3 Skin Super-Nutrients You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

by | Jul 24, 2020 | Holistic Nutrition

As someone who’s suffered from ALL the skin issues over the years from eczema to cystic acne to dermographism, skin health is definitely one of my favourite topics to learn and write about! I’ve already written a few blogs on acne, and skin health in general (which I’ve linked at the end of this post), but this one is a bit different.

Today’s blog post is about three research-backed nutrients that help soothe inflammation, fight free-radicals, and increase collagen production to help your skin to look soft, supple, and vibrant! And the icing on the cake is that you’ve probably never heard of them! So, if you feel like you’ve tried *everything* for your skin, hopefully you’ll learn about a few new nutrients today to boost your skin care regime.

But before I get into the three nutrients, I want to mention that the purpose of this blog is just for fun and to share with you what I’ve learned. Our skin is a detoxification organ, so if skin issues are manifesting for you, they are likely a sign of imbalance with the digestive, intestinal, lymphatic, or even hormonal system.

It’s definitely also possible that stress, external irritants, and a whole bunch of other factors might be at play. So, it can take a lot more than adding just three nutrients to your diet to “cure” you of your skin ailments. Oftentimes, working on mindset and stress-reduction can have just as much, if not more, of a healing effect on the skin. Working with a holistic nutritionist (like me!) can be a great way to address any health imbalances you’re facing by looking at the WHOLE picture.

So with all that said, if you are looking for a few new things to try to enhance the vibrancy and texture of your skin, you’re at the right place. Let’s get into the nutrients.


Pronounced ass-ta-ZAN-thin, this potent antioxidant is what gives shrimp, crab, flamingos, and salmon that beautiful coral-pink colour. It’s a fat-soluble carotenoid (like beta-carotene, the pre-cursor nutrient to vitamin A that gives carrots and yams their orange colour) that has been shown in multiple studies to increase skin moisture, improve blood flow and texture, and plump up the skin to reduce wrinkles.

It sounds like a miracle nutrient, doesn’t it!? It accomplishes these tasks due to it’s highly anti-inflammatory properties. Compared to the other carotenoids, it takes the cake for the highest antioxidant activity against free radicals. It can be used topically, but also added to the diet to receive it’s skin-supporting benefits.

If you want to bring astaxanthin into to your skin care regime without breaking the bank, add it to your diet! Foods highest in astaxanthin are wild sockeye salmon, trout, crab, shrimp, lobster, and algae—ceviche, anyone? If eating seafood isn’t your thing, you can get a healthy daily dose of astaxanthin by supplementing with krill oil (which can be found in pill form without the fishy aftertaste). Since the antioxidant is fat-soluble, you’ll want to consume it with a source of fat like olive oil or avocado, which takes us to our next nutrient!



L-lysine is an essential amino acid that is often used as a natural remedy for cold sores! But don’t overlook this nutrient if you’re lucky enough not to get cold sores. It’s also extremely important for collagen production, which improves overall skin texture and facilitates wound healing. It also aids in the production of Carnitine, which converts the body’s fatty acids into energy. This ability to degrade fat may help reduce excess sebum, which is perfect for you if your skin texture is on the oily side.

Some of the best food sources of l-lysine include wild salmon, avocado, beets, green and red peppers, and legumes; however, you can also supplement with l-lysine at a pretty low cost. Personally, to really ramp up collagen production, I supplement with BOTH collagen peptides and l-lysine on a mostly daily basis. The research is pretty limited on the affect of l-lysine on acne, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence (I’ve experienced it firsthand) that l-lysine speeds up acne wound healing.

The last thing to note about l-lysine (and all other amino acids) is that unlike most vitamins and minerals, you can and should take amino acids on an empty stomach and away from other protein sources, to reduce competition for absorption. This goes for collagen peptides as well—combining collagen and protein powder in a smoothie is tempting, but you’ll actually absorb less when they are consumed together. It’s much better to eat them at separate meals.


Tocotrienols, or just “tocos” for short, are like a super-charged form of vitamin E. Tocos are a powerful antioxidant that fights free-radical damage, helping to keep the skin looking youthful and vibrant. They’ve shown promising anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects in multiple studies, which means that if you deal with redness, swelling, acne, etc., you might want to consider adding some tocotrienols to your pantry.

Food sources of tocotrienols include rice bran, olive oil, oats, buckthorn berry (another skin superfood), and flaxseed oil. If you live in Calgary, you can purchase tocotrienol powder at the Light Cellar. If you’re not in Calgary, you can find them online or potentially at a specialized health food store. The coolest part about tocos is that you can add them to coffee and other hot elixirs to add a luxuriously creamy texture—so they are a great coffee cream alternative!

BONUS: Vitamin D Sulfate

I know, I know. This blog post is called three skin super-nutrients you’ve probably never heard of. So why am I including a fourth nutrient that you’ve definitely heard of?! Because it’s worth your attention! Vitamin D, which is typically fat-soluble (meaning it should be consumed in fat for better absorption), also exists in a special water-soluble form. Why does this matter, you ask? Because being water soluble means easy transportation in the blood system, getting the vitamin D to where it needs to go quickly.

Vitamin D is one of the top skin health nutrients. It’s crucial for skin cell growth and repair, which means it’s great if you’re in your late 20s – 30s, and are concerned with aging. But how does one get this special form of Vitamin D? I’m glad you asked. For this nutrient, supplementation does not suffice. The only way to get enough vitamin D sulfate is by spending time out in the sun, without sunscreen on.

*Gasp!* Am I really recommending sun-tanning to help anti-aging? Yes, I am. I know that one of the top tips we often hear for anti-aging is actually staying out of the sun, but there is evidence that this isn’t the whole picture. In fact, some studies suggest that the real danger of being out in the sun is actually related to your intake of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (found in cooked vegetable oils, refined, and packaged foods). Similar to how some oils become rancid when cooked at high heat, causing inflammation and oxidative damage in the body, sunlight can have the same effect in the body of someone who consumes a lot of omega-6 rich foods.

The takeaway message here is to be honest with yourself. If you eat a lot of refined and packaged foods, the sun will cause oxidative damage and hyperpigmentation of the skin, so being sun-smart is important. However, if you eat real, whole foods most of the time, stay hydrated, and make sure you don’t burn, spending time outside on a daily basis without sunscreen may actually improve your skin texture.

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I’d love to hear what you thought of this blog! Let me know in the comment section below. If there is a topic you’d like me to cover in a future post, I’m always open to suggestions!

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