In the northern Alberta climate I call home, all the moisture in the air seems to disappear around the second week of October. (Possibly overnight, it feels that dramatic.) The sudden drop in humidity coupled with the cold temperatures results in very dry, sometimes red, and irritated skin. Our hands crack, our lips feel like sandpaper, and that tiny dry patch on our cheek is suddenly the size of a walnut.
Sound familiar? Read on!
At Optimum Health and Kolya, we have an incredible variety of skincare and nutritional solutions that you need in your corner as you face another Canadian winter, solutions that feed and soothe your skin, keeping it resilient, hydrated, and silky soft through till spring!
Our skin is truly incredible.
It is simultaneously an organ of protection, metabolism, and sensation. It is sensitive enough to communicate emotion through the softest touch, but resilient enough to be the only barrier between our internal organs and tissues and the outside world. The uppermost layer, the epidermis, is only about as thick as a sheet of paper, or 0.1mm! (1) Still, we count on it to protect us for a lifetime, all while being exposed to radiation, temperature and moisture fluctuations, and all types of toxic substances and microbes that could spell disaster if they entered the body.
Our Skin's Complexity Allows us to Support Its Function in So Many Ways
Because it has so many roles, it can be affected by many different systemic changes and external influences. This complexity allows us to support the skin’s wintertime needs in several ways.
Let’s begin within and address the nutritional needs of your skin.
What types of nutritional support are most critical during the winter months?
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids - omegas 3, 6, and 9 - sourced from fish, flax, or hemp, are vital for all your connective tissue, especially your skin. They are critical components of cell membranes, the intelligent physical barrier protecting every cell, allowing everything it requires entrance while keeping undesirables out. They are also essential to keep our blood vessels flexible and robust, to synthesize our hormones, and to produce new brain cells, to name a few (2).
In most cases, a typical North-American diet is deficient in omega 3’s, not 6’s. Dietary sources of omega-6 fatty acids most often come from vegetable or nut oils like safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and peanut. Walnuts, hemp, and canola also contain omega-6’s as well as omega-3’s.
Many Ways to Get Your EFAs
Omega-3 fatty acids are most abundant in oily fish, but vegetarian sources exist, like in walnut, hemp, and flax. Adding a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Neptune Krill Oil will regulate the inflammatory response everywhere in your body while providing a raw ingredient you require to synthesize hormones, build cell structures, and repair wounds. (3) Synergy-3 Optimum Omega is also a great option if your diet is generally deficient in healthy essential fats, providing omega 3, 6, and 9’s in an ideal ratio.
A Multi-Tasking EFA Superstar
Aura Inner Beauty’s revolutionary product Dew Drops is a vegan, full spectrum omega blend (3, 5, 6, 7 & 9) that can be applied topically, to deeply nourish, moisturize, and protect, as well as taken as an internal supplement, to provide critical nutrition and anti-inflammatory support from the inside, out.
Protect Against Trans-Epidermal Water Loss
Omega fatty acids are also a critical component of the intracellular material that, together with ceramides (waxy lipids) and cholesterol, form a sort of “mortar” around the “tiles” of your uppermost skin cells. This “mortar” protects your skin from trans-epidermal water loss, or TEWL. When the skin barrier is compromised, water passively leaves the tissues, and the skin becomes dehydrated and susceptible to infections and irritants (4). If your skin seems to become ultra-reactive in the wintertime, TEWL may be to blame.
Ceramides are Your Friend
Introducing a good source of dietary ceramides can assist in the healing of a compromised skin barrier. Plants contain the richest sources of ceramides, especially the bran and germ of wheat and rice. Spinach and beets contain some ceramides as well. Increasing your consumption of whole grains, dark leafy greens, and healthy fats this winter can help alleviate dry, itchy skin.
Silicon for Strength!
