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YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, OR MAYBE APPLY
Understanding which micronutrients are important for skin and nail health, and maintaining healthy levels of those nutrients, can help prevent some dermatologic conditions. It’s also beneficial if you already have skin conditions arising, you may be able to recognize a possible vitamin or mineral deficiency. This article is only intended as a starting point, it's always recommended to discuss any major changes with a medical professional you trust.
There are several micronutrients that play a role in maintaining skin health and preventing dermatological issues:
Vitamin A – Skin is a retinoid-responsive organ, able to readily absorb vitamin A when applied topically [source]
Vitamin B – There are 8 B vitamins which benefit skin health. Each of these vitamins are important for overall health but have specific roles for skin health, such as cell and blood health [source][source]
Vitamin C – The antioxidant properties of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health [source]
Vitamin D – A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that telomeres (the caps of genetic material on the free ends of DNA strands which shorten with age) were significantly longer in patients with the highest serum vitamin D levels, compared to those with the lowest … equivalent to five years of aging. [source]
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a fat-soluble, essential nutrient with anti-inflammatory properties. It may be beneficial at reducing UV damage to skin and at reducing the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. [source]
Vitamin K – Vitamin K can aid in your skin's healing process if it’s been compromised such as any cuts or bruises, and reduces inflammation, redness and swelling and can even benefit skin conditions such as eczema. [source]
- Zinc – Six percent of total body zinc is located in the skin [source]
- Selenium – Selenium is a mineral that helps certain antioxidants protect your skin from UV rays. [source]
- Potassium - An essential electrolyte in the body which helps control the volume of cells and helps the skin stay moisturized. [source]
- Additional minerals include magnesium, iron, manganese, silica, copper, and sulfur.
As studies and research continues in the field of micronutrients and skin health, new findings are revealed supporting older studies and also revealing new effects of these micronutrients in the field of dermatology. You can find many of these micronutrients ready to use in our specialty blended clays.
Parched. Headache. Fatigue. Muscle cramps…
Dry, itchy skin?
Often when you read about dehydration and the body, that last symptom isn't typically mentioned a lot, but it’s real. It wasn’t apparent to me until one warm, summer day when I was preparing for an upcoming marathon. There were many training runs, but it was on one of my longer training runs which lasted several hours on an August morning along the water in New York City. The day started cool but slowly started to warm up. My body was starting to warm up, so every once in a while when I felt parched I stopped for a drink of water. I knew there were water fountains on my route, so I only kept an electrolyte drink in the car. Over the course of 3 hours, I stopped twice to take a couple of big swigs of the electrolyte drink. With the sun beating down, and the water fountains conveniently available, I believed pausing for a few sips at each fountain would keep me hydrated. Wow, was I wrong!
Knowing the importance of electrolytes, I made sure I had an electrolyte drink in the car for that run. However, I underestimated the heat and the rate at which I was losing nutrients until it was too late. After the run, on the drive home, my legs and arms started to cramp, I was starting to develop a bad headache, dizziness, and I was so tired. Typical, yet more severe, symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance which I had experienced before. This time I noticed something different. I was very itchy and had localized dry skin.
After reading countless articles discussing the importance of electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium, and phosphate, I never saw much about itchy, dry skin. They discuss how these special minerals play important roles in:
- Making sure your muscles, heart, brain, other organs, and nerves work properly
- Balancing your body’s pH levels
- Transferring nutrients into your cells and removing waste from those cells
- Water balance within your body
Here’s a quick video for a high-level understanding of electrolytes:
What I didn't often see, is how important electrolytes are for the skin!
What does this mean for me?
Electrolytes, especially sodium, are essential to the homeostasis of the body and regulating the body’s fluid levels. As we sweat, an abundance of electrolytes are depleted with the water that’s cooling down our skin. The more electrolytes we lose, the less likely our body will function properly to maintain overall hydration. Your body starts misfiring and failing to perform at its optimal level, and the symptoms discussed above start to occur, including dry, itchy skin. Many suggest drinking more water, but my self-inflicted experiment proves that water alone is not enough. In fact, too much water can also be dangerous and cause over-hydration. Electrolytes become diluted in your body due to the excessive water and can cause a condition known as hyponatremia, which is when sodium levels drop too low.
Without electrolytes keeping our bodies hydrated, and our cells healthy and clean, our skin would be suffering from the inside out. Parched, due to the malfunctioning internal system. And let’s recognize that skin regulates body temperature, but it also protects every one of those other organs from the environment, bacteria, and the mother of all, the sun. We can be mindful of how important our skin is to us. It's a key indicator of what is internally occurring both physically and mentally. It is your first line of defense against any physical harm. So the next time you’re eating spinach, avocado, or a banana, feel comfort that those electrolytes are helping you restore your body’s shield to the outside dangers that are looking to do harm.
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