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Managing skin health

How do I manage my skin health?

Vitamins, Minerals and other Supplements

The skin is the body’s first barrier against infection and other diseases, including those caused by exposure to the sun. Connected to blood vessels and sweat and oil glands and nerve endings, it regulates temperature and body fluids. A healthy skin is smooth, unblemished, without age-related wrinkles, neither too oily or dry, nor too warm or cold; it reflects the health of all the organs beneath which it protects. The skin thus requires care from both outside and inside.

A healthy diet of course should be the main attention for keeping skin healthy. The daily supplements--the vitamins, including vitamin C, and minerals-- associated with maintaining good general health are recommended in addition, especially in cases where the diet is not well balanced or when skin problems occur. Probiotics, which supplement the gut with healthy bacteria, are also recommended to maintain healthy skin. Amino acids, responsible for every metabolic process in the body, including supplying nutrients to the skin, taken orally strengthens tissue and maintains smooth and elastic skin, according to some studies.

Many herbs containing minerals, anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids--from green tea and ginseng to rose hips--are cited for their properties to cleanse and heal the skin, but there is little scientific research to support the claims. Researchers agree the ideal way to get the nutrients for the skin is simply eating a healthy, balanced diet, and protecting the skin from pollution and long exposure to sunlight.

For external care of the skin, a number of medicated and cosmetic products are marketed: derived from vitamins (Vitamin C to reduce sun damage, E for anti-wrinkle, vitamin A for the maintenance and repair of the skin, and K for reducing under-eye circles, for instance), and Collagen, the most abundant protein in the skin and which diminishes with aging. (Collagen is also marketed in drinks, but the benefit is far from proven, according to current research.)

For centuries the gel of the fleshy leaves of Aloe vera plant has been applied to the skin to nourish it and to reduce burning sensation from exposure to heat and the sun; the rich moisture-laden gel has also shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola), a plant native to India and known as Indian pennywort, is a well studied plant whose extract has been proven in wound healing, reducing skin scars and blemishes, healing small wounds and burns,  and increasing skin moisture.

Please consult your physician if you must take supplements.

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