What does skin say about overall health?

As the largest organ in the body our skin reflects our health and nutrition status. The aging of the skin can be divided into 2 distinct processes:

  • Intrinsic aging - meaning aging in chronological terms which as a dynamic organ affects the skin in the same way as all internal organs
  • Extrinsic aging - is a result of external factors and the environment, especially chronic exposure to sun, UV radiation, smoking, alcohol consumption, pollution, sleep deprivation and inappropriate nutrition. 

While we can’t do much about intrinsic aging or genetics, there are many tricks to preventing skin aging from extrinsic causes. The best prevention strategy against the harmful action of free radicals is a well-regulated lifestyle (low carbohydrates, body care and exercise for the body), with low-stress conditions and a balanced nutritional diet, especially rich in foods rich in antioxidants. 

Researchers have found phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in abundance in vegetables and fruits act as antioxidants. 

Chemicals such as carotenoids, tocopherols and flavonoids, as well as vitamins (A, C, D and E), omega-3 fatty acids, some proteins and lactobacilli are considered agents capable of promoting the health and beauty of the skin. 


Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is not naturally synthesised by the human body. A proper diet to include rich sources of vitamin C is essential. The richest natural sources are fruits and vegetables. High vitamin C foods include guavas, bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, papayas, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, and snow peas. L-ascorbic acid can be used orally and locally for its benefits on the skin. 

Vitamin C is a cofactor that stabilises the structure of collagen. It also plays a role in iron uptake and increases the bioavailability of selenium. The most common skin manifestations that accompany vitamin C deficiency related to collagen synthesis. If during a skin examination keratosis of the hair follicles is identified (mainly on the upper arms) then you are likely deficient in C. And while it doesn’t so much exist in Australia, we’ve probably all learnt about deficiency of vitamin C causing scurvy which brings with it symptoms like frailty, skin lesions, bleeding gums, easy bruising or appearance of slow wound healing. 

You’ll notice that ascorbic acid is used locally in various cosmetic products such as anti-aging creams and for sunscreen formulations. A long-term study observed the effects of a combination of ascorbic acid and D-α-tocopherol (vitamin E) on UVB-induced epidermal lesions. The treatment was well-tolerated and could be used prophylactically against the dangerous effects of UV irradiation and skin cancer, according to the authors.


Vitamin E

The vitamin E is part of a group of 8 compounds called tocopherols. A tocopherol is an antioxidant. High amounts of tocopherol are found in vegetables, some vegetable oils such some types of meat. Vitamin E intake from natural sources works against collagen reticulation and lipid peroxidation, both of which are responsible for aging skin. 

Topically applied vitamin E is used to reduce erythema (skin redness), sun-burn, skin damage caused by UVB and photo carcinogenesis in most published studies. Vitamin E deficiency has been associated with a type of with dementia or seborrheic erythema, dryness and depigmentation of the skin in premature infants. Oral administration of vitamins C and E together with other photoprotective compounds in some studies dramatically increased photoprotective effects as they act synergistically.


Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a generic term for a large number of related compounds such as retinoids (retinol and retinal) and several provitamin A carotenoids such as β-carotene. These derivatives of Vitamin A, are very effective antioxidants and have photoprotective properties. 


β-carotene is the most prominent member of the group of carotenoids. Examples of fruits and vegetables containing β-carotene are the orange or yellow coloured ones - carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mango and papaya. As well as its antioxidant properties β-carotene may also act as a lipid-cleansing agent. β-carotene protects us from the sun by preventing the formation of UV-induced erythema (redness of the skin).

Retinol is essential for the growth, differentiation and protection of epithelial tissues and plays a role in reproduction. Retinol intake must come from food. Natural retinol is found in the liver, milk, egg yolk, cheese and fatty fish.


Vitamin D

In humans, Vitamin D acts as a prohormone and the human body can synthesise it alone by exposure to the sun. Skin is the primary site for UV-B-mediated synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3. Smaller amounts of vitamin D are derived from the consumption of food based on animal products such as fatty fish or egg yolk. Some products such as milk and cereals can be enriched with vitamin D. 

Skin is one of the key tissues of the human body’s endocrine system. Besides its role in calcium homeostasis (maintenance of balance) and bone integrity, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 is also essential for many physiological functions including immune response, inflammatory cytokine release and growth regulation. 

Vitamin D3 protects human skin cells from UV-induced cell death and apoptosis. With increasing age, the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D3 decreases and, consequently, the vitamin’s protective effect is low. Therefore, vitamin D and calcium supplementation are of particular importance among the elderly. An association between skin aging and levels of vitamin D3 is suggested.



Polyphenols, are a structural class of chemicals that are naturally presence in plants, have attracted the anti-aging research community over the last decade, mainly because of their antioxidant properties. Studies show their role in preventing various diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.


Polyphenols are found in fruit and herbal derivatives, such as fruit juices, teas and coffee. Vegetables, cereals, chocolate and dried legumes are also sources of total polyphenol intake. Laboratory studies performed on animals of various polyphenols such as green tea polyphenols suggested that these polyphenols combined with sun protection, increase the ability to protect the skin from the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation, including the risk of skin cancer.


Ubiquinol (coenzyme Q10)


 Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like endogenous substance that is mainly stored in the fatty tissues of the body. Good food sources of CoQ10 include: cold water fish, like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines and meats. It places a crucial role in the effective function of mitochondria, the energy powerhouse in the body.


Ubiquinol is also known as a powerful antioxidant compound. CoQ10 sources of nutrition include fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna), organs (such as liver) and whole grains. The amount of CoQ10 required by the human body can be obtained through a balanced diet, however supplements are often required particularly with cholesterol lowering medications. 


 Pre and probiotics


Gut integrity is the number one factor in maintaining skin health. Probiotics and prebiotics can be used daily to balance the gut microorganisms. The term probiotic is defined as ‘living microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate quantities, confer an effect on the health of the host’. The most commonly used probiotics in humans and animals are naturally occurring enterococci, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the intestinal tract.


A prebiotic is a non-viable food component that provides a benefit to the host’s health associated with micro-

 biota modulation. Oligofructose and other oligosaccharides are prebiotics that have a significant effect on the intestinal flora population, stimulating bifidobacterial populations. 

Similar to intestinal microflora, skin microbiology plays a beneficial role in skin health


Essential fatty acids 



EFAs (Omega 6 and Omega 3are essential for the synthesis of tissue lipids, play an important role in regulating cholesterol levels and are prostaglandin precursors. Larger amounts of linoleic acid have been associated with a lower probability of senile skin dryness and cutaneous atrophy (symptoms of skin aging), reduction of UV-induced inflammation, inhibition of wrinkle formation caused by chronic UV exposure and increased collagen synthesis.


Essential Fatty Acids cannot be synthesised by the human body and hence foods rich in these compounds should be regularly consumed. EFAs are present in many natural sources such as fish and crustaceans, linseed, hemp oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, leaf vegetables, nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, salmon and white tuna.  

As oils are vulnerable to oxidation be sure to choose a high-quality fish oil which has been correctly stored. 


**We know at Synergy Compounding that our customers care about what goes into their body. Talk to Mike and the team about the customised range of non-toxic skin products we have in stock.