Silicon (the element) or silica (its ionic form) is a mineral critical for maintaining optimal skin strength and elasticity, so ensuring your body is getting enough is especially important in the wintertime. Silicon is required for the synthesis of new collagen fibres, so it is vital for all connective tissue. (5) It is also a key building-block of hair fibres, and is believed to reduce hair loss and increase its overall shine and resiliency. Our nails are also greatly affected by the presence or absence of silicon, as it is their main mineral component. (5)
The Type You Choose Matters
The main challenge with silicon supplementation lies in its tendency to be poorly utilized by our bodies. Choosing a silicon supplement made of Monomethylsilanetroil®, or MMST, ensures you are getting the smallest and most stable form of this important mineral. CanPrev’s Beauty line utilizes this superior form of silicon in their Silicon + Biotin formula, available in capsules or a delicious liquid formula.
Antioxidants are Everything
Another way to support your skin nutritionally, anytime of year, is to eat a diet rich in antioxidants. When our bodies use oxygen to make energy, we generate waste products called oxygen free radicals. (6) They must be neutralized by the donation of an electron from a friendly antioxidant, a process that occurs millions of times a day throughout your body. Substances in our environment like UV radiation, pollution, and heavy metals accelerate the production of free radicals, especially in the skin. (7)
Resveratrol for the Glow
You can help keep your skin at its most resilient during the harshest time of year by supplementing with a potent antioxidant like Optimized Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin of red grapes, and has been found to be a particularly protective antioxidant for skin cells. (8) Take two to four capsules per day with food to maximize your skin’s wintertime glow factor.
Structure and Resiliency from Collagen
Collagen is a protein ubiquitous in the human body, and a major component of the extracellular matrix of the dermis; its interwoven fibres just below the epidermis give our skin its structure and resiliency. (9) Supplementation with 1 g of a high-quality hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic molecule has been shown to increase the skin’s firmness and elasticity, while significantly reducing dryness, TEWL, and decreasing wrinkle depth in as little as twelve weeks. (10)
Fast-Acting BioCell Collagen
There are many kinds of supplemental collagen to choose from; one of our favourites is a patented molecule called BioCell Collagen, which combines collagen with hyaluronic acid and chondroitin, and can be found in our highly effective Opti-Joint formula. Take two capsules twice a day, ideally on an empty stomach with 250mg of Vitamin C (or orange juice), and see an improvement in your skin’s hydration, texture, and resiliency that you won’t believe is taking place during the winter months!
Marine Collagen is Ultra-Absorbable
Our favourite source of highly absorbable marine collagen comes in a liquid from Aura. Available in three delicious flavours - wildberry hibiscus, passionfruit, and new strawberry champagne - that can be added to any beverage, or mixed with Aura’s restorative nutrient powders for a superior internal skincare regimen.
These “inside-out” recommendations will give your skin the nutritional building blocks it needs to look and feel radiant all winter long. Part II of this blog will focus on beautiful organic skincare solutions to support your wintertime skin from the outside in.
1. Arda O, Göksügür N, Tüzün Y. Basic histological structure and functions of facial skin. Clin Dermatol. 2014; 32(1):3-13.
2. McCusker MM, Grant-Kels JM. Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4): 440-451.3. Saini RK, Keum YS. Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids: Dietary sources, metabolism, and significance - A review. Life Sci. 2018; Jun15(203):255-267.
4. Meguro S, Arai Y, Masukawa Y, Uie K, Tokimitsu I. Relationship between covalently bound ceramides and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Arch Dermatol Res. 2000;292(9):463-8.
5. de Araujo L, Addor F, Campos P. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol. 2016; 91(3): 331-335.
7. Wolfe U, Seelinger G, Bauer G, Meinke MC, Lademann J, Schempp CM. Reactive molecule species and antioxidative mechanisms in normal skin and skin aging. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(6):316-32.
6. Grüning NM, Rinnerthaler M, Bluemlein K, et al. Pyruvate kinase triggers a metabolic feedback loop that controls redox metabolism in respiring cells. Cell Metabolism. September 7, 2011.
8. Ndiaye M, Phillipe C, Mukhtar H, Ahmad N. The grape antioxidant Resveratrol for skin disorders: promises, prospects, and challenges. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2011;508(2):164-170.