Four Nutraceuticals for the Skin

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Like all of our organs, the skin must be supplied by nutrients to continuously grow and divide. Both in health and in disease, certain nutraceuticals have been identified by researchers and medical professionals as being supportive to the skin. Interest for studying nutraceuticals is still just emerging within the scientific field, and we are only beginning to understand the roles that some nutraceuticals play in our skin. Below, some of the studied foods and supplements are discussed for their skin-savvy abilities.

Green Tea

Dietary flavonoids, like the catechins contained in green tea, are believed to be anti-inflammatory and potentially protective against sunburns.[1,2]

In a small clinical trial, researchers found that the green tea catechins and metabolites are bioavailable in the skin as well as in the gut, suggesting that compounds absorbed from the gut can travel to the skin.[1] This finding was supported in another small human trial, which found that orally ingested green tea catechin metabolites were seen in human skin and decreased the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation exposure when compared to those that did not ingest green tea.[2] These findings warrant further research into the relationship between gut and skin compounds and mechanisms by which green tea catechins play a role in photoprotection.

One study found that after short-term green tea consumption, skin oxygen tension improved.[3] Skin oxygen tension is a measurement of the oxygen content in the skin’s blood vessels. Improved skin oxygen tension indicates improved oxygen flow to the skin, which is believed to support overall skin health. However, more studies are needed to understand how improved skin oxygenation may improve the skin in health.

Other studies assessing green tea catechins for their protective effects against ultraviolet radiation did not find significant changes to inflammation biomarkers after green tea catechin consumption.[4]

Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is known to contain phenolic and polyphenolic compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have assessed these phenolic and polyphenolic compounds for their antioxidant activity and roles in inflammation. One such compound is olive oil’s polyphenol tyrosol, which was found to protect skin cells from ultraviolet radiation-induced cell death.[5]

In a study of mice, olive oil administration was found to improve wound healing of pressure ulcers via the reduction of oxidative damage, thus improving inflammation.[6] Another trial studied the phenolic compound oleocanthal, which researchers assessed for its anti-proliferative activity against human melanoma cells in the laboratory.[7] The role of oleocanthal for cancer in the human body is unknown as laboratory cells are different from cancers in the body. Nevertheless, these early findings warrant further investigation into the role olive oil may play in cancer therapy.[7]


Fermented milk, or yogurt, has been studied by researchers for its effects on skin hydration and the circulating levels of phenols in the body.[8-10] One study showed that consumption of yogurt containing beneficial probiotics prevented skin dryness.[8] The authors of this study also concluded that gut bacteria produce phenols that cause the skin issues and that consumption of prebiotics and probiotics improved both skin and gut conditions.[8]

Another study found that consecutive consumption of prebiotic and probiotic yogurt benefited the skin without increasing dryness and decreased levels of phenols produced by gut bacteria phenols in healthy adults.[9] A third study found that consecutive intake of prebiotic and probiotic yogurt prevented skin dryness.[10]

Collagen Peptides

Collagen peptides, taken as an oral supplement, have been shown to improve skin barrier function.[11] Researchers investigated the effects these peptide supplements have on skin hydration and the collagen network.[11] The results showed that the collagen density increased significantly after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of supplementation.[11] Thus, the researchers suggested that oral supplementation with collagen peptides may improve signs of skin aging.

Other studies have found that oral collagen peptide supplementation may improve wound healing, may improve skin recovery after fractional photothermolysis treatment, may improve skin elasticity, may increase sebum production, may reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles, may enhance collagen production, and reduces the severity of cellulite in skin.[12-16]


Like green tea, olive oil, yogurt, and collagen peptide supplements, nutraceuticals are becoming more rigorously evaluated for their possible beneficial effects on skin parameters like skin hydration, wrinkles, and skin collagen synthesis. It’s safe to say that studies are underway and building the science behind the consumption of these healthy foods for skin wellness. And the best part? They’re delicious too.

To learn more about the important vitamins for skin health, read here.


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