• Nutrients and the Skin (part I)

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    By Howard Murad, M.D.

    Scientists and researchers have come a long way in their efforts to understand the properties and benefits of supplements in skin care. The use of vitamins and other nutrients to hydrate, normalize, protect, heal, condition and beautify the skin appears to be the wave of both the present and the future. Clearly, the internal use of vitamins is one of the most powerful weapons in the ongoing quest for younger, healthier, more attractive-looking skin.

    I’ve been recommending dietary supplementation to my patients since I began my practice in 1972. While completing my Dermatology residency, I worked as a pharmacist and have always believed that nutritional supplements benefit the skin, and promote overall body health. I’ve devoted years of research in the fields of nutrition and skin health. Why?… you may ask, is a pharmacist and dermatologist recommending vitamins and supplements to his patients? Why devote so much energy and time to nutrition when the clients have acne, wrinkles and sun damage?

    The answer is simple – the skin is an organ. It is the body’s largest organ, and it is attached to every other cell and organ in the body. This is the foundation of any type of professional skincare treatment. The fact that the skin is connected to every other organ in the body should be at the forefront of understanding in every estheticians mind, and the basis for thorough consultations.

    [...]When we treat the Epidermis with topical facial products, we address approximately 20 percent of the skin. The remaining 80 percent, the dermis, which contains the cells and connective tissue featuring collagen, elastin fibers, and blood vessels, needs to be addressed from the inside. The way to do this is through nutritious foods and added support through supplementation.

    It makes perfect sense – eat well, get better skin, but feeding the skin all the nutrients it need to keep cells and connective tissue –strong and well hydrated is not that easy. Research tells us that Americans are overfed, they are not necessarily well nourished. Even the 20 percent of Americans who make the effort to consistently eat the recommended minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day may not be getting the vitamins and minerals they think their healthy eating guarantees. The amount of vitamins available in foods depends on where they are grown, how fresh they are, how they have been stored, and how they are cooked.

    Did you know the “fresh” apple you buy at the grocery store has been picked, and stored, then shipped and stored, and after weeks, is finally on the grocery shelf? During the time it takes to get the apple to the store, it is losing its nutrient content. This means that even if we do consume fresh, preferably organic raw fruits and vegetables, we are still not gaining the full nutrient content as if we ate it right off of the tree.

    According to a recent survey commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), 58 percent of Americans acknowledge they do not eat a balanced diet on a regular basis. The American College of Nutrition reported that 46% of a family’s expenditure on food items went towards unhealthy fast food. In today’s fast paced world it’s a challenge to get all of the essential nutrients necessary to look good and feel good. So as an esthetician, what can you do?

    My vision of an esthetician is that of a healthcare provider. Think about the impact you have on your client’s health, what other professions provide the emotional care through healing touch? Or the topical care with skin smoothing and hydrating services? You can round out the emotional and topical care you provide by educating your clients on the nutrients necessary for your body’s largest organ – the skin. This is the internal care.(to be continued)

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