13 Essential Vitamins For Better Skin

Most discussions around what we eat usually focus, one way or another, on losing weight. However, your skin, as your largest organ, sorely needs constant feeding and nourishment to keep it healthy, happy and glowing.

In this article, we’ll get a bit geeky and dive into the kinds of vitamins that are critical for a healthy skin. We’ll cover the comprehensive list of the 13 essential vitamins and most importantly, we’ll cover the natural foods you should be eating to maintain a healthy balance of all these nutrients.

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are the chemical compounds, required in small quantities, to perform and maintain various body processes. Not only are vitamins critical to the body, but when they're deficient, the shortfall can actually lead to disease. Also important is that our bodies don't naturally synthesise vitamins so we need to rely on our diet to fulfil our vitamin requirements.

There are essentially two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins require fat as a mediator to get absorbed and stored in the body. As these vitamins are fat-stored, they remain in the body for a prolonged period of time and have fewer chances of deficiency. The classic examples of fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.

    Water-Soluble Vitamins are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and leave the body relatively quickly. As these vitamins deplete rapidly, they carry a high risk of deficiency if not replenished regularly. Examples of water-soluble vitamins are Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B4, B6, B7, and B9.

    Now let's get started on our list and review the most incredible, yet surprising skin health benefits of these 13 essential vitamins, all backed by scientific and medical research.

    1. Vitamin A

    Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and one of the most important micronutrients best known for skin health. Vitamin A can be found in animal food sources such as liver, kidney, full-fat dairy, and eggs. Besides animal sources, plant-derived vitamin A found in carrots, spinach, apricot and sweet potatoes.

    2. Vitamin C

    Vitamin C is one of the essential vitamins that function as a health treasure for the skin. It helps protect against cellular damage, repairs damaged skin and heals skin wounds. This vitamin is rich in antioxidants and fights against free radicals, which otherwise damage skin and cause disease and ageing. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the body’s natural collagen production, a protein that promotes skin repair and resilience, making it appear more youthful. 

    Natural food sources rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits like lemon, oranges and lime, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and spinach.

    3. Vitamin D

    Vitamin D, also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, is a fat-soluble and essential micronutrient that plays its role in skin cell growth and regeneration. It gets its nickname because as little as 15 minutes in the sun can be enough to fuel up your vitamin D levels.

    Due to its antimicrobial and cell growth properties, Vitamin D enhances the healing process of skin wounds and even has a positive effect on the prevention of acne.

    With less sun exposure, you can maintain your Vitamin D levels from food sources like fish liver oil and the flesh of fatty fish. 

    4. Vitamin E 

    Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, rich in antioxidants, that fights free radical injury and subsequent skin ageing. Vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory and so reduces skin inflammation due to infection, trauma or injury. 

    Best sources of Vitamin E are sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, corn oil, spinach, broccoli, soybean oil, kiwifruit, mango, tomato, and raw spinach.

    5. Vitamin K

    Vitamin K is also known as a coagulation vitamin as it plays a vital role in the body’s blood clotting mechanism. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help repair and protect the skin from things like skin ulcers, scar marks, stretch marks, pigmentation spots, and dark circles under the eyes.

    Best sources of Vitamin K are green vegetables like broccoli and kale.

    6. Vitamin B1 

    Vitamin B1 is the first micronutrient in the Vitamin B complex group, and it possesses exceptional skin health-boosting properties. Vitamin B1 keeps the skin nourished, hydrated and plumped. It's rich in antioxidants and a deficiency can cause skin hypersensitivity, making skin prone to inflammation, acne and dry and flaky skin.

    Natural foods high in Vitamin B1 include cauliflower, potatoes, eggs, oranges, asparagus, pork, brewer's yeast, nuts, bran and grains.

    7. Vitamin B2

    Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin, is another water-soluble vitamin that helps prevent skin ageing, mainly in two ways. Firstly, its antioxidant properties fight against free radicals. Secondly, Vitamin B2 is important in the body’s collagen production, which gives youthfulness to the skin by enhancing skin tautness and resilience. Studies have shown that a deficiency in this vitamin can cause dry, cracked, itchy and inflamed skin, especially around the mouth. 

    The natural food sources rich in Vitamin B2 include meat, grains, green vegetables, and poultry.

    8. Vitamin B3

    Vitamin B3, also known as Niacin, is known for enhancing general skin health. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and fights against skin conditions such as acne and eczema. It also helps smoothen skin, shrink open pores, reverses signs of ageing, reduces hyperpigmentation and protects against ultraviolet rays.

    Best natural food sources for Vitamin B3 are fish, poultry, legumes, green vegetables and dairy.

    9. Vitamin B5

    Vitamin B5, also known as Pantothenic Acid, is another member of the Vitamin B complex group that possesses antioxidant properties that combat the appearance of ageing. 

    Best natural food sources rich in vitamin B5 include green vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes, grains, beans, nuts, grains, eggs, meat and dairy products.

    10. Vitamin B6

    Vitamin B6 is water-soluble and a skin-friendly vitamin. It helps in collagen production that boosts skin flexibility and skin strength. It also nourishes, hydrates, and plumps the skin. Being water-soluble, Vitamin B6 can deplete rapidly. Any deficiencies in this vitamin can lead to rashes, dry and cracked skin.

    Best natural sources for Vitamin B6 are beef, fish, eggs, beans and non-citrus fruits.

    11. Vitamin B7

    Vitamin B7, also known as Biotin, helps keep the skin hydrated and plump by regulating cellular fatty acid metabolism. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that heal skin rashes, acne and fungal infections. Vitamin B7 maintains skin moisture and hydration and so its deficiency can lead to red, dry, and flaky skin.

    Natural foods rich in vitamin B7 include broccoli, tomatoes, grains, nuts, fish, mushrooms, liver, eggs, almonds, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

    12. Vitamin B9

    Vitamin B9, also known as Folate Acid, is an essential vitamin best known by its generic name, Folic acid. It plays a crucial role in cell growth, production, maturation, and differentiation, helping to maintain healthy skin cell turnover. Vitamin B9 is best known for its relieving effect on chronic inflammatory skin conditions.

    Best natural sources of Vitamin B9 are spinach, beans, grains, asparagus, oranges, bananas, and eggs.

    13. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 It is the last, but not least, member of the Vitamin B complex that helps regulate and maintain skin health. This vitamin is rich in antioxidants and prevents age-related skin problems. It also fades skin pigmentation, dark spots and acne.  Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and can develop a deficiency if not taken regularly. Lacking Vitamin B12 can cause skin problems, such as hyperpigmentation, vitiligo and psoriasis.

    Best natural sources of Vitamin B12 are poultry, dairy, salmon, shellfish, liver and meat.

    As you can see from the food recommendations in this list, a healthy, clean diet with as much variety as possible will give you all the vitamins you need. We are not firm believers in using vitamin supplements. Your body will draw what it needs from the foods you eat.

    If we summarize all the foods mentioned in this article, we get this list: lemons, oranges, limes, bananas, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, grains, almonds, sweet potatoes, pork, shellfish, liver and meat.

    As you can see, it’s really hard to go wrong, so long as you eat clean and healthy and add plenty of variety to your diet.