Use of Vitamins, Retinol and Food to Protect Your Skin

Use of Vitamins, Retinol and Food to Protect Your Skin

What does damage to your skin? Free radicals do damage to your skin, which are derived from oxygen, also known as oxidative damage. You need to be aware of the appropriate vitamins, retinol and food sources to protect your skin from free radical damage.

When a cell has a high level of free radicals present, called oxidative stress, this leads to the production of chemicals that create inflammation within the cell (source: Dr. Perricone’s 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health and Longevity, 2006, pp. 6-7). This inflammation has a long life and causes most of the cellular damage that leads to ageing and age related diseases.Free Radicals - Wikipedia

Antioxidants are reducing agents, which limit oxidative damage to biological structures by passivating them from free radicals (using a light coat of a protective material). Fortunately our bodies have built-in defense mechanisms that fight against free radicals and inflammation by creating a variety of antioxidants within our amazing body (endogenous antioxidants) that suppress or alter free radicals. Another way to obtain antioxidants is through exogenous means, namely through various nutritional supplements and our diet.

5 Golden Rules

Before I delve into the key vitamins, retinol use and food sources to protect you skin, let me remind you of the 5 Golden Rules to preventing damage to your skin….please refer back to my page on Top 10 Tips for Healthy and Younger Skin by clicking here.

1. Limit your SUN exposure to between 15 to 20 minutes a day (this will depend on the season and should be enough to give you the vital vitamin D you need). The sun is the source of all life on this planet, but you MUST cover up to prevent skin cancer, sunburns and other damage caused by excessive sun exposure.

2. Stop SMOKING. We all know it is bad for your health, your appearance and your smell, so why not start a habit to stop doing it sooner rather than later?

3. Manage the STRESS in your life. Stress, if not managed, will eat away at your mind, body and soul, like a parasite until one day you look in the mirror and you see someone that looks 30 years older than you really are, or you are constantly ill because your immune system has stopped fighting for you, as it has nothing else to give! There are plenty of relaxation tips out there, try different things and work out what suits you best.

4. Recreational DRUGS and ALCOHOL. Life is all about balance and moderation. You may look and feel great now, but believe me it will all catch up with you as you approach your 40s and on. So if you care about how you look and feel and how long you want to be on this precious world to enjoy with your loved ones, then consider these vices in moderation!

5. DO get plenty of quality SLEEP and HYDRATE often. Quality sleep will help you to destress, even learning to meditate for 10 minutes before bed is better than doing nothing. Hydration, through drinking water will help you flush toxins out of your skin and body and prevent or limit free radical formation.

What Vitamins Protect Your Skin?

There are many forms of ‘exogenous’ antioxidants on the market that are used to protect and slow down the ageing process of our skin, but I will cover those that are readily available and most popular. Please aslo refer to one of my posts that refers to:  WHAT ANTIOXIDANT SERUM TO SELECT by clicking here.

VITAMIN C (L-ascorbic acid, L-ascorbate): is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be stored in the body, so humans need to consume adequate amounts of vitamin C each day. Excess vitamin C in our system is excreted each day. Deficiency in vitamin C is very rare in the developed world. but it can lead to the onset of scurvy and if not treated is fatal.

As an effective antioxidant it plays an important role as a connective tissue regenerator and in maintaining proper immune system function. Vitamin C has been shown to help modulate high levels of cortisol brought on by stress with superior anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C in its water soluble form can be unstable and irritating to the skin and for it to be effective on the dermis of ageing skin it is best used in its ascorbyl palmitate form (vitamin C ester) which has increased levels of fat-soluble properties and found to have increased both collagen and elastin production ((source: Dr. Perricone’s 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health and Longevity, 2006, pp. 96-98).Supplements

VITAMIN E: is a fat-soluble vitamin and is highly unstable when applied topically and used alone can cause more harm than good, e.g. pigmentation of the skin!. Hence most pharmacists will advise to use this vitamin in combination with other products, especially vitamin C.

