A Simple Supplement Guide
by: Sherika Tenaya
I am not above admitting that I oftentimes feel a certain amount of fearful trepidation and even annoyed bafflement at the seemingly endless array of shelves upon shelves of dietary supplements that adorn the wellness section of my local health food store.
With so many supplement options out there making all manner of claims, both factual and fictional, it is so much easier to simply avert my eyes and refrain from buying anything at all, in what can only be described as the silently contrite retreat of the decisively-challenged.
However, in this day and age, when environmental toxins are paramount and soil mineral content is being degraded to an astonishing degree, we must sometimes rely on a few extra supplemental additions to a healthy lifestyle and whole foods diet. In the interest of avoiding your own dubious day in the supplement section, I offer you three simple dietary supplements that will help you nourish your skin from the inside out.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil
First and foremost is fermented cod liver oil which is rich in two wildly healthful omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapenaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Unlike plain ol’ fish oil, fermented cod liver oil also contains the health boosting combination of fat soluble vitamins A and D.
These fatty acids are key for the 100 trillion cells in the human body, as they comprise the supremely important lipid membrane around each individual cell. Cell membranes not only hold the shape of the cell, they also handle the input of nutrients and output of waste products and even play a pivotal role in the cell’s production of energy - making possible all the vital chemical reactions the cell partakes in.
Fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation, which is the underlying cause of skin degradation. One of the ways they do this is by maintaining and nourishing the skin’s natural oil barrier. According to WebMD, “Without an adequate supply of EFAs [essential fatty acids], the skin produces a more irritating form of sebum, or oil, which can result in problems.”
As a happy side note, fatty acids have also been shown to bear major health benefits that are not skin related, including boosting brain regeneration and helping with depression and anxiety.
The combo of Vitamins A & D are also something to be excited about because these two fat soluble vitamins need each other in order to kick butt on disease and wreak enormous health benefits that go much further than skin deep.
The Weston A. Price Foundation gives the deets, “At least 2,000 genes, or nearly 10 percent of your genes, have been identified that are directly influenced by vitamin D, which in turn impact a wide variety of health issues, from preventing the common cold and flu to inhibiting at least sixteen different types of cancer. There’s even evidence linking vitamin D to the process of brain detoxification of heavy metals such as mercury.
Widespread vitamin D deficiency has also been strongly linked to the childhood epidemics of autism, asthma, and diabetes, both type 1 and 2. Vitamin A, which is essential for your immune system just like vitamin D, is also a precursor to active hormones that regulate the expression of your genes, and they work in tandem. For example, there is evidence that without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. But if you’re deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D cannot function properly either.”
And so you see, the widespread holistic benefits of fermented cod liver oil is staggering - with reports of this miracle supplement helping everything from arthritis to wound healing to increasing birthweight and even remineralizing teeth!
If you find yourself thrilled by the stunning non-skincare-related health benefits of fermented cod liver oil, know that I am just scratching the surface. Feel free to visit this well articulated blog that goes into much more depth on overall health benefits of this super supplement to fully titillate your fancy.
One thing to keep in mind is that not just any fermented cod liver oil will do. For one, don’t disregard the key first word: fermented. Fermented cod liver oil is a cool temperature, natural process that retains the fat soluble vitamins and beneficial oils that are oftentimes destroyed in the heat processing methods otherwise used.
Also, due to sketchy environmental stewardship of our oceans, fish can be highly contaminated with mercury and other metals, dioxins, PCBs and more. Purchase only from a reputable company that uses a process of filtration known as molecular distillation, which prevents rancidity and ensures the oil is contaminant free. I buy mine from here, where discounts abound for bulk purchases.
With the pronounced resurgence in popularity of bone broth, you have undoubtedly heard the word gelatin being discussed with dewy-eyed awe amongst the foodies of your community. Take heed, for it earns the rep.
Gelatin is great for the skin because it provides glycine and proline, two amino acids that are the essential building blocks for all-important collagen. Collagen is essentially the glue that holds our body together.
Sally Morell poetically describes the abundant benefits of collagen in her book Nourishing Broths, “In the form of twisted cables, collagen strengthens the tendons that connect muscle to the bone and the ligaments that connect bones together. As vast, resilient sheets, collagen supports the skin and internal organs, helps skin retain its youthful firmness, suppleness, and elasticity, and builds a barrier that prevents the absorption and spread of pathogenic substances, environmental toxins, microorganisms, and cancerous cells. As found in cartilage, collagen is the secret to well lubed and well cushioned joints.”
Interestingly enough, glycine, one of the aforementioned potent amino acid components of gelatin, has been shown to provide measurable improvements to sleep quality, which, as we all know, is imperative to looking AND feeling good. It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing! In this study, 3 grams of glycine given to volunteers before bed helped improve sleep quality and sleep efficacy, and had the additional benefits of “lessened daytime sleepiness and improved performance of memory recognition tasks.”
Natural dietary sources of gelatin come from skin and, most notably, bone broths. You can also buy a gelatin powder that comes in hydrolyzed form, which means that the protein is broken down into individual amino acids rendering them easier to absorb. It is a tasteless, easily dissolved powder that stirs seamlessly into any beverage.
I really like this brand as they have a high quality product and top notch standards for their grass fed animals, while also being economical. Again, buy in bulk from their website and save.
Evening Primrose Oil
Grown through the months of June through September, this lovely botanical blooms it’s lovely, eye-catching yellow flowers during the evening hours, giving this final skin supplement its name. Rendered from dark colored seeds that have been cold press extracted to maintain nutrient density, this oil should be refrigerated after opening to ensure it maintains its maximum shelf life of six to twelve months.
Full of essential fatty acids that are paramount to skin health and a proper composition of sebum (which is the skin’s natural and necessary oil barrier), as well as vitamins A, D, E and K,this soothing botanical nourishes the skin without stripping it. It is also said to boost blood circulation which helps augment new cell growth and is powerfully anti-inflammatory. It can be used both topically and internally. Topically, use it as a carrier oil or as an individual component to a skin healing face serum blend. For this reason, we have included it in our Urban Bloom Hand Cream. It blends especially well with essential oils of lavender and geranium as well as carrot seed.
Internally, it is said to give the body several vital constituents its needs to balance hormones in women, helping soothe painful or disruptive menstrual cycles as well as breast tenderness. For dosage, this guide by the Mayo Clinic makes a good reference point.
As always, cultivate self-accountability for your health, listen to your body and check with your doctor before taking any of the supplements mentioned to ensure that they will not interact with any medications you may be currently taking.
When it comes to supplementing, getting your nutrients from a whole foods diet is always the best way to go, but to get that extra boost and preserve optimal health and beauty, keep it simple. Your skin and your pocketbook will thank you for it.