Often during a skin check appointment, I get asked about taking vitamin supplements to improve skin, hair and nails. Here are some tips when considering making a financial investment in over the counter purchases. First, my best advice is do some research… are there any scientific studies that support use of the supplement. How may subjects were in the study? Were they on any prescription for the condition in addition to the supplement?
Collagen in a pill or liquid form is usually from an animal source such as cow or pig. At the most basic form, collagen is a protein, and proteins are broken down by the acid in our stomachs. The amount of collagen absorbed and then converted is probably very little and unlikely to make dramatic improvements. Things that do protect collagen which is the scaffolding of our skin is Vit A. This vitamin is found in your topical retinols such as tretinoin and orange plant sources like sweet potato and carrots. Sun protection starting at an early age will also help protect your collagen.
A second supplement patients often inquire about is hair vitamins. Two of the most popular supplements are Viviscal and Nutrafol. While theses supplements will help with hair loss. They work best in conjunction with other prescription treatments for the hair loss such as Rogaine and PRP (plasma rich protein) or topical Steroids. It also depends on the reason or type of hair loss you are experiencing.
Third category we get questions on in the office, especially in the winter is “What can I take to make me stop itching.?” The best thing for dry itchy winter skin is hydration and barrier restoration with over the counter moisturizers and gentle cleansers like CereVe or Cetaphil. There is an or supplement that can help itching called L-Histidine which will increase natural moisturizing factor and hydration of that outermost layer of skin. This is helpful in patients who suffer from Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema. The dosing is higher than what a bodybuilder might take. Scientific studies show you need at least 4 grams a day.
So remember when it comes to those pricey skin supplements make sure there is good science behind the product, you can always bring it to the office with you to your appointment and we can look at those ingredients together.
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