If you have chronic skin conditions, chances are you probably have some kind of nutritional deficiency. These deficiencies are often masked by drugs, antihistamines and other suppressants. Skin inflammation and stress can also deplete nutrients in our body, therefore, although it is important, a regular healthy diet is often not enough to keep the skin clear. This could be due to poor digestion, genetics, fatty liver and other internal health issues, and should be discussed with a doctor or other qualified practitioner.
The following supplements have been shown to be effective in increasing nutrients involved in repairing, renewing and moisturising our kirimoko (skin), which should help with the symptoms of eczema;
Vitamin C - aids the absorption of iron and copper, is vital for formation of collagen in the skin, guards against infections and is required for liver detoxification. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine which is perfect as more eczema sufferers also suffer allergies. Foods high in vitamin C include papaya, pawpaw or brussel sprouts.
Glycine - is an amino acid that is beneficial due to its anti-inflammatory nature, its ability to protect cells and produce collagen. People with eczema or psoriasis actually have less glycine receptors on the skin so it is vital for these whānau to supplement with glycine or increase foods with good glycine such as hemp seeds, buckwheat and red lentils.
Biotin - can be found in oats and soy beans and is actually made in a healthy gut which may not occur in rash-prone individuals due to genetics, high omega 6 intake, antibiotic use or a bout of diarrhoea or illness. The biotin in food is usually attached to protein and is poorly absorbed by the body, so a biotin supplement is essential for eczema sufferers.
Vitamin B6 - is involved in over 100 different enzymatic reactions and especially ones that help reduce inflammation. B6 is essential in eczema sufferers as it is a natural antihistamine and helps reduce salicylate and MSG sensitivity. Good food sources of Vitamin B6 include granola, potatoes, lentils, brussel sprouts, banana and buckwheat.
Magnesium - is essential for over 300 different reactions in the body and can decrease chemical sensitivity when combined with glycine and B6. Food sources of magnesium includes hemp seeds, oats, brown rice and dried beans.
Zinc - is vital for skin repair and maintenance and deficiency can lead to skin lesions, dry and rough skin and delayed wound healing. Food sources of zinc include brown rice, granola, peas and hemp seeds.
Chromium - is needed for the breakdown of protein, carbs and fats and it enhances the body’s ability to convert glucose to energy. It is recommended that those with eczema avoid sugar as much as possible but by taking chromium it will enable eczema sufferers the ability to enjoy good quality wholegrain carbs. Foods high in chromium include lettuce, onions, peas, garlic and potatoes. Vitamin C and B3 also help the absorption of chromium into our bodys.
Vitamin D - The sunshine vitamin is made in the skin after healthy exposure to sunlight. Anyone living below Nelson may be deficient due to the physical distance we are away from the sun. Vitamin D is important in eczema sufferers as regular steroid use can deplete the skins vitamin D plus the use of such creams and other medicines frequently prescribed for eczema means the person needs to keep out of direct sunlight due to the way they make skin fragile and more prone to sun damage…. Further reason to use our healing balm instead of steroid creams. Other food sources of Vitamin D include boney fish so for us plant based whānau it is important to take a supplement made from algae sources.
Vitamin E - is the main antioxidant found in our skin. Supplementing can decrease the allergy marker IgE in allergy sufferers, improve immune responses and decrease the production and release of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Food sources of Vitamin E include sunflower oil, cabbage, kumara, soybeans and chickpeas. These foods should be combined with Vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid as these nutrients help to recycle vitamin E and help keep it in our bodyies for longer.
Quercetin - is a potent antioxidant flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables. It is a potent antihistamine and when combined with vitamin C it can prevent and reduce hayfever symptoms. Quercetin also has anti-inflammatory effects on eczema and asthma. The best food sources of quercetin include buckwheat, elderberries, onions and blueberries.
Essential Fatty Acids - two main groups of EFAs are omega 3 and omega 6. They are vital for healthy skin and have been shown to increase moisture in the skin and also result in less reddening, roughness or scaling of skin. Eczema sufferers may not utilise fats correctly due to genetics or faulty enzyme conversions. It is recommended eczema sufferers obtain their omega-3 from food sources as it is better absorbed this way (e.g. via hemp seeds). Other food sources apart from oily fish and hemp include flaxseeds, soybeans, tofu, baby squash and cabbage.
Probiotics - contain health-promoting bacteria which are naturally found in the GI tract of healthy people. Probiotics can promote proper gut barrier function and healing of intestinal permeability. In some studies probiotics decreased allergic inflammation in eczema sufferers. Specifically the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain has been found to improve eczema symptoms in 50% of children with eczema.
Carotenoids - It is not recommended to take Vitamin A supplements as it has been shown to dry out the skin. However, eating foods high in the carotenoid cryptoxanthin can supply our bodies with vitamin A and is shown to help hydrate the skin. The best cryptoxanthin-rich foods are papaya and pawpaw but also carrots, beetroot and kumara.
Calcium - is the most abundant mineral in our body. Our bodies regulate constant levels of calcium in the blood in order to keep the pH slightly alkaline. This is beneficial for both bone and skin health. Eating calcium-rich foods (Not dairy products) or supplementing can be beneficial in eczema as it boosts moisture levels in the skin, decreases itch and promotes a more restful nights sleep. If you want to supplement with calcium then beware not to exceed 2500mg total daily and do not take if you have kidney or thyroid issues or cancer. A good calcium supplement will be in the calcium citrate form with added magnesium and vitamin D. Eczema safe foods high in calcium include calcium-fortified soy or rice milk, cooked soybeans, oats, white beans and cabbage.
When you do experience an eczema flare up, the best nutrients you can be supplementing with daily include Vitamin C, Glycine, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, natural Vitamin E, Biotin, Zinc and Chromium. I also recommend consuming hemp seed oil daily alongside hulled hemp seeds or flax seeds. Taking a dairy-free probiotic for two full courses and then reducing doses once you see an improvement in your eczema symptoms can also help.
As always, if you have questions regarding hemp and eczema please feel free to contact us through our contact page.