Vitamin E is a prominent antioxidant in the fatty, or lipid, compounds of our body, such as cell membranes and cholesterol-transporting lipoproteins. It is one of the most critical antioxidants for reducing or preventing oxidation in lipids, which can lead to their degradation—particularly in cell membranes, the outer wall of cells. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E helps to manage the bodies’ level of oxidative stress. If the level of oxidative stress gets too high, we may not be able to prevent or protect against cell damage.

VITAMIN D: as mentioned under my Golden Rules above, we do not want to completely avoid exposure to the sunlight because it is this exposure to the sun’s UV light that helps our body produce its own vitamin D, which has been beneficial to reduce the risks of colon, breast and prostate cancers and not to mention the vast amount of studies that have shown that the right dose of vitamin D (which will vary from adult to adult) will help to maintain healthy bones, prevent loss of calcium and muscle strength.

VITAMIN A: is a fat soluble vitamin and is vital to good health such as fights inflammation, provides better eye health, boosts immunity, and fosters cell growth that is needed for maintaining healthy clear skin. To this day however, there isn’t a single anti-ageing product on the market that compares to the efficiency and cost effectiveness of good quality ‘topical’ vitamin A. There are various forms that topical vitamin A comes in and the main one used is Retinol.

RETINOL: is probably the most common form of vitamin A available on the market and is much weaker than retinoic acid (the latter should only be prescribed under direction from your doctor due to its side effects if not monitored). Retinol, and indeed all forms of retinoids, such as zorac and retinaldehyde, increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, cause flakiness and irritation.

Nevertheless, retinol has helped to reduce uneven skin pigmentation such as freckles and age spots. It has also helped, such as in my personal circumstances, to reduce pore sizes, acne outbreaks and increase the effectiveness of exfoliation. I love this form of vitamin A, as now in my older years it has helped with my fine lines…but it is not for everyone, I suggest you consult a skin specialist to work through a program to help you address your needs.

Food Sources to Protect Your Skin

Nature provides its own source of antioxidants, which work extremely well wen used in combination with topical antioxidants mentioned above to keep your skin looking and feeling rejuvenated. What I will provide you below is barely touching the surface, so do your homework and consult a professional to design a regime suitable to your lifestyle. Antioxidants

Also keep in mind that cooking can destroy some of the antioxidant levels present in food so minimise cooking time or where possible eat raw, namely fruit and some vegetables.


  • Berries (all varieties)
  • Red grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado


  • Broccoli
  • Artichoke
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Celery


Green tea and normal black tea



  • Small red bean
  • Red kidney bean
  • Pinto bean
  • Black bean
  • Various nuts



Please feel free to leave me your comments or suggestions below. I look forward to hearing from you!

To your health and happiness!

Cheers Gina








4 thoughts on “Use of Vitamins, Retinol and Food to Protect Your Skin”

  • It is really amazing how we can protect are skin just by the things that we do or are expose to on a daily basis. Diet plays a very important part in the overall care of our skin. There are many super foods that are there that can do a whole lot of good for our skin.
    I have also written and article on taking care of the skin. Your post is well detailed and has a lot of great information.

    • Thank you for your comments Norman. Where can I read your article? It would be interesting to read how well the topic of food and general skin care can work wonders for how we look and feel…

  • Interesting article on supplements for skin. Your 5 Golden Rules really help to streamline the important things we can do for our skin. I am not very familiar with Retinol – can we acquire it through natural food? Also you mentioned red fatty fish – do you mean salmon? Or are there other types that I can look out for? Thanks for this article!

    • Thank you for your comments Lily

      Retinol is what is applied topically to your skin, such as creams rich in vitamin A, although one can acquire ‘retinoids’ naturally through eating foods rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Foods such as carrots, broccoli, spinach and sweet potatoes. Also pan-fried beef liver provides oodles of Vitamin A as do eggs, cod liver oil.

      With regards to red fatty fish, yes I mean salmon, but also look out for sardines and mackerel that are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and great source of health for your skin.

      All the best Gina

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