THE NITTY GRITTYLooking your best is not just a vanity issue. When your skin is taut and hydrated, it means that your collagen production and circulation are all working and functioning well. This is important, as collagen production also supports joint health, while circulation is clearly tied to heart and cardiovascular health. Key nutrients for supporting collagen production include vitamin C, manganese, and the amino acids proline and glycine. Vitamin C is best known for its role in the synthesis of collagen.1 Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is used as a structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. A deficiency of vitamin C leads to the scurvy, which is characterized by insufficient collagen production. The mineral manganese is a little-known antioxidant that not only fights free radical damage but also supports collagen production. Specifically, manganese is needed by the enzyme prolidase, which supports the production of proline, a collagen-forming amino acid.2 In addition to proline, the amino acid glycine is another component of collagen. Like all amino acids, glycine is a precursor to protein. And while most proteins only contain a fraction of glycine, collagen consists of a whopping 35 percent glycine. Glycine and proline are needed to form collagen’s helix structure.3-4 Finally, the amino acid lysine is also a key component of collagen. Plus, lysine is widely regarded for treatment of unsightly cold sores. In a study published as far back as 1978, lysine appeared to suppress physical symptoms of the virus associated with cold sores.5 A later study supported these findings, with lysine supplementation reducing cold sore outbreaks by an average of 2.4 a year.6 B vitamins such as B6 and B12 are critical for the metabolism of these collagen-building amino acids. Plus, niacin (B3) support healthy circulation and has skin-specific benefits, including photo-protection.7-8 Similarly, the antioxidant glutathione not only provides additional free radical fighting protection but also helps maintain optimal cardiovascular function.9-10 Lastly, the B vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and biotin have incredible skin benefits overall. In addition to also supporting amino acid metabolism, B2 deficiency can take its toll on your skin, resulting in dermatitis and cracking of the skin around the mouth and vertical cracks on the lips.11 Biotin supports overall skin health but may be better known for promoting gorgeous hair and nails. On the skin front, biotin has been shown to treat cradle cap.12. Similarly, biotin use has also been associated with improving nail strength and hair quality and texture.13-14 Taking care of yourself is nothing to apologize for. Looking your best always starts with feeling your best.
References: 1. Hinek A, et al. J Dermatol Sci. 2014 Sep;75(3):173-82. 2. Muszynska A, et al. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2000;52(2):149-155. 3. Szpak P. J Arch Sci. 2011 Dec;38(12):3358-72. 4. Nelson DL, et al. Principles of Biochemistry (4th ed.). 2005. New York: WH Freeman. pp. 127, 675-7, 844, 854. 5. Griffith RS, et al. Dermatologica. 1978;156(5):257-67. 6. Griffith RS, et al. Dermatologica. 1987;175(4):183-90. 7. Damian DL. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Apr;9(4):578-85. 8. Chen AC, et al. N Engl J Med. 2015 Oct 22;373(17):1618-26. 9. Kugiyama K, et al. Circulation. 1998 Jun 16;97(23):2299-301. 10. Arosio E, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2002 Aug;77(8):754-9. 11. Blanck HM, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Aug;76(2):430-5. 12. Messaritakis J, et al. Arch Dis Child. 1975 Nov;50(11):871-4. 13. Boccaletti V, et al. Pediatr Dermatol. 2007 May-Jun;24(3):E14-6. 14. Scheinfeld N, et al. J Drugs Dermatol. 2007 Aug;6(8):782-7.