteins, vitamin C, and vitamin E to build and repair tissue, the lack of vital vitamins and minerals may contribute to poor skin health and appearance. Anti-oxidants – such as beta-carotene and Vitamin A – found in fruits and vegetables can curb damage from free radicals, protecting the skin from environmental stressors and premature aging.

While eating a healthy diet is beneficial to overall health, the efficacy of consuming specific nutrients – such as vitamins C, E, and A –to promote skin appearance remains under investigation. Today, many companies market dietary supplements and products as skin health boosters without scientific evidence to back their claims. Nutritional supplements containing a range of ingredients from biotin and zinc to ashwagandha root powder are currently being sold under the presumption that an herbal or nutrient-dense pill can improve skin health. Research has yet to conclusively confirm the positive effects of such supplementation on the skin, however, a new study reveals promising results and invites further investigation.

Oral Supplements and the Nutrition-Skin Connection

In a recent clinical trial funded by Lumity – the company behind the new supplement – a team of third party researchers aimed to evaluate the effects of a commercially available oral supplement on skin appearance and function as measured by increased hydration and the reduction of wrinkles. As a secondary outcome, investigators examined the ability of the supplement to improve quality of life – including energy and sleep levels – as the product has an extensive list of purported benefits outside of skin health.

Available as a two-step formulation – a morning and evening capsule –  Lumity’s dietary supplement does not include caffeine, gluten, sugar, parabens, preservatives, or other noxious ingredients and claims to be “formulated with the purest and most effective ingredients blending the best of science and nature.” Morning pills are designed to boost energy and reduce tiredness, while evening capsules aim to naturally stimulate the release of human growth hormone and support the circadian rhythm. In addition to these benefits, the supplement is also said to assist in the breakdown of fat, stimulate the immune system, and promote overall mental and emotional wellness.

Effects of Oral Supplements on Skin Health

In the single-site, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 50 female participants aged between 35 and 65 were prescribed three morning and three evening tablets or placebo pills for a total of 12 weeks. The subjects all had mild-to-moderate photo-aging and a stable prescription medication for three months prior to enrollment; all nutritional supplements were ceased two weeks before the start. At baseline and in the following weeks, participants were assessed by a dermatologist and completed self-assessment for facial efficacy – including wrinkles, firmness, healing, hydration, texture, and overall appearance. Noninvasive assessments were conducted to assess skin hydration and facial wrinkle architecture. Quality of life metrics were gathered at weeks 4, 8, and 12 to determine whether the supplement had any impact on perceived life performance.

Published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the results of the trial revealed a 92% improvement in skin, hair, and nail health and 84% boost in overall mental and emotional wellness. Investigators found a statistically significant improvement compared to baseline in firmness, hydration, dullness, and overall skin appearance as well as a significant reduction in wrinkle breadth. Self-assessment results revealed improvement in healing, hydration, dullness, roughness, pigmentation, and overall appearance at week 8. According to researchers, participants who had been given the nutritional supplement reported waking up less, fewer colds, increased alertness and emotional balance, enhanced endurance, improved skin, and increased skin hydration.

The team of investigators concluded that the demonstrated appearance improvement and adjunct benefits of the Lumity formula may indicate the potential efficacy of oral supplements for enhanced skin health.

While this trial was notably funded by the company itself, there is little clinical evidence to support the beneficial impact of dietary supplements on skin function or appearance. Many factors can influence skin health – such as environmental stressors, sleep patterns, and exercise – making it difficult to target individualized concerns with standardized nutrient blends. Rather than ingesting a dietary supplement, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the ideal way of obtaining needed nutrients for optimal skin health. However, over-the-counter multivitamins and nutritional supplements may prove helpful in boosting nutrient intake for individuals who do not eat a balanced diet. Additional research is necessary to determine whether daily vitamin and mineral supplementation can positively influence skin health, and to further elucidate the nutrition-skin connection before such products can be recommended.